It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World - Mental WellBeing in the 21st©

  • December 4, 2012 · 6:30 PM
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Kevan Jones MP has agreed to host a meeting for us on mental wellbeing in the 21st century. He is one of the first MPs to come out openly about his own battle against depression and the difficulty of speaking out.

In the 21st century we are beginning to change our attitudes towards mental wellbeing. We know that one in four of us will face mental health problems in our lifetime and we also know that the pressures of modern life can adversely affect the wellbeing of us all.

And yet we are often cautious over discussing mental wellbeing openly in the way we do our physical state of health. In this meetup we want to open up the discussion so we understand mental wellbeing better and to see what we can do to make it more prominent on the Government’s agenda. To help us with this we have as speakers,

Kevan Jones is the MP for North Durham and was a Minister in the Ministry of Defence in the last Government. He spoke out about his mental health problems in the House of Commons. Two Conservative MPs also spoke about their own situations. Kevan Jones appealed for a change of culture that would make it easier for other people, including fellow MPs, to reveal their mental health problems, without it being viewed as a sign of weakness., and without them being discriminated against. For this he received considerable support and praise.

And there are other high profile celebrities coming forward : Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax to name but two, having the courage to speak out and lift the lid on what has for too long been unnecessarily hidden.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive Officer MIND - the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales since May 2006. Paul is Chair of the Disabilities Charities Consortium, Vice-Chair of the Department of Health Talking Therapies Programme Board and Chair of the Equalities and Diversity Forum panel on human rights.  Paul is a trustee at the Mental Health Providers Forum, an umbrella body for voluntary organisations supporting people with mental distress. He was a trustee for the Directory of Social Change, a campaigning voluntary organisation that provides the sector with training and publications.Before becoming Chief Executive of Mind, Paul was Director of Public Affairs for Rethink and was Chair of the Mental Health Alliance from 2001-2006.

Mark Rice-Oxley is an assistant news editor on the foreign desk of The Guardian. He spent a decade as a foreign correspondent working in Paris, Moscow and other parts of Eastern Europe before joining the Guardian on its foreign desk in 2004. On paper, things looked good for Mark: wife, children, fulfilling job. But then, at his 40th birthday party, his whole world crumbled as he succumbed to depression. He has written a book “Underneath the Lemon Tree: A Memoir of Depression and Recovery,” which can be found here at amazon.co.uk

After the House of Commons revelations, one Conservative MP pledged to introduce a backbench bill to scrap “archaic” laws, relating to mental health. They prevented mentally- ill people running firms, becoming school governors and undertaking jury service – and forced MPs to lose their seats.

When the pressures and stresses of our present century are creating strains and often dysfunction, then creating an understanding that we may all suffer in some way or the other is important, and will place mental wellbeing as something that concerns us all. We hope this discussion will help in the process of changing attitudes.

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  • David T.

    So many different strands to the issues discussed. As a counsellor & psychotherapist, I felt I had some useful knowledge that perhaps could be shared via future events or dialogues with those who need to know more. Send me a message if that's you and I'll endeavour to assist.

    1 · December 4, 2012

    • David T.

      As far as ongoing support goes, the issue for many, as I said in the meeting, is often funding. If you can afford to pay for a therapist privately that is by far the easiest option for longer term support. Kevan Jones MP will almost certainly have paid for talking therapy for 3 years privately, not in any state funded operation. And often enabling a person to make fundamental changes does take some time.

      There are some free and low cost therapy options out there but very often time-limited - 20 sessions is good if via the NHS, fewer (4,5,6) is common, and yes with large waiting lists and an element of post code lottery. These services can, for many, really only scratch the surface in my view.

      2 · December 5, 2012

    • Porsche

      QSW here, and also qualified in the U.S. Willing to help if this gets off the ground, depending on day(s) & time(s).

      December 16, 2012

  • Piercarla

    I would like to add a thought: how is in other countries, maybe also European countries? Do they have the same societal judgment and labelling towards mental health? If not, what do they do different? Do they have different beliefs? How can the societal beliefs be shifted to be more similar to the ones of those countries?

