Thursday 5 May 2011

And They're Off!

Today I attend the first of 22 local events in our joint summer campaign with our friends in MDF the Bipolar Organisation and the Mental Health Foundation.

The campaign will be launched nationally next week at a patient-run Seminar but today's advance event gives us the chance to trial our brand new rally simulator and escape the tedium (sorry, I mean of course "excitement") of the National Assembly election and AV referendum - see several previous posts and take another look at Dave Smith's fantastic Manifesto which has attracted a huge response from candidates of all parties and from the public.

There is a big turn-out and the rain mainly holds off until the end. The rally simulator is a major hit although one visitor almost collapses giddily into my arms as she leaves the booth - and she was only watching! Personally I find it terrifying but maybe I should secretly practise on a gaming machine at home so I can fearlessly impress at a later date? Meanwhile in spite of the competition from the ballot we get good media coverage including a slot on the Wave which allows me to puff the whole summer campaign.

So what's it all about? The campaign, led by service users, will empower patients to...

• Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from mental illness
Service users will learn from other service users how to self-manage, take the lead on care planning and adopt a positive and progressive approach to improving their lives.

• Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health Measure
Service users will gain key new rights under the new Mental Health (Wales) Measure: the campaign will raise awareness about these new rights among service users – and highlight how they can make the most of them.

• Make choices about the care and treatment they receive – and who provides them
The campaign will raise awareness of the ways in which service users can be
empowered to make decisions about their care and treatment and exercise choice when accessing services – for example, by using Direct Payments or by selecting from a choice of providers.

• Develop and manage services themselves
Peer-led services are proven to be effective because service users can identify with those delivering the services. The campaign will encourage participants to be more ambitious about developing and managing services themselves.

• Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get more involved in planning and commissioning those services
“Taking the Wheel” will encourage service users to make their voices heard and engage in the running of local services. Consumers of services know best how services should be delivered, and service users will be encouraged to take full advantage of opportunities to get involved.

See more about the campaign, including a list of events and contacts, here. I dare you to try the simulator...