MC Magazine - Summer 2018

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Summer 2018

I’M ONLY HUMAN What will they think of me?

Is it time to ditch the diet books?

INSIDE You think no-one cares







We ask the experts.





A therapist’s view on dealing with social anxiety.



HEARING VOICES My imaginary friends got nasty. Read Raichael’s story.

MC magazine team: Managing Editor: Steve Murphy. Editor: Jackie Rankin.



THE SIGNS WERE THERE WITH AIDAN Why don’t we see them?

Contributors: Diane Cooke, Mark Hudson, Sue Ormesher. Editorial: Julie Crompton. Photography: Joel Goodman, Steve Murphy. Design: Jo Hadfield. Illustrations: Ella Byworth.

32 CALL THE SCHOOL NURSE 34 COUNCIL OF GOVENORS 35 MEET OUR GOVERNOR You can contact us at: MerseyCareNHSFoundationTrust @Mersey_Care @MerseyCareNHSFT


MEMBERSHIP AND GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation, a European-wide law, which governs how organisations can collect, use and transfer personal data. It came into force on 25 May 2018 alongside the new Data Protection Act 2018. As a Foundation Trust, Mersey Care has a statutory requirement to develop and maintain a membership and it is necessary for us to process our member’s personal data to perform this task. Our members are drawn from the public, people who use our services or care for people who use our services and staff. We request and securely hold data on our members, which they provide when joining our membership. The data we hold on our members enables us to show that we are representative of the community we provide services for, to keep members updated through our quarterly MC Magazine via email or post and to invite all members to the Annual General meeting. We also engage with all members advising when the election for governors will be taking place, giving members the opportunity to nominate themselves to become a governor and to vote in elections for the council of governors. Should you no longer wish to be a member of Mersey Care please email with your details or call 0151 471 2303 asking that your details be removed.


t was late but it’s here – summer. Days of outdoor living and light nights. It’s easier to connect with people, even if you’re only passing them in the street. Connecting is one of the five ways to wellbeing* – the others are be active, keep learning, take notice, and give. We did a quick survey in the MC Magazine team to find out what all this means to us. One was learning to drive, another giving time to a learning disabled relative by taking him along on his wedding anniversary weekend away. Taking notice for one of us meant an almost constant watch on a nest of chicks as they fledged from a tiny bird hut on the garden shed. Challenging but rewarding and enriching in their different ways. Facing challenges runs through this issue – two young women, one whose life has been dominated by the voices she began hearing when she was just eight years old. The other constantly being detained by police but feeling she had

Days of outdoor living and light nights. It’s easier to connect with people.

nowhere else to turn to for help with dark thoughts. Both got help and are moving on with their young lives. We look at how social anxiety can stop you connecting even with close friends, and how to get help. Eating well makes you feel better – it’s a proven fact. But which diet is best? Writer Sue Ormesher (right), herself coeliac, went armed with a library of diet books when she interviewed a dietitian – go to page 24 to see if there was a happy ending. So the message this summer is small steps – whether that’s walking a bit more, learning something new – or just looking around you and noticing. If you have any ideas send them to us at Enjoy!

The MC editorial team.

Is it time to ditch the diet books? *Five Ways to Wellbeing was developed by the New Ecomonics Foundation to find small ways that can improve someone’s mental wellbeing over their life.




verything I had ever read or heard about Eddie Hall worried me. Regularly portrayed as a self-absorbed, coarse, aggressive, angry man. Six feet three inches tall, weighing thirty stone and physically intimidating, a beast! It’s safe to say that meeting him for the first time generated a certain amount of anxiety. A perfect lesson in not judging a book by its cover. Eddie Hall is charming. A strong, physically powerful, focused, self-assured man but with an incredible honesty that makes him very easy to like. Born Edward Stephen Hall on 15th January 1988 weighing eight pounds and fourteen ounces in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. Working class and proud of it. “I was definitely a handful, I think. I wasn’t big on sharing. I’m not that keen today if truth be told.” “I was always into sport, I loved swimming and I was good at it. Hard to believe now, but I was fast.” So fast in fact that Eddie became a National Championship Swimmer between the ages of eleven and thirteen. He showed such potential he was invited to join the Olympic Youth Squad. “In true Eddie style, I messed up big. I was smoking in a dorm and set the smoke alarms off and got thrown off the team.”

Where I lived no-one ever talked about depression. This was a difficult time for Eddie who no longer had an obvious outlet for his energy. “It was about then I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I used to shut down emotionally. To make matters worse, at the same time I got expelled from high school. I was fifteen and lost. I really didn’t know what to do with my time or my life. Where I lived, no one ever talked about depression or understood what I was going through. The only advice I ever got was ‘get a job, that’ll sort you out’. It didn’t. I felt as though everything was closing in on me. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t even want to leave my room. That’s why my mum and dad sent me to a local gym, it was the only way to make me leave the house. Not only did my mood change, I very quickly started to feel in control of my anxiety and depression. For the first time, for a very long time, I felt that I was in the driving seat and I’d found something that I really liked doing. I’d got a purpose, a reason to get out of bed.”


I’M ONLY HUMAN Don’t judge a book by its cover… strongman Eddie Hall in conversation with Mark Hudson.


It is the goal that makes me want to work as hard as I do.

Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life? “So true. By the time I was seventeen not only had I discovered that I was good at weight lifting but I knew that if I worked hard, I could turn my hobby into a career. I was working as a roofer by day and doing twenty hours in the gym alongside. At nineteen I entered my first competition in Blackburn, I came fifth, I was gutted, but at least I was doing something I loved. I had rediscovered my self-worth. I really believe in that moment I knew that I wanted to become the World’s Strongest Man.” Over his burger and chips with a side order of chicken wings, Eddie confides that it’s the goal that is the ‘thing’. “Working towards something, a challenge, something that I haven’t achieved before, that’s what drives me. It is the goal that makes me want to work as hard as I do and allows me to put myself and my body under such pressure.” While listening to Eddie, I can absolutely see in his eyes this single-minded passion. A self-belief and work ethic that has seen him win and win big. English Strongest


Man at 21, United Kingdom Strongest Man at 23 and the ultimate prize, the World’s Strongest Man at 29, something else that he isn’t keen to share!

