Yessica's Journey Blog

Welcome to the Yessica's Journey Blog Site, a Journey through Mental Health, Wellbeing and Creativity.


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Invited by Time to Change to the House of Commons to celebrate World Mental Health Day 2013

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Copyright Extracts from Time to Change Website Article. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Link to Anastacia’s article on the Time to Change Website

Link to Time to Change Website Article
What a way to celebrate World Mental Health Day. I was given the most amazing opportunity and was invited to the Terrace Pavillion at the House of Commons to celebrate parliament’s work in challenging mental health discrimination with Time to Change and charities Mind and Rethink. Some of the Time to Change Champions across the country were invited to the event as a thank you for their support to the campaign. I feel very privileged to have been given this once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Anastacia centre with Time to Change Champions at the House of Commons on World Mental Health Day

Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister, Alastair Campbell and other MPs including Kevan Jones were there. The event was held to celebrate the successful work of Time to change and focused on MPs talking about their own mental health and making a pledge and commitment to giving more support to the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and ending discrimination in the workplace. The event also celebrated the passing of the Mental Health Discrimination No 2 Act 2013 which allows people who have had experience of mental health problems to be MPs, Company Directors and Jurors.

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MPs are beginning to speak out about their own mental health. Many organisations and employers have pledged to address mental health issues.

Below slideshow showing images from event.

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Attitudes are slowly changing and it is through the hard work of campaigns like Time to Change, mental health organisations and people who speak out about their own mental health that has helped to make these changes possible.

Having the strength and courage to speak out is not easy but it is through people’s individual qualities, through their determination and passion that will help to change attitudes in our society. Just having a conversation with someone goes a long way to help break down the barriers and stereotypes associated with mental health. Through education we can learn to think differently, we can start to understand and empathise and that is when people will begin to change how they perceive mental health.

It is important to realise that we all have mental health and we are all unique individuals so this affects our whole society. If mental health affects everyone, our society needs to first recognise this in order to change it. Mental health affects everything in our lives, including our relationships and work, this is why it is fundamental to change society as a whole so we can start to find new creative and innovative ways to help support future generations of people.

Not only do some people who have mental health difficulties face stigma and discrimination in our society but they are also faced with a lack of support, difficulty in accessing services and staff shortages mainly due to severe cuts in mental health budgets. The Government needs to recognise this and take mental health seriously. Mental Health services are struggling and I hope that more will be done to provide the support that is needed for future generations of people with mental health difficulties.

I am very fortunate to have received the care I needed through the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust recently, it has made a huge difference to my life and I am extremely grateful to the staff who supported me. They were very understanding and compassionate and I can’t thank them enough for the help they gave me.

Lizzie Green Project Manager at Time to Change

Lizzie Green Project Manager at Time to Change

I met so many lovely people at the event and was slightly nervous but very excited about going to the House of Commons. It was really nice to meet the staff from the campaign including Lizzie Green who is the Project Officer, Social Leadership Team at Time to Change who made me feel really welcome.

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I also met Sue Baker who is the Director of Time to Change and it was really good to talk to her about mental health.

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Link to Time to Change Article
Quote Extract from Sue Baker, Director taken from Time to Change Article.
‘…we are seeing unprecedented support from many different industries who now see the importance of tackling mental health stigma and discrimination… in the last year and a half, we’ve seen huge improvements in the way that mental health is perceived in Parliament and among the public as a whole…’

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change

I met some really nice Time to Change Champions and we got on so well. It was nice to meet so many friendly people and we had quite a laugh.

Anastacia and Time to Change Champions

Anastacia and Time to Change Champions

The Houses of Parliament are incredible. The architecture is just beautiful and I found it so inspirational to be there. It definitely has the Wow Factor and I have never been anywhere like it in my life, it was quite surreal. There was a lot of security there which is understandable and we had to be searched and scanned before we went in, bit like being at an Airport.

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Sue Baker and MPs

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Keith Winstein and Lizzie Green who work for Time to Change with the Photographer in the Pavillion

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Alastair Campbell who attended the event

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Guests at the House of Commons Pavillion

The reception was held in the Pavillion overlooking the Thames and we were served canopies which was really nice.

