Compassionate Mental Health is part of a growing worldwide movement calling for a more integrative approach to mental health – one that relies less on diagnosis and prescription drugs, and more on empowering the person and engaging their social networks. At the heart of the project is a belief that it is possible to begin to heal oneself and others through the power of community, connection, self care and solidarity.

Our key message remains that a mental health crisis can become a meaningful turning point and catalyst for change. We believe a culture of compassion and collaboration must replace our existing model of over medicalisation, coercion and restraint.

Bessell van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma writes: “Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”

Along with many other critical voices – we are calling for a radical shift in the way we understand mental illness and treatment approaches – changing the script, challenging stigma and raising expectations. This is a gathering and unconference, but there are key learning outcomes associated with service transformation, moving towards a more co-productive, psychosocial approach.

All our speakers and facilitators believe that with the right support recovery can happen. Our next one day gathering is Changing the Script – 11 November in Hereford.

What it isn’t..

This isn’t an anti-psychiatry event, or one that proposes a right way to recovery, self management or service improvement. But – along with many other critical voices – we are calling for a radical shift in the way people understand and approach mental health issues.

Our goal is to be part of the global call for better, safer mental health services for all. We hope to do this by building bridges and growing understanding that people in crisis need more than just medicine. Feeling connected, finding meaning in crisis, and sharing tools for stability are all vital for a whole person approach.

There needs to be better funding for mental health services in all settings, and there will be opportunities during the day to share ideas for the future.  Our hope is that we can all move forward together into a more collaborative, compassionate chapter.

Mental health is everyone’s business

Mental illness is one of the biggest challenges of our age. The Mental Health Foundation says that one in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem in any year, and the economic cost to the UK is estimated at an annual 70 to 100 billion pounds.

The mental health system is struggling to cope with growing demand for services, and by 2020 mental ill health related problems will be second to heart disease as the leading contributor to the global burden of disease . Despite this, public spending is focused almost entirely on crisis, with not enough funding for prevention or resilience building. It’s time to look beyond the one in four statistic, and start thinking about mental distress as something that can happen to us all.

“There’s ‘Them’ and there’s ‘Us’. We are well, happy and safe. They are mentally ill and dangerous. Is this really true? Or is the uncomfortable truth that there’s a continuum, a scale along which we all slide back and forth during our lives. When we separate ourselves we hurt those labelled as sick, ill, even mad, but we also hurt ourselves…” Only Us Campaign 

What people say 

“We all experience problems with our mental health at points in our lives. What we often want most at those times is to be met with a compassionate response. Unfortunately that isn’t always what happens in our mental health services. Conferences like this are badly needed to explore why that is and to inspire change so that our services become places of compassion, comfort and hope in dark times.” Anne Cooke, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

About Compassionate Mental Health

Compassionate Mental Health is a Community Interest Company (number 11938822) working with people across the UK and internationally, who have experienced difficulties with their mental health; their families and support networks; those who work within the field of mental health, and the wider public. We promote compassionate approaches to mental health, and aim to be part of radically changing the conversation around mental illness.

We run a series of gatherings that showcase a range of compassionate approaches to mental health and wellbeing. These provide accessible opportunities for people to have transformational learning experiences, and model an environment of safety and community for people to step back from their lives and recover a sense of purpose and wellness.

We also offer training, communication, publications, influencing and research activities to support people to rediscover meaning in their lives and recover a sense of hope for their future.

Directors: Brigid Bowen, Sir Stephen O’Brien and Dr Sangeet Bhullar (company number 11938822)

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