Googling for Compassion by Joanne Parker

I’ve always had my mental health, but sometimes it’s been a bit dodgy.

When my son had a “psychotic” episode for a second time, it was as devastating as the first with a response from psychiatric services that I found brutal and machiavellian. I became very angry, hurt and frightened. Where the hell was the compassion?

One evening in January 2017, I googled compassionate mental health hoping to find hope. The first hit was a conference to be held in March titled Compassionate Mental Health conference. I devoured the website, clicking every link and eventually booked – a decision that has proven to be most healing.

I had already joined a carers group for support which I was finding helpful. At that first conference I came across wonderful compassionate people who did care and worked in the psychiatric system I hated, and through sharing as well as learning new approaches in the workshops and talks, I left wanting to be a catalyst for change.

Gaining Confidence 

As a direct result of attending the conference, when I was later asked to give a talk about my experiences as a carer to the very people who had “cared” for my son, I said yes. The experience of giving that talk was incredibly healing for me. And for the staff. I felt real connection, and saw their desire to be enablers not jailers.

I decided to go to a second Compassionate Mental Health conference in October 2017, which proved as inspiring as the first. Again I felt I wanted to share my experience in the hope of increasing compassion. This time I spoke about at my work about facilitating a Compassion Circle. The Senior management agreed and the circle took place in January 2018 with a positive response. With one teacher saying: “I can’t usually stand this lovey dovey stuff, but that was brilliant.”

Passing on the Baton

As someone who has no real authority in our societal hierarchy, I believe the Compassionate Mental Health Gatherings empowered me to share in the hope that others will take the baton up. I have therefore been a drop of oil to help bring the soothing power of compassion to my part of the world.

I have now come to a third Compassionate Mental Health event, and I’m looking forward to finding out what it will be a catalyst for.

I will be eternally grateful for Google, but far more to this wonderful, healing Gathering.


Our next gathering is a one day event. “From Isolation to Connection” takes place in Kingsley Hall, East London on 24 June. More details and to book here. 

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