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I got a bit lost trying to find my way out of Parliament, it is so huge and like a maze inside. I managed to buy a souvenir – a little teddy who is quite cute. I was not allowed to take photos in certain areas of the building and after three glasses of wine and getting lost I took a picture of a beautiful ceiling by mistake. A security man came over and I apologised and offered to delete it from my camera but he said it was OK but they would just lock me in the tower which I found quite funny.

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I feel so lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity and I had such a fantastic day, met so many lovely people, saw the most amazing architecture and enjoyed every moment of it. To be involved in something so special and important in helping to improve attitudes about mental health is something I will never forget. Thank you Time to Change and special thanks to Oz Osborne Rural Communities Co-ordinator and Sarah James, Eastern Regional Co-ordinator from Time to Change who nominated me.

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Below more pictures of the House of Commons. For additional pictures see slideshow near top of article.

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Invite from Time to Change to attend event at House of Commons

Invite from Time to Change to attend event at House of Commons


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Yessica’s Journey NHS Mentors – Huge thank you to Roz Brooks and Welcome to New Mentors Michele Allott and Graham Creelman

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

I would like to thank Roz Brooks for all her support and help on the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project as my mentor. Roz is the Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and is sadly leaving at the end of the month. She has been my mentor for several years and has helped me so much.  She has always given me her time even though she is incredibly busy and is someone who has always got back to me which I do appreciate.  She also has a great sense of humor so I have enjoyed our meetings. She helped and supported me to apply for further funding from the NHS Charitable funds earlier this year and we successfully received it to make some of the puppets for the animation, so huge thanks to Roz, Maggie Wheeler, Graham Creelman and the Trust.

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From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia

Maggie Wheeler was also my mentor and left earlier this year. She was the Chair of the Trust and also helped and supported me with Roz throughout the project. Maggie showed a genuine interest in my project and also helped support the Charitable funding bid. She has always been so enthusiastic and encouraging. I have stayed in touch with Maggie which is great, she has a great sense of humor so I have enjoyed working with her. Maggie is now the Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and Chair of the Garage and is an Associate at Foresight Partnership . Gary Page is the New Chair at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust and I wish him well in his new role at the Trust. Please click here to see earlier Blog about Maggie.

I will really miss Maggie and Roz as I enjoyed working with both of them. Thanks for putting up with me and keep in touch.  I would also like to thank both of you for your help earlier this year and last year when I had a relapse – I appreciate all the help and support you gave me and thank you both and will always be grateful to the Trust for the help I received through my care when I was unwell.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia - Yessica's Journey Meeting

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia . Maggie has been one of the mentors for the Yessica’s Journey project

I am so pleased to announce that Michele Allott is one of my new mentors for the project at the NHS. Michele is the Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. She has already been a huge help and she really has shown a genuine interest in the project. I would like to welcome Michele to the project and look forward to working with her in the future. We have already had a meeting together with Roz and I showed them the progress and development of the project. Please see picture below. They both suggested that we promote the project more within the NHS which is great and I am looking forward to working with Michele.

Michele has worked for many years within the NHS and has a background in Mental Health, her experience and knowledge will be a huge benefit to the project.

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From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia

I am pleased to announce that Graham Creelman who is the Non-Executive Director, Deputy Chair and Senior Independent Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is also my new mentor for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ Project. Graham joined the project earlier this year and has been a huge help to the project already and I would like to welcome him to the project. I have shown Graham the progress of the project.

He has had a long career in journalism, film making and production. He was also the managing director of Anglia TV and director of regional programming for the ITV network. Graham is currently a consultant on creativity within organisations including the Norwich University of the Arts which is where I worked for 15 years and also did my degree. He also has an OBE for services to broadcasting. Grahams experience in film making and creativity will be a huge help to the project.

Graham Creelman Non Executive Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Graham Creelman Non Executive Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – showing Graham the development of the project

I have been very lucky with all the mentors I have had from the NHS. Michele and Graham will be fantastic for the project and I can’t thank them enough for their time and patience.

