Experience – User Involvement & Consultation

Mental Health Involvement Group – Gordy’s Experience

Well, I’m no activist, but I like to be heard as much as the next person, especially when it concerns my health and wellbeing.

In 2010 I suffered a mental breakdown (If that’s what they still call it) and was hospitalised for my own safety, and on my discharge it left me feeling vulnerable, unable to communicate and a virtual recluse, so I have seen both sides of the coin.

In 2011 I was introduced to FDAMH and I have never looked back. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs, but I would not have been where I am today if it had not been for the organisation. They offered me an olive branch on equal terms and I snapped it up.

Over the years they encouraged me to get involved and I started coming out of my shell a bit, joining in discussion groups and panels which were aimed at changes in the Mental Health. I have always been a believer that if you want change, you have to stand up and be counted, but when your confidence has taken a kicking, it’s not easy.

About a year ago I heard that we were getting Linda McGonigle, a new Service User and Carer Involvement Co-ordinator who was coming from Forth Valley Health Board, having been in a managerial position there for many years so it immediately sparked an interest. Linda, to me seemed very enthusiastic in her position and immediately proposed that an involvement group could be set up if there was any interest in it.

Myself and 6 or 7 others attended the first meeting with Linda and the Mental Health Involvement Group was born. We started finding our feet and everyone who attended started to play a part, bringing even the shyest into the mix. It’s an easy going group with an interest in the fundamentals of Mental Health and Wellbeing and what we can do to influence things in the future. We are now involved in a project using the Scottish Recovery Network’s new tool, the SRI2 and examining our own organisation in respect of how it promotes recovery.

Being involved in the group has certainly given me a bit of the old confidence back and I always feel welcome and a worthy member of the group. I think that is the general feeling amongst all the members or they wouldn’t come back for more, so if you fancy being heard why not pop in, we don’t bite.

Gordy

Tags: User Involvement & Consultation
07/04/2015 at 10:28 am


On getting involved and why everybody has something to contribute!

I knew already about the Involvement Group when Linda first mentioned to me the possibility of joining (I have a tendency to read posters and things wherever I go, a legacy of boring waits in the doctor’s surgery when I was a child…). But I will admit that I was a bit uncertain at first about getting involved, in truth I wasn’t sure whether I really had anything to offer. I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it was very nice to be asked, and that seeing as Linda had asked so nicely it was only polite to give it proper consideration. So I said that I would come along and attend a meeting and see how I felt.

A couple of months, and two meetings, later and I can honestly say that I will be sticking around. What I came to realise at the first meeting was not only that I had something to contribute, but also that everybody does. We all have experiences, and because of that we all have our different viewpoints, and all of them are valid. We all have something to say about what works well and what could be improved in Mental Health Services provision, and it is important that we take the opportunities to have our voices heard.

I think it is going to be a bit of a challenge admittedly. There is a lot of change coming in terms of how services are provided, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to have a voice. I’ve also volunteered to help in the process of assessing FADHM’s services against the Scottish Recovery Networks quality indicators. (I grew up amongst Air Force kids, you’d think I’d have learned how to not be there when the magic “volunteer” word was said wouldn’t you?) I think there may be a tiny little bit of work involved in that, but I am actually quite looking forward to it.

Thinking back about it, it feels nice to have been asked and I am quite glad that I decided to say yes. I think it is an important thing to be involved it, and I think it is a challenge I am going to enjoy.

Tags: User Involvement & Consultation
22/01/2015 at 1:20 pm