Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Talking to student midwives at Nottingham.

Today I spoke to a group of student midwives at Queens Medical Centre at Nottingham. It is a huge hospital! I do like speaking to students as they are so keen to listen and to learn.

I also had a look around the Mother and Baby Unit.

It has been a productive day and ended with a lovely comment from a student ..

'I am a student midwife you gave a talk to on the 17/12/08 at QMC. I would like to thank you for a brilliant lecture. I can say you definitely inspired me to improve upon my practice. I am soon to have a placement on a mother and baby unit and hope to take your advice with me. I definitely think that your lecture should be taught to all midwifery students as I found it highly beneficial to my career.
Thank you again.'

A good day!


Great Closure at Kirkby in Ashfield!

On October 10th this year I spent a very pleasant day with mums who were currently suffering from postnatal illness and some health professionals. Earlier this year a lady called Merna Carruthers, a Community Engagement Co-ordinator based at the impressive Kirkby Community Primary Care Centre near Mansfield, contacted me after she had received an email about the work I do.

She secured the funding and we pressed on with our 'You are not alone' programme.

At the end of the day the ladies asked if I could return to see how they had got on.

For the penultimate talk of this year I was THRILLED to see the progress they had made. Unlike the first session when they had arrived with heads down and reluctance to speak or give eye contact .. today they almost bounced in!!! What a transformation! Very well done girls. It seems the biggest improvements they had made since I spoke to them was:-

1. Feeling that they were not alone - in fact, two have become best friends! They are all offering one another support which they can both give and receive.

2. Hope that they will get much better.

3. Much less concerned about what other people say about them.

4. Have a more positive outlook.

5. Being kinder to themselves.

6. Feeling so much better in general and enjoying life more.

We reviewed what changes had taken place since we last met and discussed any remaining challenges. The wonderful aspect I found was that they now all were happy to suggest ways of progress to one another.

We enjoyed some homemade biscuits (thank you Merna) and other goodies which they brought along.

They all left with individual goals but one they all now share is the desire to help others as they have been helped. Brilliant!

A huge thank you to Merna for having the determination to helps ladies in her area; to the budget provider ... and to the ladies who have 'shared' their illness and feelings with others and in doing so have helped themselves!

I am so proud of you and am totally humbled by you all.

Let's hope there will be many others we can reach out to.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

Tackling Stigma!

One of my passions is to help to tackle the stigma associated with mental illness. This especially strikes within the workplace - see my blog on the European Parliament from November.

The Health Secretary Alan Johnson made a landmark speech about tackling stigma and discrimination at last Thursday's New Savoy Partnership Conference about Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. Alan Johnson said: "We all have a responsibility - government, health professionals and the media to fight the prejudice that people with mental health problems experience."

The full speech is now available on the Department of Health's website. Download it from here:

There is also some progress and useful information about 'Health Work Wellbeing' at
Health, Work and Well-being is a Government-led initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of working age people. Founded on a growing evidence base that working is good for health, it brings together employers, unions and healthcare professionals in helping more people with health conditions to find and stay in employment.

There is a useful list of organisations at

If you are interested in fighting stigma also look at

They are holding a special event in London on 15th December.

Might see you there?


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Credit Crunch - Come out smiling!

Tonight Clive Gott and I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at an event organised by Elmwood Design for their clients.

We followed Rick Bendel, Marketing Director for Asda. The evening was held for clients of the very successful Elmwood Design and the theme was 'Credit Crunch - Come out Smiling. What's the best way to get through the credit crunch? Tighten your belt and wait? No. The successful ones will be those that think their way to the future, not trim and cut themselves out of it'.

The venue was their trendy premises in London 'comfy Chesterfields and a Wi-Fi bar in Soho'. Around 50 professionals and Elmwood staff enjoyed drinks and a lovely buffet before Rick advised us on some survival tips - brace yourselves for a couple of tough years but be true to yourselves, keep things simple, cut down on wastage and be creative.
Read about Rick here

I followed with a brief outline of my story of survival and recovery - NO Powerpoint slides - just me! I explained how the first signs of stress can lead to depression and how in retrospect I wish I had realised as maybe I would not have been so poorly in the long run. I shared some of these signs and how they may be evident in the workplace under the current stressful times. I also suggested a few techniques to help improve mental wellbeing. My tip was also not to give up and I explained how I had got the booking for tonight - I had wanted to attend a 'Go Global' event in Harrogate a few months ago but was told it was full. I tried a few days before the event - full. So I turned up on the day! As I had guessed there were some 'no-shows' so in I went! At a seminar on marketing by Jonathan of Elmwood Design, I introduced myself and he said he wanted some speakers on mental health!

Clive finished the evening off in his usual humorous style! He also explained how depression had struck him down, but also that he had recovered. He related one of his greatest challenges climbing a mountain and elaborated on how we all can achieve our goals if we have Belief, Motivation and Support.

For me tonight was a challenge as it was my first 'solo' venture into the corporate world and it worked judging by the feedback! I used Clive's theory and it worked!

The team at Elmwood were delightful - a very happy team! Thank you to you and your clients for making us so welcome.