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From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

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Graham Creelman Non Executive Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

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From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust


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NHS Early Intervention Psychosis Team Staff Away Day

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

I was pleased to be invited to a Staff Away Day by Psychologist Ruth Turner who works for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Early Intervention Psychosis Team. I was asked to do a presentation of my mental health journey and incorporate an animation film I made when I first become unwell whilst studying for my degree. I was also asked to show my showreel of animations including ‘Yessica’s Journey’ which is hoped to be used by the NHS and Mind in training workshops and events when completed. The event took place at Carrow Road in Norwich.

Ruth Turner and Anastacia with Staff at the Early Intervention Psychosis Team Away Day at Carrow Road.

Ruth Turner and Anastacia with Staff at the Early Intervention Psychosis Team Away Day at Carrow Road. I got everyone to make coloured cone hats as a joke which was fun.

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Anastacia doing her presentation to the Early Intervention Psychosis Team

I first met Ruth when I was invited to do an event by the Chalk Circle Theatre Company last year. I was asked to talk about my journey and show my animations and work. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this and I was extremely nervous. I invited a representative from the NHS and Mind as both organisations have helped to fund the project. Maggie Wheeler who was the Chair of the NHS Trust and was also my mentor for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project kindly asked Ruth to represent the Trust which is how I met her. The project has given me so many opportunities to meet people within the NHS and be involved with the Trust.

When Ruth asked me I was really pleased but also a bit nervous as I knew there would be around 40 staff there and I was also given around an hour to do the presentation, something I am not used to doing. I went in the week before to Carrow Road to make sure my Apple laptop worked on their projector and it was a good job I did as they had to get a special adapter. The presentation went really well and although I was a bit nervous to start with I noticed that I was much more confident that I thought I would be. I was asked so many questions by the staff and everyone seemed really interested in my journey and animations which was so nice and quite unexpected.

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Anastacia presenting which image of Yessica in the background

I stayed for the whole day and had lunch with the staff and was invited to join in staff group activities which was fun. Everyone was so nice and friendly and they made me feel really welcome. I was also asked by many staff if I would be interested in working with them in the future doing more talks and being involved in art with the team which I was really pleased about and was not expecting. I got some really good feedback from staff so that was really nice and I was pleased the talk was successful and helpful. Someone commented on the fact that I presented it by talking naturally about my journey and didn’t follow a plan. In the past I would never have been able to do this as talking about yourself is quite hard but I have noticed that I am less nervous and more confident for the first time in my life about public speaking and presenting, something I never thought I would be able to do without feeling nervous.

I think it is through my journey and experience, especially after the relapse I had last year and through the talking therapy I received from the NHS that has helped me with my confidence. Most of my life I feel I have wasted time worrying about what other people think of me, what if I muck up, what if something goes wrong, what if… but what if – so many if’s and but’s. I have learned slowly through experience that it really does not matter and once you conquer that fear you can find the confidence within yourself to no longer be afraid. We sometimes spend our lives living in fear so this really is an amazing gift which I feel I have gained through my mental health experience. Something good and positive has come from my journey and never in a million years did I ever think I would conquer my fears in talking to large groups and most importantly not worrying about it. To gain confidence is a wonderful thing, it can help you do so much more in life. To build confidence takes time and patience but the rewards are huge.

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Staff from the Early Intervention Team

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Peter Edge on the left at the Staff Away Day

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Peter Edge who works for the NHS was also at the event and it was really nice to see him there as he used to be my mentor for the project. Above is a Slideshow of images from the staff event.


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Maggie Wheeler and Roz Brooks from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are the New NHS Representatives for ‘Yessica’s Journey’

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Images taken by Diane Smith who works at the NHS.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia – Yessica’s Journey Meeting

I was thrilled to have a meeting with Maggie Wheeler, who is the Chair of the Trust and Roz Brooks who is the Director of Nursing, Patient Safety and Quality at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Hellesdon Hospital. After having to cancel many meetings I finally got to show them some of the development of the work for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. I showed them my portfolio of designs including some of the sound and models from the project. I really enjoyed showing them the work and they both seemed really interested in how the project was progressing. I am also pleased to announce that Maggie and Roz are now officially the NHS Representatives for the project which is amazing.

