It was an incredibly proud moment yesterday, watching Cal Strode, Mental Health Collective’s Media Manager, give evidence in Parliament to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration. The committee was chaired by Chuka Umunna MP, and includes Wera Hobhouse MP and Dr Paul Williams MP.
Cal gave evidence from our report, co-authored with 34 young people, “There are No #PhoneZombies: Thinking for ourselves about mobile phones and mental health”. He pressed parliamentarians to ensure that the algorithms that lie behind social media are regulated so that they foster connections between people, rather than artificially inflaming polarisation and conflict. With a message of hope and highlighting opportunities to bridge generational divides, Cal argued that we can take back the impetus and make our own decisions about where we want to go with this technology next.
We are absolutely bursting with pride to announce that two of Mental Health Collective’s Fellows, Kate King FMHC and Steve Gilbert FMHC, have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to mental health and mental health legislative reform.
Steve and Kate are inspirational figures in the mental health world, who draw on their lived experience to advise policymakers and organisations on how they can improve outcomes in mental health. They played pivotal roles in the recent Mental Health Act Review which calls for greater dignity, choice and respect for those held under section.
Kate said: “I was stunned to be nominated: secure ward to MBE in 10 years! However, I know that I was only able to work effectively for the Review because so many people with lived experience contributed either directly or indirectly, and so many continue to work to give a voice to those with living with mental health disabilities: they truly deserve our honour and respect and thanks.”
Steve said: “This is one of the most amazing things to happen in my life and I am grinning from ear to ear. I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me over the past 10+ years, both in terms of my mental illness and the work that I do. It has helped me more than you will ever know. I hope that these three small letters will help me create more opportunities for change, and to be able to continue fighting to ensure people living with a mental illness get the care and support they need.”
We are beyond thrilled that the honour of Steve and Kate has been recognised. Massive congratulations to them both!
The Mental Health Collective is looking for 14, 15 and 16 year olds who live in striking distance of Crouch End (North London), and would like to get some work experience in our non-profit mental health organisation.
The work experience sessions will happen on Sundays, late afternoon, in March and early April. We’ve designed these roles so they meet the volunteering criterion for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – but they would be good for anyone who wants to have fun and get some work experience.
The project you’ll be working on is called “PhoneZombies!” –
it’s about mental health, mobile phones and moral panic. Are mobile phones disconnecting us from each
other, zoning us out and damaging our mental health? Are we turning into some kind of phone zombies? Or is this a moral panic – like in the 1950s
when people thought that rock and roll music was poisoning teenagers brains?
You could volunteer either on your own or with friends, and join one of three teams:
1. Film making team This team will make some zombie movies about people on their phones! We need people to act in and make the films, and then we are going to have a film premiere on Sunday 31st March at the Crouch End Picture House – on a proper big cinema screen.
2. Research team This team will help get to the bottom of what’s really going on with mobile phones and mental health. You’ll get involved in real, on-the-ground research to help us figure out the key questions, write a report that will be published on the Mental Health , and be acknowledged as an author.
3. Marketing and Communications team This team will lead on promoting the films and research report so they reach the widest possible audience – getting people along to the launch event at the cinema and share materials online. Together, we will play an April Fools joke that is the crescendo for this project.
Opening up the survey results with feedback on your own projects is always a slighting anxiety inducing experience. But in all my time as a researcher, I can’t remember a more lovely surprise than when I opened up the file to see what participants thought of our Living Advent Calendar project.
The project gets volunteers from 24 houses and hubs in the local community to illuminate their windows with festive decorations in December. One window is ‘opened’ each day from the 1st to the 24th December and remains illuminated until 12th night.
Totaling up feedback from the first four years of the project (2015-2018), 89% of participants gave the Living Advent Calendar the maximum rating for its overall success, with no individual rating it as neutral or negative. 85% of respondents gave the project the maximum positive rating in terms of their own experience, with no individual rating it as neutral or negative for them personally. Whilst this evaluation was modest in its scope, it’s hard not to conclude that the Living Advent Calendar as been a resounding success. Even with the most temperate scholarly attitude, it’s hard to interpret this data as suggesting anything else.
Qualitative quotes describe the joy that the calendar has brought, and how valuable it has been for bringing people together. The most common recurring word to describe the project was “lovely”:
“Obsessed with it… being able to take part changes how I feel about the whole area”
“It’s so lovely…to have a heartwarming experience walking around this area after dark, especially given the reports of crime”
“Such a magical way to bring the community together!”
“Really enjoyed getting to know neighbours”
“Makes the neighbourhood feel more accessible and gives it a warm personality”
The calendar was featured as a case study by the Eden Project, and has inspired similar projects in Manchester, Walthamstow, Weston-Super-Mare, Norwich and Somerset.