I love telling people my story, the highs and the lows! “It’s been hard work. To win, I train endlessly. To maintain my strength and my power I eat constantly, between seven and eight thousand calories a day. Full English breakfast, lunch with pudding, another lunch at mid-afternoon, an evening meal and then loads of protein snacks. This 30 stone body takes some feeding.” Noticing my shock and concern, Eddie assures me that he is constantly monitored, checked by doctors and blood nutritionists. “I keep it all in check of course I do, but my size has become part of who I am. I look after myself, I have to. I have sleep apnea and wear a breathing mask in bed. On the whole life is good. I always have so

much going on and I love that. I work hard in the gym each day and I travel all over the world commentating on competitions. Talking to groups of weight lifters and meeting the fans. Travelling has its problems - seats in cars, trains or aeroplanes are never big enough. I’m currently touring the UK with my own theatre tour. Eddie Hall, Worlds Strongest Man! “I love telling people my story, the highs and the lows! I only hope that I can help and inspire people who like me have struggled with anxiety and depression. I absolutely believe that with some work and with life changes, it really does get better! So many young people tell me that they feel as though they have been written off, that was me, that was exactly how I felt. Look at me now!”

@EddieHallWSM @EddieHallWSM EddieHallWSMLegend


STREET CAR REVOLUTION An innovative scheme is taking the pressure off emergency services and takes a more holistic approach to the care of people with mental health issues. By Diane Cooke


REAL LIFE STORY ‘Bill’ - a man with a long history of mental health issues - called the police 700 times in 18 months complaining about his neighbours.


s his distress escalated and he started to issue threats, the police had to attend each time to sort

it out.

These days Bill’s calls are limited to about three a month, thanks to an innovative scheme which takes the pressure off emergency services and takes a more holistic approach to the care of people with mental health issues. The Mental Health Triage Car scheme, which started in 2014, involves mental health professionals providing on-the-spot advice to police officers who are dealing with people in crisis. This advice can include an opinion on a person’s condition, or appropriate information sharing about a person’s health history. The aim is, where possible, to help police officers make appropriate decisions, based on a clear understanding of the background to these situations. This has led to people receiving appropriate care more quickly, better outcomes and a reduction in the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act - an emergency power which allows the police to take someone in mental health distress to a place of safety whether that be a hospital or simply returned home. The Triage car – there are three for the area – works in the evening in Merseyside between 4pm and midnight when other services are closed and people are more likely to experience problems.


Marian Bullivant, Operational Manager for the Mersey Care Liaison and Diversion service, says the scheme has brought about a dramatic drop in police issuing 136s and has hailed the scheme a great success. “We help people with all sorts of problems,” she says. “It may be that they are contemplating suicide around the docks or on a bridge. Sometimes it’s alcohol-related, or perhaps a relationship break-up. Other times hotels call us to disturbances. Often it’s a cry for help or even desperate feelings of loneliness. “Taking people to A&E takes up vital police and paramedic time which can be better used elsewhere. It was not uncommon for the police to spend hours waiting with someone in hospital. We aim to link those people to support services instead. There has been a huge saving in resources and the person in crisis gets the specific help they need from trained professionals who put a care plan in place which over time has proven to truly benefit them.” Police officer Adam Fraser, who is Mental Health Liaison and Investigations Officer, coordinates the scheme for Merseyside Police. He says the triage car has revolutionised the police’s involvement with mental health. “Before triage there was some research undertaken by Merseyside Police which found that an average mental health call

would take us about six hours to deal with. When we go into people’s houses we have very few powers to actually do anything to help them so trying to organise an assessment of a person’s needs, and a mental health professional out to help them was a very lengthy process.” Before Triage, just 25 per cent of people detained under the Mental Health Act went on to be admitted to hospital and another 25 per cent would receive a GP referral. Now 80 per cent of referrals result in an appropriate care package being put in place.

We help all sorts of people with problems. What’s more, the number of 136 detentions has been reduced by 40 per cent. Adam says: ”When you speak to the officers on the frontline, they love the triage car and say they should be available 24 hours a day. In the past they had three options of how to deal with people with mental health issues, take them to A&E which was not always the best option, try to persuade them to go voluntarily, or, as a last resort, do nothing. My colleagues would have found it extremely difficult to walk away, but they were often stuck between a rock and a hard place. And that’s why they’re so enthusiastic about the Triage Car Scheme.”



At 20, Alex’s chaotic life was spiralling seriously out of control and she regularly contemplated suicide.


ith a history of self-harm since the age of nine, she was abused in a relationship and took many overdoses which damaged her liver and caused her to be hospitalised. Living in supported accommodation she started to run away every night, sometimes twice a night. One day she notched up four escapes. She’d visit dangerous places – a flyover or the River Mersey – late at night. Passers by would get anxious and call the police. The police would find her, take her back home or aim to protect her under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act which can

be used when someone needs care or control whether at home, in a hospital or a police station. Each time Alex would cope for a couple of days, then the behaviour would start up again. One time she ended up on a drip in hospital, another in Broadoak mental health unit in Liverpool. But on one particular night the Street Car Triage team with a psychiatric nurse came to Alex’s rescue after a self-harming incident at her accommodation. It made all the difference having a mental health professional in attendance. “When the police came they knew about my care plan,” she says. “They waited till I calmed down and left. That was a good thing. They didn’t have to arrest me or sit with me in hospital or the police station all night, they could go and do another job. It’s helped me to understand what I did, to know that there needs to be boundaries.

Police officers on the frontline love the scheme.

“It’s about taking responsibility for yourself and knowing that there are people out there who can help you, you don’t have to rely on the police.” The police no longer have any need to get involved with Alex. “I’m really good now,” she says. “I’m even thinking of becoming a support worker. I know what it’s like when you’re at your lowest you think no-one cares, but there is always someone who cares… always.” Watch Alex’s story on Mersey Care’s YouTube channel. Search Mersey Care triage car.


FEATURE Have you ever talked to yourself in your head or aloud? Or thought you heard someone speak when you’re actually alone? It seems we all have an internal voice but for most of us it’s a mechanism for thinking things through and making decisions.


ome research suggests that ‘hearing voices is very common’. According to one study, 55 per cent of the ‘normal’ population hear voices at some time in their lives. Famous voice hearers include Anthony Hopkins, Zoe Wannamaker, Gandhi and Winston Churchill. For some people though, the voices can be intimidating, frightening and consuming. They can direct someone to take actions against their better judgement – with harmful consequences.