    2 · December 5, 2012

    • Catherine Sarah H.

      It is not just about Italy... it is an international conference

      December 5, 2012

    • Catherine Sarah H.

      A debate about Domestic Violence would be great to have as there are many topics coming from this honor killings etc etc

      1 · December 5, 2012

  • Francis S.

    Thanks to all those who attended this meeting at the House of Commons. It was a packed meeting and really worth doing. Kevan Jones MP was so open about his past depression as was Mark Rice Oxley that it created a really inspiring event. The drama sketch at the beginning was a great ice breaker and thanks to Andrea Gordon for arranging it and indeed for the idea of the meeting.

    Any ideas about following this up we would love to hear so please let us know.

    5 · December 5, 2012

    • Catherine Sarah H.

      I have been to many meetings ... about it ... we could relate it to the mental health topic... as many provides are afraid that they will lose out. This is why when i attend meeting i have been stating that the acute sector has to start working more in collaborative working about mental health. As staff on the acute side are not trained to be able to cope with people with mental health and learning difficulties... so many people are being mus-daignosed causing them further stress and their health deteriorating.

      December 5, 2012

    • Catherine Sarah H.

      Also people being dis-charged from hospital without care package in place from acute side... which brings in the welfare reform bill..many people being sent home to either and empty house or children as carers.. we can speak a little when you call me about the webinar sweety

      December 5, 2012

  • Phil S.

    A really great event. Many thanks to Francis and team!

    Here is a mental well-being resource you might be able to use or recommend to friends and colleagues:

    The charity Work Stress Solutions has created a safe and nurturing office environment for those recovering from work-stress related problems. Based in Ewell, South West London, they have psychotherapists and CBT specialists on hand if needed - (with working practices on the same premises).

    Workstresssolutions.co.uk helps people regain confidence and get back into work via a safe and nurturing office environment using real office work projects and courses on confidence building among other things.

    You can get in touch with them via the website or contact me for more information if you like.

    2 · December 5, 2012

  • Antonia Z.

    Honest, brave, intelligent speakers on panel and on the floor. Well attended, lively, broad debate on very relevant subject. Greater information on further research, action, support always useful. Particularly info on support structures in workplace and schools. Wellness, prevention, education and awareness building vital areas that need further focus. Talking about this at a time when economic policies are (arguably) an increasing and negative influence on mental health, both directly and indirectly, is essential, as fear and ignorance forge scapegoats of those with mental health concerns.

    3 · December 5, 2012

  • Antonia Z.

    Thank-you for the audio recording, Francis! Looking forward to edited sections if possible (she says cheekily) :)

    December 5, 2012

  • Antonia Z.

    Encouraging meeting yesterday, many thanks to speakers, official & from the floor, for their honesty, ideas and voice. It was worth travelling from Nottingham as Sarah & I did. We'll be feeding back to our WEA women leading learning group.

    Things I would like to (re)highlight - the need to include prevention & understanding / tools for wellness from schools onward. Dealing with life's (arguably increasing) stresses requires skills & awareness. Mental health issues are often found in families who therefore benefit from education / resilience building being given to children in order to limit risks of generational traumas. Also, building understanding from a young age on what mental wellness is may help in the battle against stigma & fear later. Community work also core as we live increasingly unhealthily isolated lives.

    Also, mental health is not isolated from social, economic and environmental injustices, which fuel stress. ATOS measures, poorly managed, could be called fascist.

    1 · December 5, 2012

  • Marina C.

