Tag: Hafal

Mental health awareness week

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 has the theme of ‘surviving or thriving’, this also being the title of a new report from the Mental Health Foundation. Included in this document is a summary of research completed by NatCen, on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation, into the prevalence of mental health problems across the population and into the activities that people do to manage these.

Here’s a snip from the report, summarising the self-reported difficulties experienced by the 2,290 people who took part:

MHF thriving
Extracted from Surviving or thriving

Using their NatCen data the Mental Health Foundation goes on to highlight major health inequalities. Almost three quarters of those on the lowest household income report experience of mental health difficulties, compared to six in ten of the wealthiest. A large majority of unemployed people responding reported experience of mental health problems, with women and younger people also particularly affected.

These findings are broadly in line with those reported in the most recent Mental Health and Wellbeing in England Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, the data for which was collected in 2014. This is the latest in a series of studies dating back to 1993, involving (in the 2014 iteration) a sample of some 7,500 people. In the case of Surviving or thriving, the new (to me, at any rate) detail is the reporting of what actions people take to help themselves with their difficulties. Here’s another snip:

Surviving 2
Extracted from Surviving or thriving

Family and friends, outdoor physical activity and hobbies look to be the three most-used strategies. I can’t say I’m surprised by this, and am reminded of the value placed in relationships with others by people taking part in COCAPP.

Elsewhere during Mental Health Awareness Week, The Guardian has published a number of pieces including this one on the shortage of mental health nurses and this one on Hafal‘s Gellinudd Recovery Centre (about which I previously blogged here). Coincidentally, this is also the month that the full and final report from COCAPP-A has been accepted for publication: well done Alan Simpson for leading this work. This mighty tome, reporting from our cross-national study into care planning and coordination in acute mental health inpatient settings, has now proceeded to the production arm of the NIHR and is scheduled to appear in gold open access form towards the end of the year. In the meantime, work is progressing to produce papers for journals. More on these to follow in due course.


Recovery Colleges

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Gellinudd, the soon-to-be-opened recovery centre in Pontardawe run by the Welsh mental health charity Hafal. I was there with my Cardiff colleague Aled Jones, but also with Shu-Jen Chen (a former PhD student of mine: as an aside, follow this link for a copy of her thesis, which is on self awareness and the therapeutic use of self in Taiwanese community mental health nurses), four of her students from the College of Nursing at the Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology and one of our Cardiff mental health nursing students, Alys Jones.

Following this link takes you to the report of our visit published on the Hafal website, complete with photos. The Gellinudd Recovery Centre is opening at the beginning of 2017, and will be Wales’ first recovery college. Recovery colleges are a relatively new arrival within the mental health system; a useful introduction to them is this Centre for Mental Health briefing. The Gellinudd Recovery Centre buildings used to be an NHS hospital, and the whole is located in very pleasant woodland. Right now, Hafal is recruiting for registered nurses (and others) to work there.

Recovery, it has to be said, can mean different things to different people. This is one of the things we found in COCAPP, as we reported in our main findings paper. No shared understanding was revealed amongst people taking part in our interviews. Hafal write about what they believe ‘recovery’ means in their booklet, Recovery: the way ahead for people with severe mental illness. This is referenced in the job descriptions currently on the Hafal website as part of their current Gellinudd recruitment campaign. They place particular emphasis on empowerment, a whole person approach and progress. The term which will be used in the recovery centre to refer to people in residence is ‘guests’, and plans are in place to make the most of the centre’s green environment.

Elsewhere, #NPNR2016 is now only a few weeks away. We meet in Nottingham, and the conference promises to be an excellent one. I’ll aim to post some more about this at a later point.

Returning to the REF

Photo by Antony Theobald (ant.photos) Creative Commons 2.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) licence

This is the month that universities in the UK make their submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. The REF is a big deal, as I’ve written about before. It is also continuing to attract plenty of commentary, much of it critical. For some time Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at Oxford University, has been using her personal blog to critique exercises in research rating. Her objections include their poor cost-effectiveness and the dangers of using journal impact factors as a proxy for the quality of individual papers. In his blog Peter Coles, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at Sussex University, has attacked the REF for becoming self-serving. Quoting from a Times Higher Education (THE) story he also writes of the practice in some universities of research-active academics not selected for REF return being shifted onto teaching-only contracts. This week, Professor Peter Scott from the Institute of Education writes in The Guardian that research assessment is now ‘out of control’ whilst the THE has recently reported on the case of Lancaster University historian Professor Derek Sayer who has appealed against the decision to include him in the REF on the grounds that the procedures used to exclude some of his colleagues have been discriminatory.