WHY DO PEOPLE HEAR VOICES? Clinical psychologist Dr Kev Harding says all of us debate with ourselves at times, for example when we have a decision to make. “When we have a choice to make your head might say one thing, your heart might say another so that’s two strands of thought in conflict. But if your confidence and self esteem is low, maybe because of traumatic life events, your thoughts about yourself, particularly negative thoughts, might take the form of other voices, either in your head or out loud. We might feel the voices are ‘right’. “If you’ve suffered abuse at some point, especially as a child, the realities are sometimes too painful to acknowledge, but they’re always there in the background. It’s like having a dog that barks constantly – you can put it outside but you can still hear it bark at times. Sometimes voices represent painful memories that we’d rather not think about but need to deal with.” Conventional psychiatry has traditionally viewed hearing voices


as a symptom of a mental illness and treatment often focuses on medication to remove them. Another more recent approach is to acknowledge the voices as part of someone’s life - and help the person understand and normalise their experiences. Personal Construct Psychology suggests that how we see things are always our best guess based on our experiences and are not necessarily accurate. Dr Harding: “We all have ‘bad’ thoughts at times, we just don’t consider acting on them when were confident in our own values. But if you feel bad about yourself and the voices are strong and forceful then you may feel they’re right, you don’t have a choice – and so behave ‘out of character.” “Voices are often a big part of a person’s life and some of them are a source of support. They’re only a problem if they start telling you to do things you don’t want to do, and you feel powerless to resist them.

Treading carefully is key - the voices might be a constant part of that person’s life, helping them to make decisions and even reassuring them. The prospect of not having that can be equally disconcerting. Dr Harding says it’s about building the confidence to choose your relationship with the voices. And doing that can be difficult and painful. “The voices may be strong saying ‘don’t listen to him’ when I’m talking to someone – but with a more confident sense of yourself and your values then you can see this message as advice to either accept or reject. “If the voices are overbearing I might suggest ‘don’t argue with them, be polite but let them know you’ve decided not to take their advice on this occasion and stick to your plan’. It’s what you might do if another person in your life was telling you what you ‘should’ do. It can be challenging and at times you might not feel up to it - but aren’t we all more sure of ourselves on some days than others?”



“Different ideas can be suggested to give someone control over how they deal with their voices. One man used a political analogy of a Cabinet where he was the prime minister and the voices were his ministers. Although they had a say, the overall decision making lay with him.

Some people have amazed me at how quickly they find more helpful ways to live with their voices, but it can take longer – they’ve got so used to feeling powerless and bad about themselves. Change is always difficult and often takes time.

Another client used a football team metaphor where he was the manager and he had to select players. He had to find the discipline to make the choices, risk disappointing some but happy that he was making the decisions.”

DO PEOPLE STILL NEED OTHER TYPES OF HELP? It’s not an either or situation. Some find medical help useful – but often people say to me ‘I wish I’d known this years ago. “

The prospect of not having the voices can be equally disconcerting... Dr Kev Harding




The difference now is that my voice is stronger.


FRIENDS GOT NASTY Raichael tells Jackie Rankin what it’s like to hear voices. 12

I was a sad child. Every kid has imaginary friends but mine began to be nasty. It’s always been the same three voices - two men and a woman.” She chuckles when she describes them. “One is like a cheesy bad guy from one of those low budget films.” But then she becomes distracted. When I ask if she’s ok she says she’s fine, “They’re telling me not to talk about them with you but it’s ok…” Raichael got help from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and later adult services. But by 18, after years of different treatments she’d shut down - life had become too hard. She tried on several occasions to take her own life and her frustrations were vented on her family, which she regrets. “I was stand offish, difficult to get close to. I think I was just so angry; I just wanted a normal life. I even resented my mum for having a happy mind.” At 20, in a relationship and pregnant with her daughter, now four, she was finding it harder to resist the increasingly strong and abusive tone of the voices.

She spent time as an inpatient and the relationship with her daughter’s father broke down. She was highly sceptical when referred to psychotherapy services. “I thought ‘no-one has helped me why should it happen now’? But listening and watching videos of people who’d used Personal Construct therapy Raichael felt this time may be different. “It wasn’t about trying to get rid of the voices, more that I accept them but learn to raise my own voice – to say ‘thanks for your concern but I’ll do this my own way’. As I watched and listened I thought, ‘this is what I need to do. This is me’. “I forced myself to just open up about my life, about the terrifying thoughts that had been trapped in my head for so long. Afterwards I felt a sense of trust. “It’s been like being a prisoner in your mind, constantly fighting a battle. Now I’m out of prison, free and more confident. The voices are still there watching and waiting – but they’re slowly getting quieter. The difference now is that my voice is stronger.”

WHAT CAN FRIENDS AND FAMILY DO TO HELP? • Accept the voice hearer’s experience of the voices. This acceptance may make a crucial contribution to promoting self-esteem • Respect how the person describes and accounts for their experiences • Help them remember their voices aren’t the last word. This may involve helping to differentiate between the views of different voices and their own values • Encourage them to meet other people with similar experiences and to read about hearing voices, in order to help overcome isolation and taboo. The Hearing Voices network offers lots of advice and opportunities to share experiences with other people:

WILL YOU HELP US? Mersey Care took part in a University of Sussex’s study to find new ways of measuring the impact of voices on the person hearing them, and the impact of developing therapies, so we can constantly improve the therapies we offer. This study has ended but our research portfolio is always changing, so if you are interested in hearing about what research we are doing please contact or Research&


FOCUS ON DIABETES At the age of 20, Natalie Balmain was diagnosed with Type1 diabetes. She had a raging thirst and her weight had plummeted to six stones, causing her parents to worry she had anorexia.


he ignored the symptoms for a while because she was in her final year of an English degree at uni, but she couldn’t deny she was poorly forever. The eventual diagnosis resulted in a terrifying nervous breakdown and sent her into a spiral of depression which lasted five years. But that was 11 years ago and today Natalie, 31, who lives in Manchester’s trendy Castlefield, has learned to cope with her illness. She runs, enjoys a healthy diet with moderate alcohol intake, and leads a full and interesting life like any young woman her age. And although she lives alone - which can be a concern for people with diabetes in the event of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), particularly at night - her continuous glucose monitor is linked to her mobile and sounds an alarm to wake her up. It also calls her dad who lives 130 miles away.

Frustrated with having to “half undress” or inject through a hole in the seam of her jeans. But not one to dwell on negatives, the NHS Senior Comms Manager has reinvented herself as a fashion designer creating stylish clothes for people with diabetes featuring conveniently-placed zips, panels and secret pockets for anyone who has to carry an insulin pump or administer injections.

Natalie Balmain has designed a clothing collection for women with Type 1 diabetes.


Natalie has to inject up to 10 times a day and was frustrated with having to “half undress” or inject through a hole in the seam of her jeans. So, she decided to design her own collection ease the burden for women who need to inject as part of their managing the condition.