Quote from Maggie and Roz  “we are so pleased to be associated with this fantastic project. It will really help people understand mental ill health in an accessible way. We were fascinated to learn about how animated films are made, and the time and skill it takes. We are really looking forward to seeing the final result”

I would like to thank Maggie and Roz for their time and for giving me the opportunity to show them the development of  ‘Yessica’s Journey’. Also huge thanks for being my representatives, I really appreciate it. I would also like to thank Diane Smith who took these lovely pictures of Maggie and me, I really like them and she has done a fantastic job.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia – Yessica’s Journey Meeting


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Time to Change Village Event comes to Norwich 1st September

Time to Change Village Event in Norwich

Time to Change Village Website Link

Time to Change Village Event in London with Village videos and pictures link

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Screenshots from Time to Change Poster and images supplied by Oz Osborne

The time to Change Village Event is coming to Norwich on 1st September 2012 at the Forum in Norwich. It is a chance for people to learn about mental health, participate in activities and challenge the stigma and discrimination faced by people with Mental health difficulties. It is about changing preconceived perceptions. Everyone is welcome and it will be a fun day out. Here are a few images which Oz Osborne took at the last Time to Change Village Event.

Time to Change Village Cinema playing Showreel

Time to Change Village Event Human Library

Time to Change Village Event

Above are pictures of the success of the village including the Human Library where you can borrow people as books to find out about different subjects and challenge prejudice and preconceived ideas. Also picture of the Cinema Tent which I helped create the Showreel for.

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Time to Change Poster


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Time to Change Village Event comes to Norwich 1st September at the Forum

Time to Change Village Event in Norwich

Time to Change Village Website Link

Time to Change Village Event in London with Village videos and pictures link

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Screenshots from Time to Change Poster and Website.

Time To Change Poster Advertising Norwich Event at the Forum

The Time to Change Village Event is coming to Norwich on the 1st September at the Forum. The event has been very successful and has been around the whole country. They are looking for volunteers so please contact Oz Osborne for further details about how you can get involved – see above poster. He is one of the people who helped to develop the idea. For more information about Time to Change and the Village events please click on links at the top of this article.

Quote taken from Time to Change Website
‘The Village is a pop-up interactive space that has all the things you might expect to find in villages and towns across the world: a health centre, library, café, post office, cinema and a news agent. But there’s a twist –each part of the village provides a unique opportunity to engage the public in conversation about mental health.
When people meet our volunteers for a chat at the Time to Change Village, they will find out more about mental health. This helps to challenge prejudices and stereotypes which often lead to discrimination.
Time to Change held the first Village event in London on 31 March 2012.

Screenshot of image taken from Time to Change website of Village Event

I am thrilled to have been asked to be one of the ‘Volunteer Coordinator’s’ for the event which is a paid role. It is lovely to be asked to take on such a responsible role. I am very excited but also a bit nervous as I have never done this before and lack a bit of much-needed confidence. We will be getting training soon which is great.

I have volunteered with Time to Change for several years now and have really enjoyed it. It has helped me a lot with my own Mental Health and Wellbeing and to talk openly and not feel embarrassed or ashamed. I am glad I did not keep my own Mental Health difficulties a secret which I did for several years. For me it has been much better to be honest and not hide something like this which can become a burden and can be distressing. It has been very beneficial for my own wellbeing and has helped me as well as others to understand Mental Health. I am glad that I can openly talk about it now and feel proud. It has been a long and difficult journey and it has not been easy for me to open up to people and talk about something so personal – but the rewards have been huge.

I am thrilled that the showreel which I helped to produce for the Cinema part of the Village has now been showed around the whole country to help challenge the stigma and discrimination of mental health. The showreel includes many videos which is informative about Mental Health and helps to challenge people’s perceptions and understanding. I am very proud to have been involved in this in a small way and so glad I have been able to do something useful and have been given this fantastic opportunity. Time to Change are great communicators and have involved me in so many ways, they make you feel valued and that you are doing something useful and I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I have been given – thank you.

Please come along to the event and spread the word as it is important to advertise this event. It is the first time it will have come to Norwich. I have informed people I know including Mind and the NHS so please pass this information on to anyone you know and display the poster.

If  you are interested in volunteering it is a great way to help yourself as well as others and help to educate the public to understand Mental Health and change perceptions. Come along to the event, it will be interesting, informative and enjoyable – a fun day out and everyone is welcome.


