Mind Over Matter – Increasing Understanding and Acceptance for Mental Health

Hiking boots… check.

3 pairs of very thick socks… check.

Waterproof/windproof/everything-proof jacket… check.

Waterproof/windproof/everything-proof trousers… check.

Highly functional yet slightly embarrassing head-torch… check.

Minibus hire… check.

Kendall mint cake… check.

More Kendall mint cake plus other sugary snacks… hmmm, best get shopping.

First year trainees visit Network for Change

First year trainees visit Network for Change

You may have guessed by now that we are planning a trip.   On the 21st August, a group of first year trainees and their academic tutor will set out to complete the three peaks challenge.  For those of you that haven’t heard of this before, the idea is to climb the three tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours.  Yes, that includes travel time.  The plan is to start off from Ben Nevis in Scotland at about 5pm, finishing the descent by about 10pm, then travel to Scafell Pike in Cumbria, starting the climb in the early hours before racing off to the third mountain, Snowdon in Wales.  If all goes to plan, this will mean that around 25 miles and 10000 feet will have been walked, and the challenge will be successfully completed by 5pm on the 22nd August.

‘Why’, you ask?  On 17th August 2015, members of the British Psychological Society are commencing a 100-mile, 5-day walk from the BPS office in Leicester to the office in London in order to raise awareness regarding current social policies that are contributing to psychological distress (http://walkthetalk2015.org). In line with this, as the participants of Walk the Talk are hanging up their hiking boots, we will be lacing up our boots to begin the 24-hour challenge.

As trainees coming to the end of our first year of training, we wanted to raise public awareness of mental health issues, to help increase understanding and acceptance.  We have become more aware of the political climate and the many associated cuts to public services, and therefore have made links with a local charity, Network for Change, who have been affected by such cuts.

Network for Change is a local organisation specialising in working with adults with more severe, enduring and/or complex mental health problems, including those who may be especially socially isolated and deemed ‘hard to reach’.   Their work aims to build confidence and resilience in their service users, however an area of their service that has been adversely affected by funding cuts in recent years is their Resource Centre, which offers a space for service users to socialise, provide peer support and develop individual skills.

It is hoped that by raising funds for Network for Change, they will be able to further enhance the quality of lives for the individuals they support, and keep vital services running.  From speaking with Gabby Briner, Network for Change’s Chief Executive Officer, we have been told that £5 would help purchase art materials for a creative group or food supplies for a healthy eating cookery course, and £24 would fund an experienced sessional worker to deliver a 2-hour coping strategies group.

To that end, we have set ourselves a target to raise £1000 for the charity, and efforts to meet this have begun in earnest!

We have developed an online page to generate sponsorship money (www.gofundme.com/3PeaksMentalHealth) and within a week we have raised £200, a fifth of our target.  We have approximately a month left to go to the challenge starts, so we still have quite a way to go!  This seems like fantastic progress so far and has given us motivation to continue putting in the effort to both fundraising and fitness training.  A Facebook group has been set up to provide information about the cause, to inform people about who we are, and to link people to our online donation page.  A Twitter page has also been set up and efforts are underway to expand the social network of people who are aware of our challenge, and to encourage any donations.  So far, this has led to a ‘retweet’ and encouragement from the one and only ‘Mr Motivator’ and an upcoming meeting with Jon Ashworth, the local MP for Leicester South!  Needless to say, we are extremely excited by this and this has given us yet further encouragement to continue our fundraising efforts.

Already, this challenge has encouraged us to come together as a cohort, building our own resilience and confidence in the process.  Our team name is ‘Mind over Matter’, and we are pretty sure that this will become our mantra as we encounter various barriers in the form of sleep deprivation, blisters, and, most likely, adverse weather conditions on our challenge.

As preparations for our trip continue, we will be posting updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages, which you can find at https://facebook.com/groups/296674990456778 and https://twitter.com/Mounds4MentalH . We hope that you will follow us on our journey!

Kerry Cope & Rebecca Piper, on behalf of the 2014 Leicester DClinPsy Cohort.

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