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Groundbreaking NHS recommendations pave the way for a mental health revolution

By Yousif Farah

Image courtesy of

Mental health patients and charities including The Mental Health Foundation, Mind and Recovery Focus have all welcomed an announcement by NHS England committing them to the biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS in a generation.

The announcement which was made yesterday came in response to a final report carried out by The Mental Health Independent taskforce and chaired by the Chief Executive of Mind Paul Farmer. In the report it is revealed that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in their life time and that the cost of mental ill health to the economy is 105 billion a year.

The taskforce had made few recommendations which have been accepted by the NHS, among the recommendations investing over £1bn a year of additional funding in NHS care by 2020/21 in order to reach one million more people. For a full list of the recommendations please visit NHS England.

Paul Farmer said: “This is a landmark moment for mental health care in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform services and support for people with mental health problems.”

The Mental Health Foundation believes that the latest NHS commitment marks a pivotal moment in the fight for a mentally healthier nation.

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:

“The Mental Health Foundation has been calling for a greater focus on prevention and we are delighted that this is clearly reflected in the report”

This groundbreaking report comes less than a week after the release of a similar independent commission-led report chaired by former chief executive of the NHS Lord Crisp and examining the state of acute psychiatric care in the country.

Lord Crisp concluded that sending patients to receive treatments far-away from their communities and homes was a “potentially dangerous” practice which needs to stop also estimated that every month 500 patients have to travel more than 31 miles and sometimes as far as 100 miles to receive acute treatment in psychiatric wards due to the severe shortage in beds. They recommended an end to the practice by October of next year.

In the report Lord Crisp says:

“It is time to end the difference in standards between mental and physical illness” said Lord Crisp.

“People with severe mental illnesses need to find care just as quickly as people suffering from physical illness - and they shouldn’t have to travel long distances too.”

The commission believes the solution to the problem lies in more investment in home-based treatment and a greater role for patients and carers in the service they use.

Poached Creative works closely with many organisations concerned with mental health patients and their wellbeing providing us with an insight on how pivotal mental wellbeing is to patients, their relatives and the community.

 Lately we have been collaborating with Mental Snapp which is a social enterprise endeavouring to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illnesses through a video app that enables mental health service users to tell their own stories by recording short video updates on their mental health, which become a part of their NHS health record.

We have also trained many people who have experienced mental ill health assisting them with finding employment and stability in their lives.

Our employees, trainees and volunteers have contributed many articles pertinent to mental health to our blog, including blogs describing their own struggle with mental illness.

Getting out more than you put in

Mat interviews Georgina Innes at Dalston Roof Park.

by Mat Amp
I came across Poached Creative when they ran a journalism course with the Pavement Magazine in May 2015. Looking back, I can’t quite believe I came close not to going just because it was going to take me 45 minutes to get there from Brixton. But then, I really didn’t think it was going to be anything like as rewarding as it has been.

The course itself reignited my love for the written word. We covered a hell a lot in a short time, with a couple of genuinely inspiring guest tutors who brought us their experience of storytelling and grassroots journalism.

I loved the atmosphere on that course and, although I’ve spent my life avoiding offices, I really jumped at the chance of volunteering when, after the course, Poached and The Pavement asked me. 

By the time I started, Poached had moved to the Bootstrap building in Hackney. For those of you who have never heard of it (or the Dalston Roof Garden that sits proudly on… well.. the roof) Bootstrap is a fantastic, chilled out maze comprised mainly of social enterprises. It really is an inspiring place to work.

Writing for the Bootstrap blog and Poached Creative clients, I’ve learnt how to structure articles, how to edit copy and above all how to write about things outside of my experience. The relaxed atmosphere suits me and I’m finally starting to get my head around the meaning of the word deadline. 

Some people look at you like you’re a mug when you say you're volunteering. Right now, it would be enough for me to know I’m giving something back, but, and this is the trick with giving I guess, I am getting so much out of it myself: training, working with people and now I’m beginning to get paid for my trouble.