Comedian, writer and newly recognised Fellow, Dave Chawner FMHC appeared with Mental Health Collective’s Director, Dr Amy Pollard, on London Live on 3rd January. Highlighting the diversity of the group, they talked about how the Mental Health Collective’s Fellowship will bring together experts of all stripes to catalyse innovation in mental health.
This New Years Day, we are delighted to recognise the following people as Fellows of the Mental Health Collective:
Claire Barcham FMHC Andy Bell FMHC Mark Brown FMHC Dave Chawner FMHC Samantha Child FMHC Paul Crawford FMHC Anthony Deery FMHC Anselm Eldergill FMHC Alex Evans FMHC Kim Forrester FMHC Steve Gilbert FMHC Richard Grange FMHC Raf Hamaizia FMHC Sarah Hughes FMHC Seth Hunter FMHC Kate King FMHC Hannah Lewis FMHC Karen Linde FMHC Millie Macdonald FMHC Chris Naylor FMHC Chris O’Sullivan FMHC Russell Razzaque FMHC Vicky Romback FMHC Cal Strode FMHC Tutiette Thomas FMHC Nick Webb FMHC Simon Wessely FMHC
This Friday will be the longest night of the year. On 21st December there will be a whole 16 hours and 11 minutes between sunset and sunrise.
People get insomnia at all times of years, but a lot of us find these long dark nights especially difficult. Sleep is, of course, a crucial part of good mental health. It’s easy to get into a vicious cycle, where mental health difficulties prevent you from sleeping well, and then being tired exacerbates mental health difficulties. Before you know it, a sleepless night can turn in to a dark night of the soul.
Having endured many of these dark nights myself, I have developed a set of personal top tips!
The Mental Health Collective is currently running a new programme, Self-Defence Through Humour, which aims to support young people to defend themselves against threats to their mental health, using humour. With an innovation award from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we are in the process of piloting the programme in a number of secondary schools.
We are recruiting for volunteer Youth Advisors to assist with the project. Their role is to help us design the Self-Defence Through Humour programme so it as engaging and valuable as possible for young people.
About the Youth Advisor roles
This volunteer role is designed to be compatible with the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, but would be suitable for any young person looking to gain experience in the not-for-profit or mental health sector.
Tasks will include:
Assisting with research, both online and offline
Testing materials and giving feedback
Working as part of a team to develop ideas
Highlighting key issues and resources
Supporting marketing work
We are looking for people who are:
Aged 13 or 14 (Year 9)
Confident to share opinions
Able to work well in a team
Contactable by phone
Lived experience of mental health difficulties is a positive asset for the role. We are seeking to recruit young people from a range of different backgrounds, including those who have faced disadvantage in their lives.
You can apply on your own, or with a friend.
Practicalities and commitment
The role involves a one hour commitment each week, over either a 3 month or a 6 month period.
Youth Advisors will meet as a group in Archway, N19, once a week after school during term time (exact time and date tbc).
If you are interested in becoming a Youth Advisor (either as an individual or with a friend), or would like to enquire on behalf of your child, please write a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder and Director of the Mental Health Collective, Dr Amy Pollard, has been asked to chair the Dignity and Safety Group for the Mental Health Act Review.
Dr Pollard said:
“The independent review of the Mental Health Act, commissioned by the Prime Minister, is a once-in-a generation opportunity to shape legislation and practice which holds the ultimate power over people facing a mental health crisis.
It is an honour to have been asked by Prof. Sir Simon Wessely to chair the Dignity and Safety topic group – drilling down on the Mental Health Act and the structures around it can be reshaped to address the appalling sense of dehumanisation, indignity and disrespect that a high proportion of people under section experience.
The group’s work comes at a particularly poignant time for me – exactly two years after I was sectioned myself.
The topic group brings together eminent representatives who have lived experience of the Act themselves, the BAME community, CQC, NHSI, mental health trusts, academia, psychiatry, charities and community services, alongside a secretariat from the Department of Health and Social Care. Together, we are determined that the Mental Health Act Review seizes every possible opportunity to bring greater dignity, safety and humanity into the lives of people in mental health crisis.”
It’s been a great pleasure to work with Hertfordshire Mind over the last few months, supporting them in a facilitated process to develop their organisational strategy.
In a partnership between Mental Health Collective and the Innovation Unit, Nick Webb (@drnwebb) and I delivered a series of three workshops – first with staff members, then with the board of trustees, and finally bringing all stakeholders together. Through this process we supported the development of an organisational strategy rooted in the expertise of the whole team and energised by their collective vision.
It’s been fascinating and humbling to see the hidden treasures emerge through this process. We heard the passion and commitment that Herts Mind staff bring to their work; the innovative thinking at board level; and saw the power of this collective team to address problems and carve out a new direction for the future.
More than ever, it reinforced my conviction that when people with diverse forms of expertise are able to meaningfully connect with one another, there is no end to the surprising ways that challenges can be unlocked.