Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Working the room

I couldn't let yesterday go by without jotting down some thoughts.  16 November 2015 has got to go down as one of the more eventful days in my adult life!

It started with a 9am deadline, to submit a tender for a small piece of consultancy work for a large mental health charity.  This work (if I am lucky enough to get it!) would be a fantastic start to my fledgling business, Out Of My Mind.  I didn't have long to respond to the Invitation To Tender, but I was relatively happy with what I managed to produce over the weekend (mainly because I persuaded an amazing lady with fabulous credentials to partner with me on the bid!).

The day then continued with a visit to the illustrious Royal College of Psychiatrists for their perinatal annual forum.  I was hosting a workshop on peer support and third sector services in perinatal mental health, alongside my patient representative colleague Cath Beard.  Cath was instrumental in setting up the Friends of the Birmingham MBU, as well as volunteering with MaternalOCD.

The whole day was really interesting, with a brilliant keynote speech from Heather O'Mahen of Exeter University (on adapting IAPT for perinatal women) and a lively debate on the merits of extending perinatal services to families of children up to age 5.  Our peer support workshop was incredibly well attended, and the audience (of perinatal psychiatrists, psychologists and other health professionals) seemed really engaged with what Cath and I were presenting.

Anyone who has read this blog recently will know how passionate I have become about good quality peer support.  I hope we managed to convey both the amazing opportunities and potential risks of these services.  The feedback we got afterwards certainly seemed to suggest so.

After a quick glass of wine and a catch up with my favourite team from the Bethlem, it was home in an Uber to quickly change into my glad rags for the Mind Media Awards.  My beautiful friend Eve and I had been invited by the Mind Media team, as we are both currently working with them on a TOP SECRET popular TV show (watch this space, around Christmas time).  After some agonising over what to wear I was soon dolled up in my floor-length metallic gold dress, with full make-up (a rarity for me) and full Spanx for good measure.

Eve and I arrived at The Troxy (a spectacular Art Deco theatre in East London) to find the place already crammed with media types quaffing the free booze.  Help, we didn't know anyone!  How does one schmooze at this sort of event?!?

I quickly spotted the talented Victoria McDonald - health correspondent for Channel Four News, one of the award judges, and a shortlisted nominee herself for work including an interview with yours truly last year!  She was happy to chat for a while and I soon relaxed.  

Before taking our seats for the ceremony, Eve and I had a chance to promote the #PNDFamily cause in the photo booth:
I have never been so pleased with a photo of myself before!

The ceremony was hosted by former psychiatric nurse and now national institution herself, Jo Brand.  She gave us some hilarious anecdotes from her time on a psychiatric emergency ward, dealing with over-zealous police recruits and tyrannical matrons.  There was also many serious messages in her introduction: about the "theme" of the evening (suicide) and how there is still plenty work to be done to remove the stigma of mental illness.

The winners, and to be fair all the shortlisted nominees, were all inspirational: putting out difficult messages, tackling taboo subjects, smashing stigma and speaking out.  I was delighted to see 24 Hours in A&E pick up a prize, as well as Victoria in the current affairs category (she was even kind enough to give me a wee shout out from the stage!).  

Nothing could beat the final award of the night however: a special "Making A Difference" award to Jonny Benjamin and his "Mike", Neil Laybourn.  Jonny and Neil spoke so brilliantly about what happened on Waterloo Bridge seven years ago, and how their lives have changed since.  I am so grateful to Neil for stopping Jonny jump that day, and for everything he continues to do to raise awareness and get people talking.  And Jonny.  Well Jonny is just my hero.  One of the nicest guys I've ever met, and so generous with his time and his heart.  ❤️

The rest of the night was just a warm fuzzy blur of free-flowing wine, not much food, and ensnaring any vaguely famous or well-connected person in Eve and I's vicelike perinatal pincer grip.  Here are just a few of the people we met, and talked to about postpartum psychosis and maternal mental health:
Myself, Dr Ranj from CBeebies, and Eve
Myself and David Robb aka Dr Clarkson from Downton Abbey!!

Myself, the beautiful Frankie Bridge, and the equally gorgeous Eve.

I really hope all this great work, and the amazing connections made at the event, continues into 2016.  Well done to Mind Charity and especially their fantastic media team for all their hard work in 2015.