All in all it’s been an extremely rewarding three or four months and without Poached Creative and The Pavement I may just have been another ex-addict with nothing to do.

Stress Awareness Day 2015

By Yousif Farah
Stress Awareness Day aims at tackling psychological distress induced through employment, by highlighting the causes and educating people on how to prevent, cope with and eradicate stress.
Wednesday 4 November is the 15th anniversary of the campaign organised by the International Stress Organization UK, the leading UK professional body for stress management and well-being practitioners.
Stress in the workplace can be triggered by one of many factors, including; excess pressure, high expectations, work-related violence and bullying, lack of support from managers and family or financial problems affecting the employee’s productivity.
It is important to remember that stress is part of everyday life and can be a normal reaction to thoughts, feelings or events. In fact stress can be constructive in helping some people work harder and achieve more. However, Stress which is disproportionate to a person’s coping mechanism is likely to lead to distress. This in turn could result in symptoms of anxiety, depression or even suicidal tendencies.
It can also lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems with sleeping.
A recent report carried out by Health and Safety Executives, the public body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, attributes stress and stress related illnesses to the loss of more than 15 million working days in the UK over the past year. This figure covers 206,000 self-reported cases. However, many employees would prefer not to report their condition in fear of stigma or losing their job.
Even though, Stress is widespread and is not confined to a particular sector social work, teaching and public administration record the highest rates of work-related stress.

At Poached Creative over the years we have had collaborations with many organisations concerned with mental health which makes us the more aware of how pivotal mental wellbeing is to both employers and employees.

Our latest collaboration was with Mental Snapp which is a social enterprise endeavouring to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illnesses through a video app that enables mental health service users to tell their own stories by recording short video updates on their mental health, which become a part of their NHS health record. 

 As well as designing their website, our staff attend their meetings on regular basis, we also contribute to their eloquent blog. Read the blog written by myself to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Week 2015.

There are many ways to tackle work-related stress and a great place to start is the HSE guide to combating stress, or the ISMA guide on how to battle stress.

36 Pounds and 95 pence exhibition - 30 October

Sample of the work exhibited- Red War by Saed (Afghanistan)
By Yousif Farah

36 Pounds and 95 Pence is the first exhibition of The New Art Studio, which uses art as a vehicle for recovery and integration for victims of human cruelty and abuse. It opens on Friday 30 October at the Islington Arts Factory at 6pm.

Raging Calm inspires recovery through its dramatic workshops

John Watts, at the Young Vic
By  Mat Amp

Raging Calm’s second 'Flight' 'workshop as part of the Scorched Earth project, unearthed raw personal and inspiring stories, at the St Mungo's Recovery College, on Sept 9th.

Social Saturday 2015 continues to inspire people to BUY Social!

By Sana Amos

Social Saturday marked another huge success on 10 October, with well over 50 events nationwide showcasing the contribution of over 70,000 social enterprises to the UK.

The momentum of the awareness day campaign received widespread coverage across local and national press, as well as on social media. With high profile twitter support including the Prime Minister and Jamie Oliver it was no surprise that #SocialSaturday2015 was trending across social media platforms.

Enterprises across the UK got in the spirit of Social Saturday by running events to showcase and promote their services to the public and highlight how every day they make a positive social and environmental impact.

One good example that truly demonstrated how social organisations can bring the community together was Divine Chocolate, the award winning chocolatier and social enterprise. They celebrated the day in style by hosting a free fair, that brought London’s social businesses in fashion, food and drinks sector together at the Lexi Cinema, itself a social enterprise.

Speaking of the significance of the day Peter Holbrook CBE and CEO of Social Enterprise UK, said: “Social enterprises are redefining how business gets done. When you buy from them, society profits. Social Saturday is all about celebrating and raising awareness about our growing movement. This year we want to really put social enterprise on the map through a range of events across the country.”

At Poached Creative we are proud to be working with Social Enterprise UK to produce the branding and campaign materials for the Buy Social campaign, that helps to support and promote social enterprises like ourselves across the UK.