Type 1 Clothing is her first twelve-piece collection featuring classic wardrobe staples such as loungewear, high waist jeans, pencil skirts and glamorous dresses and jumpsuits for the evening. She plans to do a junior denim collection next.

I think people underestimate the power that fashion has on people’s emotional wellbeing. Launched last year, the collection attracted the attention of the BBC who filmed a short docuvid which attracted over three million viewings. As a result Barack Obama started to follow her on Twitter and Chelsea Clinton, who is an ambassador for diabetes, spread the word to her 1.72 million followers. Natalie was knocked out by the response …and the orders from as far afield as the US and New Zealand. She says: “When I was diagnosed I was blind-sided and had to take antidepressants for five years. It really got me thinking how I could make something good out of a bad situation. I think people underestimate the power that fashion has on people’s emotional wellbeing. I just wanted to make something that made people feel good.” And Natalie’s own feelings of wellbeing have been nurtured by the online support she receives from other Type 1s. “I always struggled to make friends as a child because I didn’t follow the curve,” she says. “But I’m suddenly part of a community of friends who understand and support me and it feels fantastic to have such a global network of people to talk to. I call them my Type 1 family.” Now all Natalie needs to do is introduce her collection to a fashion-conscious fellow Type 1 diabetic - Prime Minister Theresa May. INTERVIEW BY DIANE COOKE

Check out Natalie’s designs at

FOCUS ON DIABETES THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night • Being really thirsty • Feeling more tired than usual • Losing weight without trying to • Genital itching or thrush



• Cuts and wounds take longer to heal • Blurred vision.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU IGNORE THE SIGNS OF DIABETES? It’s hard to ignore the signs of Type 1 diabetes because symptoms can often appear quite quickly. But leaving it untreated can lead to serious health problems. Although the majority of people with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in childhood and early adulthood, the symptoms are the same at any age. Adults with Type 1 diabetes may not experience symptoms as quickly as children, which could mean their diagnosis and treatment may be delayed. Type 2 diabetes can be easier to miss as it develops more slowly, especially in the early stages when it can be harder to spot the symptoms. But untreated diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Being diagnosed early and controlling your blood sugar levels can help prevent these complications. Diabetes UK has a wealth of information on both types of diabetes. Go to: You can also find out more at NHS Choices:





Jackie Rankin talks frankly about her own experiences of diabetes and takes advice from the specialist team changing people’s lives through knowledge.


iabetes – it’s the new talked about health issue, probably because there’s been a massive increase. If nothing changes, more than five million people will have diabetes in the UK by 2025*.

Even more alarming is that where over a decade ago, Type 2 diabetes came with middle age it’s now being seen among in people in their 20s and 30s. My lovely dad developed Type 2 in his late 50s. I watched over years as poor management led to complications. I vowed that, aside from the one thing we can’t control, our genes, I would do everything I could to prevent history repeating itself.

I BECAME COMPLACENT A hectic lifestyle - work, three kids, a lifetime of snacking on the hoof and blood tests that always showed my glucose tolerance levels to be within normal parameters, led to complacency – until now. I changed GP, went for a routine blood test… and was told I had borderline diabetes.


* source Diabetes UK –


It can be due to lifestyle, but there is also some evidence that long term stress can play a part.

‘It’s reversible, you can change this’, the practice nurse reassured me. But I was floored, it brought back memories of my dad’s experiences – like the time he couldn’t have his cataracts removed because he’d eaten a jam tart at 2am and by his pre-op check his glucose levels were 23. (Normal range is 4 to 7). I went home, blamed myself, wallowed for a while then decided I was going to do my best to sort it – for my dad.

Mersey Care Diabetes Nurse Educator, Trish Noble (pictured above and top right) says my situation isn’t uncommon, neither is my reaction. “People sometimes think it’s their own fault. But in the same way some people have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, there are different reasons why someone may develop the condition. “It can be due to lifestyle, but there is also some evidence that long term stress can play a part. Storing weight round your middle is also a risk factor.” Trish is visibly passionate about the subject but agrees it’s complex and difficult for most of us to get our heads around. That’s why the community diabetes team in Sefton runs short courses to help people in my position, or those newly diagnosed or living with Type 2 diabetes to understand how it occurs and how you can self manage it. “Small steps can make a big difference. During the sessions, we discuss how making small changes in our everyday lifestyle habits can make a big difference.”

To illustrate the point she asks me to fold my arms. I do it as comes naturally. ‘Now fold them the opposite way’ she says with a wry grin. I try but it takes concentration and I’m always tempted to revert back. It’s the same with diabetes. Habits are hard to break. That’s where the course helps. “We’re not looking for a quick fix, we don’t expect people to put on lycra and become an athlete! We understand that if changing habits was really easy we’d all do it. But after a while the change becomes second nature and you can move on to the next one.”

Small steps can make a big difference. Identifying their own changes empowers and motivates people says Trish. “Having an understanding and knowledge of diabetes can put you back in control, so you can live as healthy a life as possible.”




Insulin is produced in the body when we eat foods containing carbohydrate (such as bread, rice, pasta, fruit and sugary foods) and our blood glucose (sugar) levels rise. The insulin transports the glucose from the bloodstream to every part of our body to give us energy. Our bodies are made up of trillions of tiny cells. The insulin acts like a key by unlocking the cell door which enables glucose to enter the cell and be converted into energy.

At 78 Stan Fortune is still bowling them over. Three times a week in competitions means he has to stay fit. Although his Type 2 diabetes is under control Stan was glad of a two day refresher course. “You can always learn something and you have to help yourself. I understand things I didn’t before, like which

foods to eat. I find it hard to lose weight so it really helped me – you’ve got to be interested in your body to live an active life. I want to keep doing what I do so I’d tell anyone to go - I’m glad I did.”

WHERE TO GET HELP Your GP or practice nurse can help you join a course in your area. Two courses run in Sefton: Diabetes and You for people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and Diabetes and More for people who have had the condition for six months or more. Ask your GP or practice nurse or call the Diabetes Education team directly on 0151 475 4285.