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Take a Wellbeing Walk – Five Ways to Wellbeing

 

Five Ways to Wellbeing Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. 

The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ has been proven through research to benefit everyone’s mental wellbeing (developed by New Economics Foundation, nef). Please click on link above for more information.

By taking a walk we can cover all of the Five Ways to Wellbeing and improve our thinking in a positive way to help ourselves as well as others. It is very beneficial and this is just one way of using the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Oz Osborne on Wellbeing Walk

  1. Be Active – Walking is being active, is helps your physical and mental wellbeing and makes you feel good. Walking has been proven to help keep our minds active and improve our physical fitness. It gives us time out of the house and gives precious and much-needed time to ourselves which is extremely important.
  2. Take Notice – Whilst taking a walk you will notice many interesting things along your journey which will be different each time you take a walk, the wonder and excitement of what you will discover – the beauty and amazement of  nature, animals, people, colour, texture, smells and sounds. The warmth of the sunshine on your face, the cool breeze against your face, the rustle of the trees and dancing wisps of grass, the beauty of dewdrops on a spider’s web, the beauty of flowers in bloom. The discovery of new things you have never seen before.
  3. Connect – Whilst walking you may come in contact with other people and have a chat, you may go with a friend, family or take a pet for a walk. Walking can help you connect with others around you. Connect with nature and your environment. Time to connect to your inner self.
  4. Keep Learning – Whilst walking with a friend or meeting others you may learn more about that person, increase your knowledge through discussion, talking and listening. It may give you time to think about things more clearly, feel less stressed and give you a break. You may learn more about nature and see things of interest, discover new things. You take in new sights, new smells, new sounds. You may decide to go for a walk to an interesting place you have never been to before to learn and increase your knowledge, you may take a book and have time to read in a beautiful and relaxing environment. It may even give you creative ideas, time to think, time to discover and develop.
  5. Give– If you invite a friend or family member you are giving your time to help someone else, improve their wellbeing as well as your own. You may give the other person new knowledge and understanding through talking and listening. You can thank someone which is a huge boost to someone’s wellbeing. You can laugh and smile and have fun – a massive help to feeling good about yourself and helping the other person. If you take your dog for a walk for instance you are giving time and enjoyment to your pet as well as yourself. Interaction and connecting with others is giving. It is important to also give to your own wellbeing as well as others. You can take a walk on your own, you are still giving, you are giving time to yourself and helping yourself relax, take a break and enjoy time out from the hectic and stressful lives that many of us now live in an ever-increasing stressful society.Oz Osborne and myself went on a wellbeing walk through my local area. It is a beautiful walk through fields and woods and we really enjoyed the walk.

Anastacia on Wellbeing Walk

 


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New Bipolar Uk Self Help Group in Norwich

Bipolar Uk Website Self Help Groups

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Screenshots from Bipolar UK Website.

Bipolar Uk Logo

Great News – a new Bipolar Uk self-help group is being set up in Norwich. The first meeting is on Thursday 6th September 2012 and then every first Thursday in the month. It starts at 6.30pm-8.30pm. Venue is the Friends Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich.
The lady from Bipolar Uk rang me as I could not attend and said it was one of the biggest amount of people she had seen attend the event – over twenty people.  Chris came up with the idea and is running the group with Gemma. I received a letter from Bipolar UK inviting me to the event but could not attend. I sent it out to the NHS and Mind so hopefully lots of people were informed. I wish the group well and hope it will benefit many people.

Map from Bipolar UK website with details of Norwich Group


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The Happy Pill which won’t make you gain weight

Article from the Mirror Newspaper

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © Mirror Newspaper

I found this article in the Mirror newspaper and thought it was interesting. It is about how some Bipolar Disorder Antidepressants can make you gain weight. This new pill claims to half the weight gained. It is not available yet through the NHS as they are still researching it. I think it is great that they are doing research into medication which may reduce the side effects of weight gain. Anti-psychotic drugs like Olanzapine can make some people gain weight. I think people with mental health difficulties have enough problems without losing their identity and from many of the other side effects of drugs. I gained over 2 stone and when I looked in the mirror I just did not recognise myself anymore or indeed did anyone else. This can have quite an adverse effect on your wellbeing and confidence, to lose your identity is distressing. I am pleased to say I have now lost around 2 stone since last May and can finally look in the mirror and recognise myself. I am on medication but not on the ones which make you gain weight. Having said that I would not be here if it wasn’t for Olanzapine which got me through my degree and many difficult times. I hope this new drug is effective and also does not have any other bad side effects. I think research is extremely important in improving medication and ways of developing new methods to help people.


