Good month for mental health awareness’ – Chief Executive

Chief Executive Jackie Daniel explains why this month has been a good one for mental health awareness in her first blog for the website.

Monday, 2 nd April, 2012

Jackie Daniel CEO

This last month has been a good one in terms of raising the profile of mental health and attempting to deal with the stigma traditionally associated with various conditions, including depression, dementia and schizophrenia. From the inclusion of a series of brave ‘talking heads’ on these issues as part of the Sport Relief telethon, to national media coverage of individual service users in the Daily Mail and then the Government’s acknowledgement of a ‘dementia crisis’ in the UK, mental health has been at the top of the awareness agenda. We’ve even seen an increase in celebrity support, with Frankie from The Saturdays fronting a new campaign for MIND and, over in the US, Al Pacino lending his support to a fund-raising dinner for schizophrenia.

This can only be a positive move and a step nearer our common goal of de-stigmatising mental illness in all its forms. As we know, there’s ‘no health without mental health’, after all.

Here in Manchester, we were delighted to support the launch of the Council’s new Citywide alcohol strategy on 26 March – and particularly enjoyed watching one of our service users Ian Steel talking eloquently about his recovery from alcoholism on both North West Tonight and Granada Reports. This was a great testimonial for the work of the Brian Hore Unit and Ian’s articulate and well presented piece to camera was a triumph. Click here to view the pieces.

We have also pledged to support The Schizophrenia Commission’s latest survey, which hopes to be the biggest ever study of its kind into the first-hand experience of sufferers and service users.

Finally, we have recently been awarded Demonstrator Site Status for our dementia services and have also secured funding for three new advisor posts to assist with early diagnosis. This is the latest acknowledgement of our pre-eminent position in this field and the work spearheaded by national Dementia Tsar, Professor Alistair Burns, who is one of our consultants.

So, all in all, a busy but encouraging time for those of us involved in trying to remove stigma by means of greater awareness and understanding of these illnesses.

Closer to home, we have now completed the election process for a new Board of Governors who will run the Trust when we become a Foundation Trust. Almost every seat was contested with staff, carers and members of the local community all encouraged to put themselves forward as part of the democratic process – and we have been thrilled with the enthusiastic response we have received. Details of the successful Governors are available here and will also be made public through our newsletters.

Our philosophy of blending mental health, social care and health and wellbeing services together in an integrated ‘care mix’ continues to bear fruit, generating some exceptional patient stories and demonstrations of rehabilitation and recovery. Events such as the recent ‘soundscape’ performance at Manchester Art Gallery, where the music was composed and performed by a group of our service users with local schoolchildren following a visit to the Gallery’s pre-Raphaelite paintings, is a fantastic testament to that holistic approach. This is the sort of therapy we need to be offering – an opportunity to create and be part of something inspiring and life-affirming. There are daily examples of this theory in practice at all of our Wellbeing Centres, where service users, carers and members of the local community are coming together to learn new skills, from fine art and photography, to baking and horticulture.

There is still of course a great deal to do to bring mental illness out of the shadows and into the light, despite the fact that one in four adults in the UK will suffer from some form of mental ill-health during his or her lifetime. It’s also sobering to realise that after the age of 65, one in three is likely to suffer from some form of dementia.

So, it’s not about ‘service-users’, actually. It’s about us. All of us. And about what we are doing to ensure that every member of society has a chance to fulfil their potential and play a role in their communities. Without fear of stigma.


Copy: Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust LINK:-



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