THINK OF ME? It’s hard to believe that a Hollywood superstar like Johnny Depp or former teen idol Donny Osmond could suffer from social anxiety.


ut this crippling condition devastates lives regardless of sex or status. Robin Peters, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist with Talk Liverpool talking therapies service says it’s common among people in the public eye. “Social anxiety is a fear of negative evaluation from other people – will I make a fool of myself? What will they think of me? They react to that perceived threat and become anxious.” Depp self-medicated with alcohol. Osmond described the feeling saying “Once the fear of embarrassing myself grabbed me, I couldn’t get loose. It was as if a bizarre and terrifying unreality had replaced everything that was familiar and safe. I felt powerless to think or reason my way out of the panic.” Social anxiety affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships, work and school life. People worry about a diverse range of issues from blushing, dropping or spilling things through to talking to strangers in everyday situations. Psychological symptoms include difficulty speaking to other people, worrying about doing something embarrassing, appearing incompetent. Sufferers report feeling sick, blushing, sweating, shaking or panic attacks.


Coping strategies include avoiding eye contact, using safety mechanisms such as making excuses to leave early – or avoiding social situations altogether.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN? Robin Peters: “It relates to how we view ourselves. It’s quite often related to events in our lives, so if someone’s been bullied as a child or isolated or singled out at work they can perceive social situations as a threat and

become anxious. Their perception is that ‘this will be terrible. I’ll say or do something stupid then people will judge me’. So they avoid putting themselves in the situation. But the reality is rarely that bad.

THINGS YOU CAN TRY HOW CAN THERAPY HELP? “We help someone become aware of the cycle and explain that avoiding social contact or planning escape methods can actually reinforce the feelings of anxiety. We talk about what it is they fear and support them to gradually expose themselves to those situations so they have the chance to realise the worst won’t happen or the consequences won’t be catastrophic.”

Social anxiety affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships work and school life.

“We also support people to challenge their beliefs that they will automatically say something embarrassing in a social situation by helping them think of times when they hadn’t or when someone else had and it hadn’t led to any negative repercussions.”

WHAT DO PEOPLE FEAR? “Social interactions at supermarkets are a big issue for some people. I’d discourage the use of self-service machines as there is little social interaction involved in this situation and this could be classed as a “safety behaviour” that might be maintaining their fearful assumptions about social interaction. Instead I’d encourage them to engage in small social interactions with a cashier or shop assistant - maybe asking for help finding a product. “Sometimes people worry about sweating when they’re anxious and always wear dark clothing to hide the patches. It’s a safety behaviour. In CBT we would encourage them to drop this behaviour, so they can find out that often people won’t notice, or that the consequences of sweat patches are not as bad as they fear. “When negative predictions don’t come true confidence starts to grow. It’s challenging but it’s all about being the best that you can be.”

Actor Johnny Depp (above left) and teen idol Donny Osmond (left) both battled with social anxiety.

• Help yourself – our self help guide on social anxiety can be read online, downloaded or watched as a video.

• Think about what goes through your mind and how you behave in certain social situations to help you get a clearer idea of the problems you want to tackle • Replace your unrealistic beliefs with more rational ones – if you feel a social situation went badly, ask yourself if you’re assuming the worst • Don’t think too much about how others see you – pay attention to other people instead and remember that your anxiety symptoms aren’t as obvious as you think • Do activities you would normally avoid – start with small targets and work towards more feared activities • It’s a good idea to see your GP if you think you have social anxiety, especially if it’s having a big impact on your life.


ANXIETY SURVIVAL GUIDE Aaron or @technicallyron to his thousands of Twitter followers is the author of the hilarious anxiety survival guide, “How To Survive The End Of The World”. Here’s a typical Aaron Gillies scenario. He’s on a busy underground train, reading a book about social anxiety and on his way to get a prescription of Citalopram, to relieve panic attacks, when he starts to have one. Irony and humour are all part of his “laughing in the face” of the condition that causes him to bite his fingers – not his nails – his actual fingers until they bleed. You feel his pain but the book still entertains. Published by Two Roads, £14.99.






THERE’S HELP” Francesca spent years fearing what people thought of her before finally seeking help.


rancesca McMahon can trace the start of her social anxiety back to primary school when her friends, in a typical Mean Girls stunt, turned their backs on her for no apparent reason.

A conflict with a roommate finally forced Francesca to seek help. She contacted Talk Liverpool, a free NHS service offering psychological therapies to adults feeling depressed or anxious.

The 22 year old publishing intern had been a bubbly and carefree child, but the experience made her doubt herself and set her up for a host of similar experiences and bad relationships.

The therapy showed her how to look at her life differently and learn how to take control of her symptoms and her reactions in a conflict situation.

At secondary school she was bullied by adversaries for anything they could see would get to her. It took away every shred of confidence or self esteem. At 16, she came out as gay and the onslaught started. She’d tried to hide her sexuality for a couple of years, dating boys, so as not to give the bullies another chance to break her. As a university student she scored high in tests for depression and anxiety. Francesca’s anxiety affected personal relationships. “I’d had so many relationships where I was coerced into doing things I didn’t want to do that when I eventually found a loving relationship I found it difficult to communicate. When it ended I isolated myself, I had panic attacks and got sick. I just couldn’t speak to people. So I focused on my work and blocked everything else out.”

“After the therapy I had the courage and confidence to speak up to defend myself or tell the people who were hurting me how they were making me feel. When my roommate apologised I felt as though I’d accomplished something incredible. “I confronted an ex who had broken up with me without saying why. I’d been dwelling on it and blaming myself for a long time. Having the courage to ask her was a breakthrough.” Francesca knows the battle is not over yet and probably won’t be for some time, but now she has a good network of friends - and her mum, a nurse, is on hand to help her through. “It’s a constant battle. You climb one wall and there’s another the other side. But it’s good to know there’s help out there.” Talk Liverpool is a NHS free talking therapy service for people with a Liverpool GP. Go to

NEED SUPPORT? • Anxiety UK - • Mind and YoungMinds


• Social Anxiety UK – who also have an online forum • Anxiety Alliance • Triumph Over Phobia (TOP UK)

Fiona @fionalikes

BLOGGER... Mental health blogger Fiona Thomas on going on a night out when you have social anxiety. Five hours before - I search the fridge and find an out of date stir fry, which I eat to settle my nerves, secretly hoping that I’ll contract food poisoning rendering me bedridden and unable to party. One hour before - I stand over the toilet bowl feeling nauseous, praying for even a small amount of vomit to present itself, but I know that the dry heaves are entirely anxiety related. Read the full countdown to Fiona’s night out and more at and her tweeting @fionalikes


It’s incredibly gratifying to help people change their lives.