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Time to Change Mental Health at Work Article

Time to Change Website Article

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. 

I found this article on the Time to Change website really interesting and encouraging. It is about how having a mental health difficulty does not necessarily have to stop some people from working with support and the right job. I have found volunteer work very important is gaining confidence and getting me back to work in the past. I have always enjoyed working although I now find I can’t do some of the things I used to do due to having Bipolar. It is about pacing yourself, avoiding stress where possible and finding the right job which suits you. Something which gives you confidence, motivation and something which you enjoy doing. Something which helps to build your  self-esteem and taking that first small step which is so hard to do. Knowing your limits and getting support and positive encouragement. Good feedback is essential from employers and an understanding of Mental Health is essential. I have found it hard to work since 2008 and at times have had to give up many jobs due to Bipolar which is so frustrating.  However I am a fighter and a strong person and after recently having a relapse hope to get back to work as soon as I am able. You have to learn to accept you can’t perhaps do the things you used to do and adapt.  Medication also effects you a great deal and your capabilities. Work gives you something to focus on and a chance not only to help yourself lead a more fulfilling life but also to help others and society. Work is good for your wellbeing, whether it is paid or voluntary, as long as it is something you enjoy doing and does not cause you stress. It is important for employers to develop an understanding of Mental Health in the workplace and hopefully through organisations like Time to Change the stigma and discrimination associated with it will help many people with mental health difficulties get back to work if they want to and are capable of doing so.


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Claire Lussignea, Lead Psychologist from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Question and Answer Document

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill and Claire Lussignea from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy, duplicate or download text.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

I attended the Service User Redesign and Communication Group meeting in January (see earlier blog). Service Users from Hellesdon Hospital – the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and other organisations were invited to the meeting to discuss two pathways – the Non Psychotic and Psychotic disorder and the Wellbeing Service.
This is the question and answer document which Claire and I produced which I am very proud of. I hope that this helps towards a positive and a greater involvement of Service Users working in partnership with the Trust to help one another and to learn from each other and to improve services and care as well as acknowledge the services which are working well. The document has been sent to the Redesign group which Claire requested and the Service Users Council and I hope that it has been helpful and encourages other service users to actively get involved in helping to shape, redesign and improve the NHS.
Thank you to Claire Lussignea, Lead Psychologist, and the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Marketing Department for kindly giving me permission to publish this document.

27th January 2012

Anastacia Tohill  |  Service User Council Member | Service User Redesign and Communications Sub Group Member.

Here are some of the questions I wanted to ask but we ran out of time at our Redesign meeting on 26th January with the Non Psychotic and Psychotic disorder Pathway Staff. If you need further clarification about the questions or more details please do not hesitate to contact me.

These are my own questions that I wanted to ask but I will pass this information onto the rest of the group who may also find it useful.

I would like to thank Claire Lussignea who is the lead Clinician and lead Psychologist at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and was one of the members of staff on the Psychotic Disorder Pathway panel who has kindly taken the time and trouble to answer my questions. I also want to thank any other staff who also contributed to the answers. She said that we are still in the early stages of working out the Radical Redesign process and there is still a lot to be worked out and it is hard to capture complex issues. She has encouraged me to get back to her to discuss anything further from her answers. Thank you I do appreciate it and I have found it extremely helpful and encouraging.

I hope other service users and staff find it helpful and useful and I hope it encourages and helps to formulate new ideas, discussions and ways of improving the NHS system.

  1. If hope is central to recovery how will you use Service Users lived experiences to show hope to people who are experiencing Psychosis?

How will you use Service Users stories of hope?
How will you monitor the process?
How will you make sure the process is fair?

Answer: ‘Hi – we haven’t yet worked out all the detail around how we will use people with a lived experience within the service. We will be asking the service user redesign and communications group for some ideas as to how you think this would best work. However my personal thinking is that using people’s personal stories is usually a very powerful tool.’

