Friday 13 May 2011

Campaign Has Wheels

Chris Eastwood, Hafal's Vice-Chair; Elin Jones, Hafal's Chair; Suzanne Hudson, Chief Executive of MDF The Bipolar Organisation; Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, plus me with the campaign microbus...

In spite of a nasty sore throat I enjoyed our Seminar yesterday which was wholly facilitated by users and attended by the great and the good of mental health services in Wales. It was striking how decisively the event left completely behind all the tokenism and patronising attitudes which still beset many efforts to achieve real user involvement.

The tone was set by our Expert Patient Trainer Dave Smith who held the day together wittily and firmly like a nice version of Robert Kilroy Silk. From the off there was a strong sense of a meeting of equals as the 100 delegates discussed in constructive debate how to correct decisively the power imbalance in mental health services.

I was very happy to take a back seat (especially because of the sore throat) only getting my oar in at lunch-time when I and the two other partner Chief Executives spoke about why our organisations were supporting users in running the campaign which will see the “Taking the Wheel” VW microbus and rally simulator travelling through Wales this summer at 22 county events to spread the word about empowerment.

"Taking the Wheel” is a service-user led campaign which will empower mental health service users to take more control of their lives and the services they receive. “Taking the Wheel” will empower people with serious mental illness to:

- Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from mental illness

- Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health Measure

- Make choices about the care and treatment they receive – and who provides them

- Develop and manage services themselves

- Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get more involved in planning and commissioning those services

Click here to find out when the campaign is near you.

The MHF's Dr McC turns out to be a vintage VW fan and courageously takes the wheel in the simulator - not for the faint-hearted...