CLINICAL LEAD PSYCHOTHERAPY SERVICE “I’ve just completed an assessment session this morning with someone who doesn’t like the shape of his nose. We established that the origin of his difficulties related to a chaotic childhood which manifests now as a lack of confidence.


e agreed that he would attend analytic group sessions to explore how he feels in relation to others. A little later another man came in for therapy, as he’d become a recluse after his partner died – we’ve worked together and he told me he’s started socialising again with hope for the future. It’s incredibly gratifying to help people change their lives. I had my first viewing this morning of a video we made with people who use our personality disorder service. Watching people who thought they’d never leave

hospital describe the impact of the new services and seeing how far they’ve come was a very moving experience.

therapy myself as part of my development. It helps if you understand how your mind works.

Another role I have is organising the psychotherapy training for psychiatric doctors in training. I enjoy seeing their therapy skills develop and look to share my passion for psychotherapy with others. Traditionally, psychiatric practice has leant towards the medical model, but I strongly believe it’s just as important to know what’s going on in someone’s mind from a psychological perspective. To help with this I’ve had extensive training as a therapist and had

It can be challenging at times, trying to understand someone whose behaviour is so different from your own, but I try to remember that it’s almost always the result of stresses and trauma. I try to hold onto the fact that that person is doing the best they can at this moment. It’s crucial to keep a good work life balance – this year I’m transforming my garden. If I wasn’t a psychiatrist I’d love to be a gardener… it’s all about growing.”


STAY WELL FEEL GREAT Lots of other things affect our mood but we feel content when we’re full.

Dietitians Katie Peers (right) and Michelle Barton (left) and dietetic assistant Leah McGuinness enjoy a healthy picnic


FEEL BETTER? As part of our Focus on Food feature we asked mental health dietitians Katie Peers and Michelle Barton to set the record straight on mood foods. 22

CAN FOOD ACTUALLY AFFECT YOUR MOOD? Michelle: Yes. Lots of other things affect our mood but we feel content when we’re full, excited when our creative juices are flowing. And enthusiastic when we have energy. You need food to feel fuelled to help your brain work and get the creative juices flowing.

DOESN’T EATING SOMETHING SUGARY LIFT YOU? Katie: Yes for a while - but when your glucose levels drop suddenly you can feel tired, lethargic and low mood. To stop blood glucose levels from dipping, have regular meals containing a starchy carbohydrate, preferably high fibre, such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, boiled new potatoes or pulses.

WHAT ABOUT CAFFEINE? Michelle: Caffeine improves the feeling of alertness and counters the effects of fatigue, but there’s evidence too much can cause agitation and irritability. Try to reduce to two or three cups a day or decaffeinated.

THE BEST MOOD FOODS? Katie: Foods high in selenium, like meat, fish and nuts, can help reduce depression – you can put nuts on anything. Oh and eggs! I love eggs - it’s a myth that you should restrict them unless under medical advice they’re really rich in nutrients and so versatile to cook with.

WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE? Michelle: A healthy diet will absolutely help your mental wellbeing, but too much restriction brings on feelings of denial which is negative. It’s much better long term to find an eating plan that includes a balance of what you need but you enjoy. Fill up so you don’t get hungry and reach for fast snacks then go on another guilt trip!

A healthy diet will absolutely help your mental wellbeing.

TIPS • Eat breakfast, porridge, bran flakes or Weetabix all set you up for a good day • Drink plenty of fluids to stop you feeling sluggish at the end of the day • Plan your shopping list around healthy food you like • Have a relapse plan so that if you have a ‘bad’ day you know how to get back on track • Reward yourself for doing well with a non food related treat.

GET HELP If you feel your mental health is affecting your eating or the other way round ask your GP for help. You may be referred to a dietitian for specialist personalised advice. 23



ENOUGH ON MY PLATE Sue Ormesher throws away the diet text books and asks for professional advice.


here was the Atkins, the Five Two diet, South Beach, low carbs, no carbs – diets are so confusing. It’s not only because there are so many to choose from, but much of the advice is also contradictory – and, we’re told, could actually be unhealthy. Add in that I’m coeliac (an allergy to gluten) and meat free into the mix and I’m on a hiding to nothing.

WE LOOK FOR THE NEXT NEW FAD So I decided to ignore the textbooks and seek help from a professional, and found out that in our quest for the next new fad we overcomplicate the message. “Fad diets are like fashion – in one day out the next – they become complicated and can be hard to sustain. And they rarely provide enough of all of the food groups we need to fulfil our nutritional needs,” says dietitian Eleri Hughes. “It’s actually quite simple. If you want to lose weight (one to two pounds a week is an ideal amount for the average person) cut 500 calories a day from your diet.

CUT OUT SOME SNACKS But how? There are a few ways says Eleri – eating smaller portions, cut out a couple of snacks, or increase activity levels. “Weighing out your food helps to give you an idea of how much you should have. People are often surprised at how much they’re eating. Try this with staple foods like cereal, and compare to the recommended serving size. We ask people we support to keep a diary to remind you of what you’ve already eaten.”

WHAT SHOULD MY PLATE LOOK LIKE? “Cook enough to fill half the plate with vegetables. The other two quarters should be lean meat, fish or other protein; and the other wholegrain brown rice, whole wheat pasta or potatoes with skins on. “Try to drink low or no sugar soft drinks – and as alcohol is naturally high in calories drink it in moderation. “Being active will help a lot with weight loss – you don’t have to spend hours at the gym. Walking, gardening, even doing

Diets are like fashion – in one day out the next.

housework all make a difference. In fact any activity above and beyond your normal routine will help you lose weight – and improve circulation, reduce blood pressure and keep your joints supple.” Anyone know where I can dispose of a large selection of diet books?

WHAT’S A PORTION SIZE? • Our self help guide – Food for Thought is available online, by download or you can watch a video:


A portion of cheese is a matchbox size and a portion of rice is three tablespoons. The British Dietetic Association has more:



THAI SALMON KEBABS WITH SWEET CHILLI AND LIME DIP WHAT YOU NEED • 4 tbsp low sugar sweet chilli sauce • juice 1 lime • 4 x 140g/5oz skinless salmon fillet, cut into large chunks • Olive oil, for drizzling • 1 x large red pepper • Skewers (soaked for 30 minutes beforehand)

WHAT TO DO 1. Combine the sweet chilli sauce and lime juice in a bowl. Pour half the mixture into a bowl and keep for serving. Thread the salmon onto 4 skewers alternating with pepper pieces and brush with the remaining chilli sauce. Marinate for 20 mins.

SUMMER’S IN FULL SWING so enjoy this tasty healthy kebab al fresco. Grab a portable barbecue, find a picnic area and head off…healthy eating doesn’t come much easier!”