And so it goes on. In the REF proper, outputs (typically articles in journals) will be graded by experts as ‘world leading’ (4*), ‘internationally excellent’ (3*), ‘internationally recognised’ (2*), ‘nationally recognised’ (1*) or as either ‘sub-national’ or ‘not research’. These gradings will be made using the criteria of originality, significance and rigour. Universities get to select which of their staff will be included in their returns, drawing on their preparatory assessments of the quality of eligible outputs and underpinned by strategic ambitions of where they want to be in the HE firmament once the official REF results are published and institutions ranked. My guess is that, for most researchers and their employers, the most important distinction needing to be made will have been between outputs which are internationally excellent (3*) and outputs which are ‘only’ internationally recognised (2*). For reasons of reputation and likely future funding an article assessed as being at least the former is much more likely to be included in a REF submission than one which is not.

Quality assessments informing imminent REF returns will have been made by busy people with varying degrees of expertise in the (sub)areas in which the papers they have been reading lie. I’m going to speculate that there will be many hundreds (thousands?) of academics with outputs which will have attracted inconsistent scores from internal and external reviewers. Who knows, perhaps there are even some with individual outputs assessed by different people as simultaneously being ‘world leading’ and ‘unclassified’. Many will certainly have papers differentially judged as being 2* or 3*, leaving all sorts of tricky decisions to be made on submission or non-submission with all manner of possible consequences for both individuals and universities.

Back in the world of actually doing research, as opposed to the world of assessing research outputs and fretting over returns to assessment exercises, I am pleased to say COCAPP is now receiving questionnaires from service users and RISC is deep into phase 2. If you head over to this NISCHR page you’ll also find news of the Plan4Recovery project, led by Michael Coffey. This is a collaboration involving Hafal, and I’m very pleased to be a co-applicant along with Sherrill Evans and Alan Meudell. Plan4Recovery is advertising for a research officer, and is about to have its first advisory group meetings. Exciting times.

World Mental Health Day 2013 [update]

Now that I have learned how to embed YouTube videos into this blog (it isn’t difficult, really) I can update this morning’s post by adding a clip of Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services Professor Mark Drakeford speaking, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2013, at the Senedd. My thanks to Hafal for using its twitter account to draw my (and everyone else’s) attention to this:

World Mental Health Day 2013

Today is World Mental Health Day. Here’s a snip from the WHO:

Every year on 10th of October, The World Health Organization joins in celebrating the World Mental Health Day. The day is celebrated at the initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health and WHO supports this initiative through raising awareness on mental health issues using its strong relationships with the Ministries of health and civil society organizations across the globe. WHO also develops technical and communication material and provides technical assistance to the countries for advocacy campaigns around the World Mental Health Day.

The theme of World Mental Health Day in 2013 is “Mental health and older adults”.

Here in Wales, the day is being marked by (amongst other things) the organisation Hafal bringing its latest campaign, Lights! Camera! ACTION!, to the Senedd in Cardiff. From Hafal’s website I see that this event will be attended by the Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services, Professor Mark Drakeford. I hope this all goes well, as I’m sure it will. Last month’s revelation that Asda, Tesco and Amazon were selling ‘mental patient fancy dress costumes’ reminds us (as if it were needed) of the progress still to be made to improve public understanding of mental health issues and to tackle stigma and discrimination.

For a general overview of mental health priorities and challenges around the world, here’s a five minute video produced by the World Health Organization:

Reflections on a pre-conference week

Funding for Welsh students and Welsh universities is in tonight’s news, I see, and I’m beginning to wonder how long the Welsh Government’s current policy in this area will survive. More immediately, it’s been a varied enough week for me personally: and that’s without my two days at the NPNR conference in Warwick which begin with a frighteningly early start tomorrow morning. But at least I’ll have Gerwyn Jones and Mohammad Marie in the car for company, so all will be well.

Highlights so far include a meeting of (most of) the excellent RiSC team (which includes the newly-professored Steven Pryjmachuk), to make further progress on our evidence review of ‘risk’ for young people moving into, through and out of inpatient mental health services. This is a two-phase project, and we’re now in the second segment. This is involving searches for research and other materials across a number of databases, and putting out calls for evidence to local services and other organisations.

Data has continued to be generated in COCAPP, and this week a date has been set for a first planning meeting for an exciting new project I am involved in led by Michael Coffey. More to follow on this in the fullness of time, I expect. And yesterday took me to a second meeting of the Mental Health Research Network Cymru Service User and Carer Partnership Research Development Group, an event convened at Hafal‘s premises located in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans: National History Museum. A good place, St Fagans: well worth a visit.

Elsewhere there have been comments to make on students’ draft assignments, research ethics committee work, undergraduate teaching to prepare (on roles in health and social care teams) and writing plans to be laid. I’ve also been reading a PhD ahead of a viva scheduled in the next few weeks. So this short post will do for tonight: time to knock off, iron some shirts, pack a bag and have an early night.