Thursday, 20 September 2012

The power of photography

Ian Francis lives in North Powys, and was first diagnosed with clinical depression and later bipolar disorder, about 10 years ago. He writes, "I will not lie to you, it has been a hard journey, with laughter, tears and heart ache - you need to keep a good, sometimes twisted sense of humour."

And then he spent £300 on a digital camera, and started to find out more about the power of photography. Ian takes photographs not just of his family and friends, but the landscape in Powys, and describes his experiences of the impact of photography on his mental health vividly: "I love my photography, it released me from my personal hell and helped me along the way. Having met other people with mental health problems, most also have an Unexpected Gift..."

The full article, along with many more photographs, can be seen in this September's edition of the Powys Mental Health Alliance newsletter, which you can read here. (Pages 10 - 11 for Ian's article, "An Unexpected Gift.")

More recently Ian's photography skills have been called on for recording mental health related events in Powys such as the Making a Difference Together day on 16th May 2012. There is also a report on the event in the magazine (centre pages), featuring Ian's photos. And to top it off, he has images on the front and back covers too!

Let us know if you have an Unexpected Gift of your own...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Coming Off Medications Guide

The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center five years ago, is now available in a revised edition!
The new second edition has expanded Resources, scores of new collaborators and Advisors, new topics, more detail on the reducing and coming off process, and additional ideas for harm reduction and staying on medications.
Thousands of people worldwide have used this Guide to help themselves and people they know become more empowered around medications, including coming off. Even professionals and mental health agency staff have been downloading the free guide, to fill gaps in their own knowledge and give to their clients. Now the Guide in its second edition is even better, incorporating reader feedback and new ideas.
You can download the new version here:
For more information, see the Icarus Project website

Wellbeing Podcasts

All of us have good and bad days.

Sometimes there is no logical reason and it just feels like ‘you got out of the wrong side of bed’. 

Download the free wellbeing and positive thinking podcast which aims to help reduce anxiety, and encourage focus and goal setting, to improve your day.

Access more podcasts on the Mental Health Foundation website.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Young with eating disorders 'missing out on vital help'

Eating disorders in children are not being taken seriously enough, depriving them of vital treatment, a leading expert has told BBC Newsnight.
Professor Bryan Lask said he is seeing ever younger patients, with increasing numbers becoming ill under age 10.
His pioneering research suggests a strong genetic predisposition to anorexia, which experts say needs to be tackled through early intervention.
New figures reveal eating disorders cost the NHS £1.26bn a year in England.
Specialists have reported that cutbacks in health spending are putting pressure on specialist services, with patients becoming sicker while they wait for admission.
BBC Newsnight
To see full story, click here

Human Rights Under Threat in UK

Yesterday I attended the British Institute of Human Rights tour in Cardiff. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about the history of the struggle in the UK to protect our human rights and the present threat to undermine them. The trainers were passionate and engaging, giving an overvew of human rights legislation and examples of abuses. This training is a must for anyone working with children, disabled, sick or elderly people, and those who work in domestic abuse services or with marginalised groups. Plus you get to make a flag that will be tied to Trafalgar Square!

Please see information below from the BIHR website about the campaign to safeguard our human rights.

To Keep your Human Rights, #Act!

Why should voluntary & community groups speak up for the Human Rights Act?

Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights said:
“The Human Rights Act matters for two very important reasons. The reality is that human rights abuses do occur here at home, the recent reminders of the cruelty at Winterbourne View are a stark example. At some point any one of us may need protection and the Human Rights Act is a safety net for us all, whether we need it right now or not.”
“Just as important, this debate is also about who we are. There is a lot of Human Rights Act bashing at the moment, unfortunately often led by some of our politicians and press. We must recognise these attacks on the Human Rights Act for what they are: not simply an assault on the law, but an assault on our country's traditional belief in basic human dignity. A belief in fairness and the importance of us all regardless of our status, our background, our wealth, our age or health.”
“That is why BIHR is joining with individuals and groups up and down the country – now is the time to #Act. The Human Rights Act is a bit like our health, we don't value it until it’s gone. So let's not wait until it’s too late to speak up, let's raise our voices together. To keep our Human Rights, #Act!
For more information about BIHR’s #Act campaign visit

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Work Capability Assessment is harmful to mental health

I recommend this blog by Mental Health Today.

In the latest post Dan Parton talks about the human cost of the Work Capability Assessment, and the need for its reform.

Click here to read the article in full.

Also:  Benefit assessments causing mental health problems - poll

Monday, 10 September 2012

U Can Cope

Here at the Powys Mental Health Information Service we are sometimes contacted by the family and friends of people who are feeling suicidal. We signpost people to relevant organisations such as the Samaritans and the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L.)

However, it is always good to hear about new resources, and I recently found out about a new initiative called U Can Cope. It is a coalition now including more than one hundred UK organisations - from mental health bodies to the Professional Cricketers' Association - formed to spread the message that it is possible to overcome suicidal thoughts and feelings and that there are many resources available to help those who are struggling to cope.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and U Can Cope has released a new film focussing on three people for whom life had become unbearable but who, after seeking help, are now leading happy lives. One of these is Linda Nolan of the singing quintet The Nolan Sisters. The film is available at midnight tonight on the U Can Cope website here. You can also read the blog and more about the U can Cope campaign. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A bit of the BIG blog

My partner Graham works for the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) in Newtown. We've each been watching the other's organisation's blogs lately - there is so much interesting stuff out there, and blogging is proving very useful for sharing it with a wider audience.

Anyway, BIG's blog is called... you guessed it, the BIG Blog, and just recently this post about Kelly Boylin from Flintshire caught my attention. It's titled "Mental illness does not make me a monster." You can read it here.

Kelly is a champion for the Time to Change Wales campaign, the first national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems in Wales. It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. If you scroll down her post you will find a video with more information about the campaign.

So please take a look and help spread the word!