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Recently Your Voice was asked to feature a piece from the Come As You Are Blog, an anonymous blog with underlying themes of mental health. Created by the young for the young, Come As You Are Blog is a safe platform for young people to share their experiences relating to mental health. Everyone who has contributed to the blog just wants to talk about what they have experienced and prove that they’re all very similar.
Hello – I’m Kate McDonnell and I’m the new chair of Bath Mind.
I want to start by paying a tribute to my predecessor, Richard Ellis. He has been a trustee and chair of Bath Mind for many years, contributing ideas, leadership, ensuring rigorous governance. So, a huge thanks from all of us to him – and I’m delighted to say he’s going to carry on with us as a trustee.
I’ve been a trustee since 2014. Like everyone here though – my connection with Bath Mind is personal. I’ve self-harmed for nearly 30 years, but thought that the pain I felt was my fault. It turns out that I had bipolar disorder, which was only diagnosed a couple of years ago. I naturally became very interested in mental health and came to Bath Mind to volunteer as a designer. And what I found here was an amazing, dedicated group of people who support people just like me.
For mental health, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, this is the best of times and the worst of times. The best – because mental health has the highest political and social profile it has had in years. It’s been the anti-Europe issue if you will – and united the political parties! Norman Lamb, Alan Milburn and Stephen Dorrell came together a few weeks ago to state that mental health needs greater support and priority, to no longer be the Cinderella of health services.
In terms of media and the cultural sphere – we are finally getting to a place where celebrities, athletes and others – are openly speaking about their mental health issues. This is a HUGE leap forward from a few years ago, when anything to do with mental health was considered taboo, and to be brushed under the carpet. Getting the message that mental health is not something you need to be ashamed of – and can receive support for – is a hugely important message – especially for younger people and vulnerable groups.
As part of Bath Mind, we are all responsible for helping change the profile and attitudes towards mental health. It’s organisations like ours that have helped to challenge prejudice, support people’s needs, increase public understanding about mental health. Well done us!
But the challenges. Whilst we’re small but mighty, we have to prioritise what we do. We now know what we’re going to do over the next five years with the launch of our new strategic plan. It’s not news that the funding situation out there is tough, and these are going to be challenging financial times for all small organisations. We’re all going to be working hard to find new sources of income so that we can achieve our goals.
But you know what… I’m confident about our future. And my confidence is down to the dedication, support and hard work of all of you. Everyone at Bath Mind has made a positive difference to mental health. I’m quite overwhelmed when I think about the team at the office, the supporters, volunteers, donors, trustees – everyone who gives their time, support, dedication, inspiration, creativity… to Bath Mind. Thank you so much – together we help create better mental health for people in Bath & North East Somerset.
Now, this is on a much more serious note. The Mentoring and Advocacy Department of
Bath Mind including the much valued befriending service will cease to be on the
31st of March 2015*. They have had to manage without funding from the council
for the last 2 years. A sorry state of affairs when B.A.N.E.S. Council itself
admit that Bath has the lowest level of care in the South West and it’s getting
worse. Various governments over the years have promised improvements but I have
yet to see the evidence. It appears that Mental Health sufferers can take a
back seat and get quietly ignored when grants are given out to various “more
important” concerns … Bath Mind should be considered an asset to Bath and not
simply another expensive handout! I wonder if our badly done by M.P’s would
consider foregoing their subsidised dinners and other privileges at the House of
Commons? That might help organisations like Mind even if only a little bit.
Perhaps we could write to our M.P’s in Parliament and badger them like the giant
corporations do to get what they want and usually get! There are lots of ways
they could help if the genuine concern was there. I can only wish Bath Mind the
very best for the future and hope beyond hope someone’s conscience get pricked
and something gets pulled out of the bag at the last minute. Very, very good wishes
for the future, Bath Mind.
Alan Cupit (a.k.a Mr (VERY) Angry)
* Editors Note: The Advocacy department did close last March but the befriending service still continues supported by donations.
On the news our PM says
He’ll bulldoze where I live today
But remember iron Mrs T
The Right to Buy her particularity
We spoke of where to house my friends
As social housing never ends
Then talked of keeping houses clean
With classy streets that don’t look mean
It suddenly brought back a gem
Of a poem by an ancient Master
About a dark and dingy house
Inhabited by a spider and his spouse.
So why don’t children read this now?
Queried the nurse against the way
Of always playing computer games
Glued to the TV whenever it rains
It’s coming back I cry with glee
It’s not entirely history
My friend’s grandchildren learnt at school
How to pen meter, rhyme and rule.
How did we reach this happy ending?
Well that’s the lost art of letter sending
It takes a little time it’s true
But must be more fun than texting you.
Effervescent from the ground
The water rises, soaking sound
It trickles during summer heat
Depleted yet never lost to us
The Autumn rains bring flooding despair
All life seems compromised, our homes declare
Emergency on harrowing scale
Again and again from too much rain.
We never could control the weather
Affecting every human endeavour
The River Ouse has burst its banks
We’re mopping up and clearing out.
Grow rice on Somerset’s level plain
But pray for cessation to the rain
British as the weather comes
Too much as bad as none at all.
One thing we know when snow is here
It only lasts for a fraction of the year
So please spare a thought for those
Who keep our roads from being closed.
Should you a bobby or fireman be
Or paramedic working for me
Accept our thanks, our grateful prayer
For most of us would never dare
Tackle this inclement season
With the voice of caring, professional reason.
The weather in deepest, darkest Jan
Is suddenly cold whilst I am pale and wan
But December was warm and overly wet
The dandelions are in bloom, the season is set.
Daffodils are out in time with catkins
Cel endings come and the birds join wild things
The flowers are all about and out of sync
The old year ended, New Year came in a blink.
What hopes have you as days grow longer?
To beat the purge, to feel as stronger
As the blossoms early on the bough
While magpies chatter and robins sigh.
I sit for moments at a time
In this our peaceful garden penning rhymes
And every poem that I draw
Denies the quest to search for more.
I’m thinking of my first old muse
How yellow Blighters he did persue
Attempting every year they came
To dig them up again and again.
They said they make you wet your bed
So darling muse just use your head
Oh be a friend to the dandelion
He’s bright and sunny in our garden.
By Meryl Williams
What a great week we have had here at Red Room Productions, with the final rehearsals of Borderland, a physical theatre production complete, we are ready to go, and really looking forward to sharing this new and compelling work with an audience.
Borderland is a provocative re-working of the 19th century Gothic novella The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Gilman-Perkins, which tells the story of a young mothers post-partum psychosis, who, confined to a Gothic mansion, and not listened to, tells of her frightening experience of a women not being heard. Little is known about this illness, and the project aimed to provide a voice.
Then, this week there is a major storyline on the popular soap opera, Eastenders, as the character, Stacey, is experiencing postpartum psychosis; this is a brilliantly observed storyline. Now people are talking and this little known illness is in the news, women are now talking about their experiences. I posted something on the BBC website about our installation at the 44AD Gallery and the Performance, and a woman from Action Post Partum, an online network, directly got in touch with me, and this is the wonderful part, she has offered to send stories of her own and other womens’ experiences to be part of the installation. This is serendipity at its best, this is very important and we are so grateful to have made these connections with real womens’ lives.
Borderland is at the University Theatre, Bath Spa University from 28th-30th January at 7.30pm, and 2pm on Saturday. Tickets from http://www.bathspalive.co.uk
Borderland, the installation runs from 26th-30th January at the 44AD Gallery, Bath. http://www.44ad.net
For more information contact http://www.marysteadman.co.uk