    Fantastic meeting! Very brave and open people.
    What I have found useful in my own journey so far is self-development and meditation which has led me to looking more within. Furthermore I have learned to generate more and more positive thoughts that have transformed my life. Thoughts have frequencies and vibrations. The mind is like a wild horse but the good news is that we can train it to be more tame. The mind can become our friend.
    There is a fantastic center in Covent Garden that does FREE courses on positive thinking, stress-free living, overcoming anger and meditation. The talks are also great for topping up on practical techniques that can help us in every day life.
    http://www.innerspace.org.uk/

    There are also centers all around the London, the country and the world so contact them for more info. : )

    3 · December 5, 2012

    • Gem

      Oh what a fantastic place! I think i shall be paying them a visit (or two) many thanks for this.

      December 5, 2012

  • Mothiur R.

    Really inspiring to hear so many stories of bravery in the face of mental adversity. Thanks to both Andrea and Francis for organising, and to the speakers for speaking so openly. I went from being a planning lawyer to being involved in the Occupy movement. It was there, looking after the meditation tent, that I felt the rich tapestry of peoples' life experiences. A guy from Yorkshire had just left prison and was looking for a place to stay, an Irish lad was running away from a life of crime. I learnt so much by listening to their struggles for peace.

    Polly Higgins, Earth lawyer and Ecocide campaigner, said an indigenous leader had told her "only when we face the shadow side, and give it a name, can the healing begin." (http://eradicatingecocide.com). I feel there is a causal connection between corporations not avoiding but giving a name to the shadow sides of their employees' inner selves, and healing corporate behaviour so that it puts people and planet above profit.

    3 · December 5, 2012

  • Sundeep

    I promised to put the quote I mentioned in my question yesterday up here for a few folks. Here you go:

    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
    - J. Krishnamurti

    And Frances / Andrea, great job.

    4 · December 5, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Excellent meeting - I came away feeling uplifted, hopeful and eager to see what the future holds for mental WELLness :)

    2 · December 5, 2012

  • Jay B.

    Probably the most interesting talk I have been to . very well participated.

    1 · December 5, 2012

  • Jay B.

    Very interesting meeting last night. Some good points were raised and I felt that the audience participated well. I think some of the most interseting points were raised in the last few minutes by the audience and I would have liked to discuss things further but had to leave. Thank you Francis, your work is appreciated.

    1 · December 5, 2012

  • Krishna

    I need help to use my Abilities and not be persecuted for my Disability. This is a civilised society but we are slipping into being uncivilised.

    1 · December 5, 2012

  • Krishna

    David and Neil you make very relevant points I was not able to attend last night because totally unsettled by Atos withdrawing my ESA. It was stopped because I missed 3 monthly Appointment, my husband had just had prostate op for cancer. seeking help today to appeal. Have had depressive illness since age 19, have managed so far best time was 2 yrs ago got Direct payment for PA, One day at Day centre, Support worker and counsellor, all taken in one stroke last year, so struggling. I am multi skilled with a little help I was managing. It does not surprise me that 73 people a week are taking their lives after being Ill treated by ATOS, who are making millions in profit.

    1 · December 5, 2012

  • Gem

    I found that to be an immensely informative and enlightening experience, what a wonderful first meet up to attend with you.

    1 · December 5, 2012

  • terence f.

    An interesting topic which filled the committee room The speakers spoke wekk and evoked questions and comments in depth from the audience. Much networking followed. Thank you Francis.

    1 · December 4, 2012

  • Porsche

    Informative & reaffirming.

    December 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I thought this was a very timely & thought provoking talk and appreciated the speakers & audience speaking honestly and openly about the subject.

    1 · December 4, 2012

  • Jazz R.

    Monitor your Mental Health. People from over 30 different nations are currently managing their mental & social wellbeing using a new web based technology, Atmascape, which creates colour ‘weather maps’ of their mental, emotional and social health. I've put up a PDF for those interested in using it for themselves..
    http://files.meetup.com/466780/mhealth.pdf

    December 4, 2012

  • Neil M.