How will you safeguard vulnerable adults who are feeling unwell and ensure they receive the right advice and message of hope? Would you provide professional training for Service Users and what would this be?

Answer: ‘There are formal training programmes which include supervision and coordination roles. There are different models used throughout the country. We will be looking at these and plan to use a tried and tested approach.’


How will you select suitable candidates for the role?

Answer: ‘Please see above’

  1. Have you thought about using creative activity as a way to help people who are experiencing Mental Health problems and creating useful projects which actually enhance peoples wellbeing and confidence and helps them to explore their own mental health?

Answer: ‘This is a very good idea. In an ideal world I would like to see such projects being service user led but with the required support and administrative support provided by the mental health service. Do you have any particular ideas? There is no barrier to us helping get these off the ground.’

  1. Research is very important in understanding Mental Health. Have you thought about using ‘Service User’ Research to enhance the Trust’s understanding of Psychosis. Using service users stories of experience, specific case studies, questionnaires, interviews. monitoring, recording and analysing the results to help improve the understanding of Psychosis?

Answer: ‘The Trust has a Research Dept which I know is supportive of Service User Research. The Early intervention Service is also very active in undertaking research into psychosis. I can provide contact details for you should you wish.’

Are you involved with other organisations with research into psychosis?

Answer: ‘Yes some of the research undertaken is collaborative with other organisations.’

  1. How will you ensure that Service Users are treated as individuals and recognise that each person has a unique experience of Mental Health? Are you going to move away from the typical tick box system and one size fits all way of thinking?

Answer: ‘I think what you are talking about here is a change in culture and in attitude of staff members. Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has joined up to support IMROC which is a project looking at changing the culture and approach of mental health services to recovery. It is very focussed on putting the service user at the centre of the work. Would you like more information on this?’

The organisation is also in the process of revising its CPA paperwork. We will ensure service users participate in this review to ensure any new paperwork does not lead to a tick box system.

  1. Often personal qualities, experience and skills are equally as important as qualifications. What personal qualities and skills will you be looking for in staff.

Answer: ‘I think looking at some of the information coming out of the IMROC project will answer this better than I can. I will forward you some of the information on my return from leave and then we can have a chat if this does not answer your questions.

On every job description there is a list of personal qualities we are looking for from the staff member doing that job. We are also hoping to increase the number of job interviews that service users are on the panel for so that you are the people helping to determine who is employed.’

How will you make sure that you find the right staff with the right attitude and skills to help people experiencing mental health problems?

Answer: ‘See above.’

How will you monitor the effectiveness of staff?
How will you make sure that your staff receive proper training and guidance, support and time to ensure they give a good effective service. If staff are unhappy this sometimes reflects badly on the very people they are trying to help.

Answer: ‘All staff have clinical supervision and managerial supervision and also an annual appraisal of their effectiveness. These are the systems that are in place to support the above. However we are currently looking at Suffolk’s clinical supervision system to see if there are things we can learn from it.

The Trust’s training dept runs lots of courses and workshops for people. Some of which are mandatory. Staff are also supported to attend external courses. All this training is designed to ensure staff are receiving the necessary training and guidance to do their job effectively.’

  1. How will you ensure that you provide a fair system for everyone who experiences mental health problems. What will you do to ensure this? In a tick box type system often many people are left out from being helped as certain criteria can go against them.

Answer: ‘I am hoping that when the Payment by Results system comes in for mental health this will help for a fairer system. People will be allocated to a care cluster and each care cluster has a package of care attached to it that describes exactly what someone should get and options of things that should be thought about and discussed with them. This should mean less of a lottery about what help someone receives.’

  1. How can you ensure that assumptions are not made about what someone experiencing Psychosis says? How will you ensure that they are listened to properly? Sometimes people may have delusions but sometimes in amongst the delusions there may be some real events happening which are true. How will you differentiate this and how will you offer reassurance to someone?

Answer: ‘I think this is about the skills of the staff (so comes back to appropriate training and knowledge) and attitude of the staff (which comes back to the IMROC work and effective recruitment and supervision and appraisal).’

