Finding Meaning through Connection 4 – 5 Oct 2017

View and download the full day and evening programme [PDF 1.7kb], including workshop information, venue details and more…

Compassionate Mental Health – Finding Meaning through Connection is our third gathering designed to inform, inspire and empower people living and working with mental distress.

Once again 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, commissioners, managers, clinicians, GPs, policymakers and Third Sector staff, to discuss what works for people recovering from a mental health crisis. We’ll discuss a range of approaches that move beyond a medical model, with a special focus on Open Dialogue, mindfulness and therapeutic communities.

Building on positive feedback from our event in March, we’ll go deeper into the issues we explore why finding meaning and purpose is so vital for recovery from trauma and mental distress. Our premise is that a mental health crisis must become a meaningful turning point and catalyst for change. The idea that mental illness is for life and will require life long medication is reductionist, and doesn’t give people hope that recovery is possible.

This October the beautiful Fforest in West Wales will be our home for two days, where we’ll create a feeling of community. Let’s leave behind our professional and personal roles and labels so we can move forward together to create positive change.

This is a gathering and unconference, but there are key learning outcomes associated with moving towards a more coproductive, psychosocial approach to thinking about mental health and designing and delivering services. Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of the shifting paradigm of mental health care.

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 and designing mental health services, and those with personal experience
  • Learning 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




Pre-Conference Training Monday 2 and Tues 3 October
Introductory workshop in Emotional CPR with Daniel Fisher, Psychiatrist and Co-founder of the National Empowerment Center

Space on the training is limited to 20 participants.

Find out More>>

A two day certified training in Emotional CPR (eCPR). eCPR is an educational program designed to teach people to assist others through an emotional crisis by three simple steps:

C = Connecting
P = emPowering, and
R = Revitalizing.

Find out More>>

Wednesday 4th October
7.20 – 8.00Optional Qi Gong Claude Acker
8.00 – 9.00Breakfast in the barn for people staying at fforest
9.00 – 9.30Register / Meet & Greet
9.30 – 9.40
Welcome and Setting the Scene

Benna Waites and Malcolm Stern
9.40- 10.10Compassion Pods & Deep Listening Andy Bradley and Malcolm Stern
10.10 – 10.40Heartbeats of Hope: The Empowerment Way to recover your life Daniel Fisher
10.40 – 11.10Pause & Refresh
11.10 – 1.10

Choice of Experiential Workshops

ATelling our StoriesMalcolm Stern
BIntroduction to Emotional CPR Daniel Fisher
CClay & Conversation about Inner FireBeatrice Birch
1.10 – 2.20Eat and Enjoy
2.20 – 2.45Group Gatherings Hosted Conversations facilitated by Malcolm Stern
2.45 – 4.45

Choice of Experiential Workshops

DCompassion Circles – with examples of implementation in Aneurin Bevan University Health BoardAndy Bradley and Benna Waites
EIntroduction to Emotional CPR Daniel Fisher
FClay & Conversation about Inner FireBeatrice Birch
4.45 – 5.15Pause & Refresh
5.15 – 5.45Group gatheringsHosted Conversations facilitated by Malcolm Stern and Andy Bradley
5.45 – 6.00 Close of Day Programme and summing upMalcolm Stern and Benna Waites
6.00 – 7.30Free Time
7.30 – 10.30Evening Feast followed by Stories and Music Storytelling after supper with Elinor Kapp
Thursday 5th October
7.20 – 8.00Optional Qi GongClaude Acker
8.00 – 9.00 Breakfast in the Barn for people staying at fforest
9.00 – 9.10Welcome and Introductions

Sarah Stone and Malcolm Stern
9.10 – 9.50Towards a Wholesome Psychiatry – Exploring the New Story

Daniel Fisher
9.50 – 10.10 Warm Up, Wake Up Claude Acker
10.10 – 10.50Finding Meaning in MadnessRufus May and Elisabeth Svanholmer

10.50 – 11.20Pause & Refresh
11.20 – 1.20

Choice of Experiential Workshops

ACompassionate and Non-violent Communication Rufus May and Elisabeth Svanholmer
BTelling our Stories Malcolm Stern
CCompassion Circles Andy Bradley
1.20 – 2.30Eat & Enjoy
2.30- 3.15Inner Fire: Recovering the Self through Community

Beatrice Birch in conversation
3.15 – 4.15

Compassion Collective: gathering insights from the two days

Malcolm Stern
4.15 – 4.30Close of the day & summing upSarah Stone and Malcolm Stern
4.30 – 5.00Refreshments for the Road
© Copyright - Compassionate Mental Health - Community Interest Company (number 11938822)