close up of young woman smiling at another person with their back to us, in countryside setting

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.


Save the dates for our next gathering : “Go Together” that will take place in North Wales, June 27-29 2023

More details coming soon

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