Yessica's Journey Blog

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


Leave a comment

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.

IMG_0140

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.

IMG_3710

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_3760

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.

IMG_3781

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.

IMG_3741

Sue Baker and MPs

IMG_0134

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

IMG_0133

Alastair Campbell who attended the event

IMG_3730

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.

IMG_3726

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.

IMG_3724

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.

IMG_3721

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

IMG_3707

IMG_3708

IMG_3792

IMG_3790

IMG_3704

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

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


Leave a comment

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.

IMG_2546

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.

IMG_2539

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.

IMG_2540

Staff from the Early Intervention Team

IMG_2538

Peter Edge on the left at the Staff Away Day

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.


1 Comment

Maggie Wheeler (Chair) is Leaving the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Thank you for being my mentor for the project.

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

Maggie Wheeler who has been Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is leaving the Trust after working there for over 10 years. I was really pleased to be invited to her leaving party. Below is a picture of Maggie with flowers she received and Graham Creelman who is the Non-Executive Director at the Trust. Graham made a speech at the party.

Maggie Wheeler, Chair and Graham Creelman Non Executive Director

Maggie Wheeler, Chair and Graham Creelman Non Executive Director

I was really sad to see Maggie leave, I have only known her for a very short time and she is a lovely kind person with a warm heart, she is also very bubbly and has a great sense of humor. Maggie has been one of my mentors for the Yessica’s Journey project and I would like to thank her for all her time and support, she has been a brilliant mentor and I will miss her.

Here is Maggie cutting her cake. Maggie is now the Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and Chair of the Garage and is an Associate at Foresight Partnership.

IMG_1467

Maggie Wheeler cutting her cake

IMG_1478

B Maggies Leaving Party

There were lots of people at the party and some lovely food. Maggie received some gifts from the Trust including some lovely jewellery.

  IMG_1470 IMG_1471

Stephen Fletcher Chair of the Service Users Council making a speech

Graham Creelman, non executive Director of the Trust making a speech.Stephen Fletcher Chair of the Service Users Council also made a speech.

Below is a slide show of more images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a comment

Oz Osborne New Production Manager for Yessica’s Journey

Oz Osborne Production Manager and Anastacia

Oz Osborne Production Manager and Anastacia

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

I am pleased to anounce that Oz Osborne who has worked with me from the start of the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project is the new Production Manager. Oz has helped and supported me all the way through this project and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him in the future. Oz works for Time to Change/Mind and is also a freelance Mental Health consultant and does a lot of work for the Human Library.

We will be meeting once a month to help keep the project on track.


Leave a comment

Meeting with David Neat about designs for Yessicas Head

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

I went down to London to see David Neat who is making Yessica’s Heads to discuss my designs for the character. I spent quite a long time designing her heads and have redesigned her many times from my initial ideas. I think she has improved a lot and I am really pleased with the final designs.

David Neat in his studio in London

David Neat in his studio in London

David is the sculptor and modelmaker for Yessica’s Heads and is a professional highly experienced modelmaker. He made the set for the animation which looks amazing. He has never made a puppet head before so it was quite a challenge for him and I am so pleased he agreed to make her. He had started to make the sculpts which look brilliant and it was very exciting to see her coming to life. David is very talented and is a perfectionist which shows in all of his work, the attention to detail on the heads is amazing and I can’t thank him enough for his hard work.

IMG_0791

David working in his studio

Anastacia holding the sculpts of Yessica's heads which David has made, sorry not going to show you what they look like, you will have to wait and see

Anastacia holding the sculpts of Yessica’s heads which David has made, they looked like chocolate lolipops on sticks. Sorry can’t show you anything yet hence the blobs of white.

David Neat Model Maker © 2012 Astrid Baerndal Photo taken during a workshop David was giving at the National Gallery.

David Neat Model Maker © 2012 Astrid Baerndal Photo taken during a workshop David was giving at the National Gallery.