Thursday 11 October 2012

Chunky Chips

Off to the Senedd yesterday for the culmination of Movin' On Up, our summer-long national campaign led by mental health service users and carers and supported by Hafal along with Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation. Health and Social Services Minister Lesley Griffiths AM (along with a big turn-out of AMs of all parties and a large contingent of service users and carers from across Wales plus key mental health professionals) welcomed the campaign microbus back from its epic 22 county trip around Wales. More brilliant pics and details on Facebook here.

The event also saw the premiere of a film of the Snowdon Challenge which took place on 28th September when 100 service users, carers and professionals - and me, as if I could forget! - scaled Wales' highest peak. It will be on-line shortly.

The Minister told us: "It is very important we ensure service users and carers have their say on the policies and services which we know impact on their daily lives. Movin' On Up accomplished just that. It has empowered service users, families and their carers and also highlighted the crucial role the third sector plays. Hafal and its partners, Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation, deserve our thanks for making the campaign such a success over the summer.

"I was particularly interested to learn of the recent climb of Snowdon. The climb neatly symbolised the desire of service users to reach new heights and maximise their potential for recovery and to take control of their lives.

"Service users were at the heart of Movin' On Up and their views also informed the Welsh Government. Our philosophy that service users should be involved in the planning and delivery of care can be seen in both the Mental Health (Wales) Measure and the forthcoming Mental Health Strategy for Wales. 'Together for Mental Health' is one of the best Strategies I've seen as Minister and AM since I've been here since 2007. I think the reason for that is because service users have had such a big input in to it."

We and our partners are extremely pleased with the campaign which has been a great success. In particular as Lesley says the Government has indeed listened to us and ensured that the Measure and its Regulations and Code of Practice prescribe a holistic Care and Treatment Plan format and set timescales for producing Plans. We are also optimistic that the forthcoming Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and accompanying Delivery Plan will recognise that mental health services should be commissioned in response to the needs identified in Care and Treatment Plans - and that they must address all eight life areas included in those Plans.

By the time I get to the Senedd caterers' sandwiches they are all gone except the veggie ones, not necessarily a disaster but in this instance it is a frugal experience as the filling is a spinach leaf unadorned by any flavoured or calorific sauce. I am relieved on returning home to find that dinner is a substantial chicken breast schnitzel with a crunchy coating, pommes de terre Pont Neuf (aka chunky chips), and a richly-dressed salad. Oh, and cheese. And tiramisu - Mrs B's special recipe with dark rum instead of the traditional Marsala. Equanimity is duly restored.