Thursday, 1 October 2015

Guest Post - Julie Sheen on service user led conference World Mental Health Day October 10th


With great thanks to Julie Sheen @JulesSheen  for the kind invite to speak at the  service user led conference she is organizing which will be taking place in Chester on World Mental Health Day (10/20/15).

I am very honored to be invited to speak and support Julie at this event.Julie has kindly supported our 'Make A Difference campaign and tour and in fact held a pledge day last year 

you can read more about  that day and read the pledges Julie collected HERE 

Read Julies very personal story and motivation for putting this event together below 


Please see below the event poster and blog from Julie on service user led conference World Mental Health Day October 10th  

Rethink blog

'I would like to explain what has led up to me organising a service user led conference which will be taking place in Chester on World Mental Health Day (10/20/15).

I have always struggled with my mental health and sadly following a crisis when I was admitted as an impatient to a mental health acute ward some years ago I truly was faced with stigma, particularly from my employers. After 26 years working in children's services I was made unemployed as a direct result of my mental health being deemed as 'too risky to work with children'. At that time the only risk I posed was to myself.

As I progressed through my recovery journey I knew I wanted to return to employment and decided I would like to do what I was talked out of doing at 17 years old. This was to be a mental health nurse, I felt that to add to this my recent life experiences would enhance my practice. Wow the stigma and negative attitudes about this decision shocked me to my core. I was constantly told this was unachievable and that I would be considered a danger to others. What part of being extremely depressed and anxious made me dangerous ? is the question I constantly asked.

However hard people made it for me I kept moving forward with my dream. I commenced my training and despite many times facing stigma and continuing to be told I would not achieve it I qualified with a first class honours degree. Also I was named as The Nursing Standard Student Nurse if the year 2015 as alongside my studies I campaigned for improved support for student's mental wellbeing. As a direct result I was invited to no 10 Downing Street and met with the Prime Minister.

I am now a practicing mental health nurse in a profession I am very proud of. I am also a coordinator of two Rethink support groups in Chester which I enjoy immensely, getting a lot back from group members and fellow coordinators. I am convinced that this peer support has helped me maintain my mental health and remain in work.  Our groups are very active in mental health campaigning in order to challenge stigma. We facilitated success events on Time to Talk Day and wanted to build on these. 

I am a patient leader with West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, this role involves me ensuring the service user voice is at the centre of service delivery. As a direct result of the impression I made I was delighted to be asked to lead on their work stream of challenging stigma. I was able to use this role to apply for funding to ensure our Rethink group's wish of putting on a service user led conference became reality. 

I have taken the lead in organising top speakers at the conference, including The Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England, but couldn't have achieved this without the support and encouragement of my peers. We are now excitedly planning what is shaping up to an energising and informative day which will shape the future work in challenging stigma and campaigning for improved services in my local area. I was delighted to discover on 7th July that I was listed on the Health Service Journal's inaugural top 50 patient leaders list in recognition of this work and my work with another peer led local mental health charity (Chester PLUS).'

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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