    No one should ignore the strong influence of environmental factors on an individual. The impact of bullying, abuse and mental torment through many years of verbal, physical and non-verbal means within society has resulted in many people in not finding a way out from falling under the mental health trap. Society today is mainly based on the success of the individual at the expense of others and because of this, doors of opportunities in people's lives are more likely to close down leading into a suffocating internal mental backlash without having the valve of being able to reach out to someone whom you can trust or in someone who relates to your experiences in life. There are techniques to live with a disability such as mental health and to cope with it and to even attempt to master living with it. We need to encourage such techniques to both cope with and improve mental well being both as a means of precaution as well as recovery.

    2 · November 30, 2012

    • Phil S.

      A really effective (and proven) program to reduce bullying is the Roots of Empathy program

      December 4, 2012

  • Alan

    why are so many people not paying a £10 sub? Why are subs not enforced?

    November 29, 2012

    • Alan

      I think you misunderstand. No-one here is saying there is a problem with people saying they are coming and not turning up. Meetup is supposed to exist for its members, and some groups are unnecessarily draconian in their treatment of people who don't turn up. But many things can intervene at the last moment, and then are people supposed to forfeit £10, or attend unwillingly? Many groups also have a no refund policy, and this is because they are commercial enterprises rather than altruistic ones.

      December 4, 2012

    • Fiona W.

      At Conway Hall members of the Ethical Society pay an annual subscription which covers entrance to all our Sunday lectures; visitors are asked to pay £3 on the door and encouraged to become members. The person 'on the door' has a check-list of members. I've

      December 4, 2012

  • Sri Ananda Prema S.

    I'm new and just payed :)

    1 · November 30, 2012

  • Philip

    The authors R Wilkinson and K Pickett in their book 'The Spirit Level' states that the life-diminishing results of valuing growth above equality in rich societies can be seen all around us. Inequality causes shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives; it increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction; it destroys relationships between individuals born in the same society but into different classes; and its function as a driver of consumption depletes the planet's resources (Lynsay Hanley: Guardian).

    The notion of mental wellbeing seems to be less stigmatising than mental illness; however do people have a shared perspective of what mental is. In general, calling someone 'mental' would be deemed as derogatory. So where does that leave us? Can the wellbeing of our mind be cured by repeat presciptions? Or is it really subjugation in disguise? How does this contribute to inequality differential?

    November 30, 2012

    • Krishna

      your talk about work rings very true. i will be looking at your site. I am hoping to take training to GP's surgery teams. i have just completed some training with Rethink in order to do that.

      November 30, 2012

  • Krishna

    some of us do struggle to make ends meet. As someone with hidden disability try my hardest to do right thing, but am prevented to do so despite trying v. hard. Hope we can talk further on 4th Dec at meetup.

    November 30, 2012

  • Diana

    I'd very much like to attend this event so if you can no longer attend please make this known so that those of us on the waiting list can attend.

    November 29, 2012

  • Catherine Sarah H.

    November 28, 2012

  • Gem

    Very much looking forward to this event. A larger amount of people than i am comfortable sharing in a room with but happy to make the concession for the occasion and topic.

    November 28, 2012

  • claire o.

    unless we take serious action.there will be no meaningful therapy available in the nhs. therapists and counsellors clinics are being.axed and there seems little to do about this truly disgraceful and worrying situation. six.seshions of.cbt is not.an.answer

    2 · November 21, 2012

    • Krishna

      I could not agree more, have had long term therapy and its best thing I ever did!!

      2 · November 21, 2012

    • claire o.

      that is my point.there will not be any.and.as.short term.six.week intervention is just.a sticking plaster on a wound that will.probably be.abolished.pretty soo n

      2 · November 21, 2012

  • Phil S.

    Unlike the last century, through the new science of neuropsychology and modern brain-scanning techniques it's now known that mental stability in adulthood depends greatly on brain development during the first three years of life.
    Trauma, either direct or witnessed, suffered by the infant brain can cause mental problems not only in childhood but throughout adult life.
    Early interventions and baby-centric services based on attachment theory probably offer the most effective way to improve mental well-being in the 21st Century.
    The Mindful Policy Group has useful information related to this at www.mindfulpolicygroup.com

    2 · November 21, 2012

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