  1. Medication is important in helping someone to get well but talking therapy is equally as important especially in helping people to understand what is happening to them, why it is happening and how they can help themselves. It also opens the doorway to TRUST and HOPE. What talking therapies are being offered as a service by the Trust for people who are or have experienced psychosis?

Answer: ‘The care packages describe what should be offered to people with psychosis depending on which care cluster they are in. However as standard anyone with a new presentation of psychosis should be assessed for whether they are likely to benefit from CBT. However other therapies are also available depending on need. The trust provides a range of therapies including CBT, CAT, IPT and EMDR as standard.’

Is the Trust actively seeking out new and old therapies, researching therapies and trying out therapies to find out which ones work best and also find out good professional organisations and therapists which work and work well? Sometimes what works for one person will not work for others so it is important to offer a wide diverse range of therapies and therapists. It the Trust using Research to formulate ideas?

Answer: ‘The Trust is not doing all the research itself. This type of research involves many hundreds of people and therefore some people in the Trust are involved in big national studies looking at this. The National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness also periodically reviews the research evidence base for the treatment of different conditions and the Trust endeavours to follow these guidelines.’

Is this something Service Users could be involved in helping with – surveys, questionnaires etc. Monitor and recording of information perhaps so there is a database of good therapists and therapies. Could service users help the Trust in researching therapies in some way?

Answer: ‘I believe that the Trust’s Research Dept is keen to involve Service Users in research. I can provide a contact for you should you wish?’

  1. What do you think of the idea about psychiatry becoming like other medical specialities where there is a range of tests including imaging tests of the brain functions, blood tests and psychological tests to find out about susceptibility factors to mental health problems, help with diagnosis and enable help in a different way?

Answer: ‘I think this already exists for some conditions but not for others. This is not something I have discussed with colleagues but my own personal view is that we should make use of whatever is useful out there to help us understand our experiences.’


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Peter Edge ‘Yessica’s Journey’ Mentor working at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Wellbeing Service

Peter Edge ‘Yessica’s Journey’ Mentor

© Copyright 2011 Anastacia Tohill – Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy, duplicate or download images or text.

Wellbeing Service Ready to Change Website

Living Life to the Full Website

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

I would like to congratulate Peter Edge on his new job with the Wellbeing Service at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust. He was originally working in the Early Intervention Psychosis Team at 80 St. Stephens. I am so pleased for him and I think he will be very successful in his new role and a huge asset to the Trust.

Peter was the NHS representative mentor for the project and joined ‘Yessicas Journey’ last summer. Although I am sad to see him go and will miss his input, I am pleased he has a new job helping many people within the Wellbeing Service.

I would like to thank Peter for all the time he has given me and to the ‘Yessicas Journey’ project. I would like to thank him for his enthusiasm and interest and I appreciate all the time and advice he has given. He has been a great Mentor and has brought so much to the project. He was especially helpful with the script and feedback and I will never forget the comments he made after reading it. I knew straight away that he had a very good understanding of Psychosis and Mental Health. He also attended the Voice Over recording for the script last year which was great. Hopefully Peter will be able to come to the launch when the animation is finished.

I am so pleased that there are people like Peter working in the Trust who really understand Mental Health and Wellbeing. I have enjoyed working with Peter who I consider to be a very kind and caring person. I am sure he will be able to help many people within the NHS with mental health difficulties. He has good understanding and communication skills and I wish him every success for the future.

Many Thanks Peter


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How Apple iPads improve the patient experience

Link to article from Health Leaders sent by Linked in

Apple UK Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © Linked in Article – Health Leaders Media.

I got this article sent to me via the LinkedIn Social Network for Professionals. Please read the article link above. It is really interesting that they are using Apple’s iPad in creative ways. It is helping plan patients care and clinical care. It is helping patient education and planning their care and recovery.

I have been using Apple computers for years and love them. They are so easy to use and very visual. As a creative artist the ease of use, reliability and visual interface makes it unique in the computer world. Highly recommend Apple Macs, they are reliable and rarely get viruses compared to PC’s.

Screenshot of iPad taken from Apple UK website

© Copyright 2012 screenshot taken from Apple UK website.  All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. 

I think that is it great that the NHS is embracing technology in a creative way. I hope this is something the Mental Health Organisations will consider as I think it could be very beneficial in Mental Health and Wellbeing.