Recipe courtesy of Mersey Care dietitians Katie Peers and Michelle Barton. See page 22 for their tips on good mood food.


2. Heat the BBQ until very hot and ready to cook on. Shake excess marinade from the kebabs, then drizzle lightly with oil, season and BBQ for 8 mins, turning occasionally until the salmon is opaque and comes away easily from the pan. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

ALTERNATIVES Substitute salmon for chicken/turkey or for vegetarians use cubed tofu pieces.



• • • • • • • • • •

1. Put cous cous into a bowl add the stock, Cover and leave to soak for 10 minutes.

200g cous cous 270mls hot vegetable stock 4 chopped tomatoes Can sweet corn drained ¼ diced cucumber 1 small red onion finely chopped 2tbsp olive oil ½ lemon juice 3 tbsp of chopped parsley Pomegranate seeds

2. Prepare the vegetables and pomegranates in another bowl, add olive oil and lemon juice. 3. Use a fork to fluff up the cous cous then add the vegetable mixture. Add the parsley and toss together.


As most of us relax and enjoy summer a catchy new single and music video is helping remind people of the need to reach out to those in need.


he Zero Suicide Alliance has teamed up with a song writer, musicians and a record producer to put together ‘Talk2Me.’ It’s an instantly singalong tune which promotes their free online training to help people recognise the signs of suicidal thinking and give them confidence to speak to someone in need. ‘Talk2Me’ is written and performed by Zorro Rudasumbwa, a mental health professional who originally came to the UK from Kenya. “I work with people with mental health issues and I realised that whatever the weather people struggle to find someone to talk to.

“That’s bad because the more people don’t open up and have issues locked into their heads and hearts, the more prone they are to depression or anxiety or worse. “I want people to have the confidence to speak to someone they know who maybe having suicidal thoughts; I think talking can 100 per cent save lives.” It’s a view shared by the ZSA – a countrywide collaboration that’s brought together bereaved families, over 90 NHS trusts, charities, politicians and suicide survivors – who are committed to the goal of ensuring suicide is taken seriously. A spokesperson said. “The song is an uplifting way of highlighting the need to talk.”

The song is an uplifting way of highlighting the need to talk. Download Talk2Me free on iTunes now. Watch the Talk2Me video and an interview with Zorro on Mersey Care’s YouTube. Find out how you can take the 20 minute ZSA training on page 32.


Fictional thoughts started coming into my head. I couldn’t work out what was real and what wasn’t.



I WAS A PERFECT LIAR BUT TO ME IT WAS ALL REAL Actor Andrew Sinclair lost touch with reality during a struggle for acceptance. He revealed his harrowing story to his family as a one man show.


came out at 18 and my family totally accepted it, but I hadn’t. I was searching for acceptance for being gay, looking for a paternal figure. I wanted to be a male role model but I didn’t understand masculinity. “After the death of my grandad the man I looked up to, I became lost, always thinking why couldn’t I keep him alive? Fictional thoughts started coming into my head. I couldn’t work out what was real and what wasn’t. I perfected the art of lying – except to me it was the truth. I made up relationships, deceived my friends. Eventually I was found out – this self-created life collapsed in front of me. Friends stopped speaking to me. I was in shock. I wanted to be alive but I couldn’t see a way out of the mess other than to not be here. One night I went to the local railway station and climbed on the bridge. I sat there a while, then something clicked and reality sank in. Talking therapies helped me realise I didn’t need escapism to be a good role model. But I still needed to explain to my family and I was nervous. So I did it the only way I knew how - through performance. I wrote a one man show ‘A Confession from a Compulsive Liar’ and invited my family to the first performance.

It talked about my journey through the jungle of mental health, accepting myself as a man, a gay man, sex, religion, family – everything. I was so nervous but my mum just said ‘why didn’t you tell me before’? I’ve since taken it further afield including to Amsterdam. It gave me the chance to close the door on a difficult time and start again. I’m now working with Elektric Apple Theatre Company for people with a learning disability. We’ve just had the premier of our play ‘Ability’ looking at how disability is socially constructed to keep people inside a box and giving an insight into their lives. They’re an amazing group. We may all have our issues but we know the sky’s the limit…”

I was searching for acceptance for being gay, looking for a paternal figure.

@andrewsinclaira @Elektric_apple


SEEING THE SIGNS Every day 17 people die by suicide in the UK. Yet the signs are not always obvious.

THE FACTS • Middle aged men are


ashion designer Kate Spade, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain both seemed outwardly happy according to family and friends. Even in fiction the tell tale signs are often missed, as with Coronation Street’s cheery lingerie factory boss Aidan Connor who gave treasured possessions away just before taking his life. As in real life family and friends never once suspected what Aidan, played by actor Shayne Ward (above), was about to do. An online traning video launched late last year has already helped nearly 9,000 people how to spot potential suicides and prevent them.


Zero Suicide Alliance an alliance between bereaved families and NHS trusts around the country wants suicide taken seriously. The plan is to encourage one million people to take the practical step of getting clued up. Angela Samata, who presented the BAFTAnominated film “Life After Suicide” wishes she’d had the conversation with her husband Mark, who took his life in 2003. “If I knew then what I know now I’d have asked him if he was considering suicide. I hope that if my sons were ever in that situation the person they chose to speak to would know to ask the question and point them in the right direction.”

The 20 minute training, has three key messages

three times more likely to take their own lives than women • Relationship breakdown is the biggest cause • Suicide among women in their early 20s is at its highest in two decades • The estimated cost of death by suicide of a working age adult is £1.7million.

OTHER USEFUL RESOURCES Zero Suicide Alliance –

SEE identify if there’s a problem.



the words, most people are afraid of voicing the word suicide in case it puts ideas into someone’s head. It doesn’t.

Point the person towards support. Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) Papyrus: Prevention of Young Suicide -

Take the Zero Suicide Alliance training course visit:


Because ONE life lost is ONE too many


Because over the course of a year 6,188* people died by suicide in the UK, that’s nearly 17 people EVERY day. Take the training at source: Samaritans


Because ONE life lost is ONE too many 31




We see more children than ever with stress, anxiety, and worry over schoolwork, depression, self-harm and sleep difficulties.


School holidays are approaching – for most parents the headache is keeping the kids amused.


ut for some children and young people the worry is a child’s welfare – are they happy? Why are they behaving oddly? Is there a problem? During the school term parents can call school for support… but September can feel a long way away. Who can families turn to? Help is at hand… in the form of a school nurse.

