Wednesday 23 March 2011

Nervous Rex

Frenetic activity this week as we work simultaneously on the forthcoming election campaign, the consultation on the draft Mental Health Measure Regulations, and the advance publicity for our summer campaign "Taking the Wheel", the subject of this post.

We are really pleased to have joined forces with our friends in MDF the Bipolar Organisation and the Mental Health Foundation to support people with experience of serious mental illness to run this campaign which will take off in earnest immediately following the election in May and carry on with events and rallies every week until the end of September.

The campaign will engage people receiving secondary mental health services or who have serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other diagnoses which typically require high levels of care.

As service-user led organisations Hafal and MDF the Bipolar Organisation Cymru will work in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation to support the campaign which will empower people with serious mental illness to:

• Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from serious mental illness.

• Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health (Wales) Measure.

• Make choices about the care and treatment they receive - and who provides it.

• Develop and manage services themselves.

• Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get involved in planning and commissioning mental health services.

"Taking the Wheel" will feature a rally around Wales in our classic VW microbus with a number of regional and national events. 22 weekly events will take place from May to September, one in each county, and major displays will take place at the National Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show. At each event people will be able literally to ‘take the wheel' as they race in a camper van rally simulator which promises excitement and fun.

Now I've had a go on the simulator and was a bit sceptical beforehand but can report that the experience is utterly memorable and I staggered away giddy and, to be honest, a bit shell-shocked. You may sneer at my feeble impression of Nervous Rex but I dare you to have a go when it comes to your town! We will publish the dates and venues soon.

The Seminar launch of the campaign will explore ways in which service users can be empowered to take control of their own recovery and have their say on the services they receive.

"Taking the Wheel" will be launched just after the National Assembly Elections providing an excellent opportunity for service users and carers to engage in current mental health campaigning issues, challenging the new Government to ensure that:

● The Mental Health (Wales) Measure has a robust Code of Practice and Regulations.

● The Assembly Government's Annual Quality Framework target for full compliance by the NHS with the Care Programme Approach is fully implemented.

● There are sufficient resources for mental health services, and the mental health budget is protected.

For the less literary among you Nervous Rex is the timid and easily-scared friend of arch softie Walter, Dennis the Menace's routine target for mean tricks and general contempt. Dennis turned 60 last week and he is still rebelling weekly in the Beano. However, a few years ago he became less mean to Walter as the publishers worried that it looked a bit homophobic.
Unsure that this had cleared the matter up they then gave Walter a girl-friend which should have meant that Dennis could again beat him up without fear of opprobrium. But more recently and in a further wave of political correctness Dennis has ceased the fisticuffs and no longer carries offensive weapons. Dennis has even shown feelings for Minnie the Minx but the world would surely come to an end if that relationship took a serious turn.