Compassionate Approaches to Mental Health – 18 Nov 2016

 View and download the full day and evening programme [PDF 945kb], including workshop information, venue details and more…

Compassionate Approaches to Mental Health is a one day experiential event designed to inform, inspire and empower people living and working with mental distress.

We’ve gathered influential speakers who are passionate about changing the script around mental health, challenging stigma and raising expectations.

Our aim is to bring together people and families with personal experience of mental health issues, frontline staff, managers, clinicians, policymakers and Third Sector staff, to introduce and discuss a range of therapeutic approaches that move beyond a medical model.

Together we’ll explore emerging themes in mental health, including:

  • Compassion, mindfulness and Open Dialogue
  • How to exercise our inner strength to resource ourselves and others
  • Finding meaning in mental distress and psychosis
  • Breakdown as opportunity for breakthrough and growth
  • Enabling the shift towards a more democratic approach, that focuses on the whole person and building resilience
  • Building equity and understanding between people delivering mental health services and those with lived experience
  • How we form authentic relationships, learn to listen deeply, and feel safe to share our difficulties
  • Creating safe healing spaces in our services and communities, for people to talk about suicidal thoughts

Compassion – towards self and others – is a skill that can be learned. Our experienced teachers will guide you in some basic practices, and share their personal stories of mental distress and recovery.

Walk away with 

  • Inspiration about the possibility of recovery from listening to other people’s stories
  • New ways to resource ourselves & others by building resilience and self compassion
  • Confidence to transform difficult emotions and calm our inner critic
  • Lessons in listening deeply and developing presence
  • Understanding the value of finding meaning and purpose in mental health crisis
  • Why compassion, trust and connection is so important for service improvement

Why should you attend? 

We’ll be exchanging ideas, lessons learned and best practices with thought leaders and experts by experience. All involved are already influencing change in their field. There will be pauses during the day for reflection and feedback, and your participation is valued.

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. As one of our Speakers, Elisabeth Svanholmer, says:

My truth is A truth, not THE truth
I share my truth
in the hope that you will find your truth
and share it with me.
Then maybe we can get excited
about the things we have in common
but more importantly
we might learn something
from our differences.
My truth is that there is no truth
just endless possibilities

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



8.30 – 9.00Optional Early arrival and meditation
9.00 – 9.15Register / Meet & Greet
9.15 – 9.20 Welcome and Introductions

Sarah Stone – Director of Samaritans in Wales
9.20 – 9.35Slaying our Dragons with CompassionMalcolm Stern
9.35 – 10.00Journey of Hope and RecoveryJohnny Benjamin
10.00- 10.30Making Friends with Difficult
Mind States
Rufus May and Elisabeth Swanholmer
10.30 – 11.10Group Gatherings Hosted Conversations facilitated by Malcolm Stern followed by opportunity to feedback
11.10 – 11.30 Pause & Refresh
11.30 – 11.45 On being Human Dr Florian Ruths
11.45 – 1.00

Choice of Experiential Workshops

ATelling our StoriesMalcolm Stern
BIntroduction to Compassion Focused Therapy Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland
CIntroduction to Open DialogueChris Salway, Joanne Tudball and Tom Stockmann
DConnecting with the body’s resourcesRufus May and Elisabeth Swanholmer
1.00- 2.00 Eat and Enjoy
2.00 – 2.15A Creative Response to Suicide Elaine Paton
2.15 – 2.30The Science of CompassionDr Charlie Heriot-Maitland
2.30 – 3.45

Choice of Workshops

ETelling Our Stories Malcolm Stern
FIntroduction to Open DialogueChris Salway, Joanne Tudball and Tom Stockmann
GConnecting with the body’s resources
Rufus May and Elisabeth Swanholmer
HIntroduction to Compassion Focused Therapy Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland
IIntroduction to Mindfulness Dr Florian Ruths
3.45 – 4.05Pause & Refresh
4.05 – 4.20Waking up to the reality of living well Nadine Denneth

4.20 – 4.35 Dr Sue Ruben In conversation with Malcolm Stern
4.35 – 4.50Open Dialogue and Case for Compassionate Psychiatry Tom Stockmann, Chris Salway and Joanne Tudman
4.50 – 5.25 Concluding Reflections and Sharings Chaired by Sarah Stone
5.25 – 5.30Goodbye and ThanksSarah Stone – Director of Samaritans in Wales
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