The team has a wider role too, playing a vital part in safeguarding and with growing obesity concerns in children, delivering the Healthy Child programme to children as young as five through to 19. Mersey Care school nurse Tracy Hincks says young people see their school nurse as someone they can trust – and that’s crucial.

The ‘nit nurse’ as they were known back in the day, is now a vital link for children and young people in need of more than having their hair checked for lice, standing in line for injections or bandaging for a scraped knee.

“Children and young people are under pressure, it’s important they have someone to turn to. We see more children than ever with stress, anxiety, and worry over schoolwork, depression, self harm and sleep difficulties.

School nurses have more responsibility than ever for a young person’s safety and emotional wellbeing, supporting and signposting young people who need help for drug use, and identifying and helping vulnerable families get support.

“Many of the young people I work with just want to be listened to. If we can help someone early on before an issue escalates, they’ll have a much better chance of flourishing and building resilience as they go through school and beyond.”

Young people see their school nurse as someone they can trust – and that’s crucial.

The team provides weekly drop in sessions and one to one appointments at Liverpool schools for students and parents to discuss concerns. Liz Clarke, Family Engagement Manager at Kings Leadership Academy in Liverpool, sees the value her school nurse brings. “Tracy’s passion and care spills over into the service – students thoroughly enjoy the chance to speak to her privately and seek advice about issues that concern them. Her drop in clinic has become a huge success.” To find out more about the school health team go to

A school nurse's days can be very different one day we can be doing immunisations the next dealing with self harm in a secondary school. Mim Oldershaw, school nurse. 33


GOVERNORS When decisions are being made about our local mental health, learning disabilities, addiction services and physical community health services, how can we make sure we have our say?

One way is through your local NHS Foundation Trust Council of Governors. We asked Beatrice Fraenkel, Chairman of Mersey Care to explain. Our Governors are a group of people who are passionate about their local mental health and community health services and want to use their skills, background or personal experiences to influence the way our services are run.

HOW MANY GOVERNORS DO YOU HAVE AND WHO ARE THEY? We have 24 governors representing three constituencies; service user and carers, staff and public as well as a small number who have been appointed from local stakeholders, for example, Sefton Council. I’m proud of our membership and our governors; they’re all very different, bringing their unique skills and experiences and acting as ambassadors for the Trust. We have four meetings a year and anyone can come along to observe.

HOW MUCH OF A SAY DO THEY HAVE? As well as making sure the Trust is being run properly, Governors are there to promote the work of the Trust and act


as a link with the membership. Governors perform an incredibly important role and undertake a series of formal duties as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They have the final say on major service and other developments. In the last 12 months, the Council of Governors has approved the Trust’s acquisition of Liverpool Community Health, appointed a non-executive director, developed and participated in our Chairman and non-executive directors’ appraisals, consulted on the Trust’s Annual Plan and agreed their membership strategy.

DO THEY DEAL WITH COMPLAINTS? Governors can’t deal with a patient complaint or act as an advocate for an individual; however they can advise our members on the complaints process and signpost someone to advocacy organisations.

HOW MUCH TIME DO THEY HAVE TO GIVE? The Council of Governors will meet a minimum of three times a year and in addition hold a number of members events. There are also opportunities for

Governors to be part of Governor Committees and groups as well as development sessions. The role of a Governor is voluntary but travel expenses will be covered.

HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER OR A GOVERNOR? We are proud of our large, diverse, representative membership. More than 14,000 people have joined the Trust and are helping us build and maintain effective links with the community we serve. This ensures direct involvement of stakeholders in our corporate governance and decision making processes. We will be holding further elections to our Council of Governors this year. To nominate yourself to become a Governor you will need to be a member to receive details of forthcoming elections. The Annual General Meeting is being held at Aintree Racecourse on 25 July where you can speak to our Governors about their experience in this role. If you would like to join us please call the membership team on 0151 471 2303 email to membership@merseycare.nhs. uk or by post to Alison Bacon Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, V7 Building, Kings Business Park, Prescot, Liverpool L34 1PJ.



GOVERNOR... I’m Garrick Prayogg. My family are from Jamaica and I came to Liverpool from London in 1989 with my wife and four children. We set up home in Wallasey. In those days we were the only black family and racial awareness was not like it is today, but we were welcomed.


’ve always campaigned for racial equality and social justice. When Knowsley became the first authority in Merseyside to create a formal post to monitor racial incidents in schools, I was given the role. I’m able to use my own experiences to look where there are barriers and engage communities.

Being involved in different roles – I’ve cut it down a little from an all time high of 15 committees - gives you insight into the issues people face in their daily lives; harassment on the streets, isolation and prejudice. Even within black communities there are many groups who just don’t get on with

each other for various reasons, while some people are just not comfortable in the city. Things have changed but Liverpool is still not a totally inclusive community. We need to understand these people’s make up, to drill down and find out their issues if we are to help them. They may have escaped civil war or seen atrocities, which all impacts on mental health; but we need to know more about them. Simply having Black Minority Ethnic (BME) on a form doesn’t tell us anything – are they West African? East African? Africa is a large continent with 54 countries. There’s a diverse range of cultures religions and languages. I hope being a governor will help me understand more about how the system works, but I’m Jamaican, I can’t truly represent Africa, we need more governors from those communities. Let’s celebrate culture and learn from the diversity within our region.

To learn more about our council of governors, go to

I’ve always campaigned for racial equality and social justice. 35

There are


to the range of opportunities for psychiatrists to develop and influence their field of practice.

Expand your horizons at Mersey Care. Join us in England’s vibrant North West and be part of a clinical team that researches and delivers a virtually unrivalled range of mental health and learning disability services. Our clinicians help to provide the best possible care in high, medium and low secure (including generic and forensic learning disability secure) inpatient settings. They work in services for people with acquired brain injury, eating disorders, specialist personality disorders and

Contact details Got some news you’d like to share? Contact us at the following address.


those who misuse substances. They also work in: perinatal, psychotherapy, older age and general adult services. And founder members of the Zero Suicide Alliance they are working internationally developing new technologies and predictive analytics to assist clinicians with their decision making and risk prioritisation. It’s an exciting time. It’s your chance to expand your horizons and help shape the future of mental health care. Find out more visit: Email:

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, V7 Building, Kings Business Park, Prescot, Merseyside L34 1PJ Telephone: 0151 473 0303 Email:


MC MAGAZINE is published by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and produced by the communications team, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, V7 Building, Kings Business Park, Prescot, Merseyside L34 1PJ T: 0151 473 0303 E: W: MC MAGAZINE is available in other formats on request. Please pass on for others to read and recycle.

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