Go Yellow for World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October every year. It’s aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world.

Our goal at CMHS UK is to challenge Mental Health services and try to improve the services which are available.  Awareness is a key factor, and raising awareness amongst young people can only help to de-stigmatise mental illness.

Children soak up information from the world around them. If they are in an environment where they are given negative views about their feelings and about talking about or sharing their worries, they are likely to view people with depression in a negative way. And if these children start to feel overwhelmed by their emotions, they will probably feel ashamed, try to hide what they feel and will not seek help.

But if we encourage an environment where talking about how you feel is acceptable, where asking for help is not considered to be a weakness, these children may still suffer from a mental illness, but they will know how to ask for help and won’t feel ashamed or different or needy.

We need our mental well-being to be equally as important as our physical well-being. 

World Mental Health Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and remove the stigma.

The charity Young Minds have created a toolkit for getting involved. As an internet community we can get involved in the following ways:

  • Wear Something Yellow
  • Hello Yellow Bunting

hello-yellow-kit-individuals-web 6

The full toolkit is available here, complete with downloadable bunting and fundraising ideas.


Happy World Mental Health Day!

My research diary

Days 5 to 9

My last blog ended by saying I was feeling anxious.

It got worse.

I had been being strong and supportive for my family. I don’t know how many other people experience this, but I have the ability to be strong and in control when other people are in trouble. So it could be being a passenger in a car and the driver taking a wrong turn and getting lost. I am mostly able to be calm and supportive and encouraging while everyone else is flapping. In my work life I was able to work for a deadline and get everything done properly and on time. In personal dramas I am able to take control of the situation, whatever it may be. It’s like I thrive on danger and adrenaline and I do things I never knew I could do.

The down side to this is after the “danger” is over. I can go from being strong and decisive one minute to being weak and vulnerable and scared the next.

I think this is what happened a few days ago. I was being strong and capable for my family, then as soon as they were feeling less vulnerable, my vulnerability soared. I know this happens, I have experienced it many times. The result is complete helplessness and fear. For a few days I try to maintain semi normal life, but I struggle. Then I give up and just zone out. My feelings are numb, I feel vacant, I experience heightened sensitivity to sound. I want to hide away and sleep forever. I want everyone to leave me alone but secretly crave help. I isolate.

And then I start coming back to life. In this instance it was a phone call from the health centre telling me I needed to book a routine appointment. The following day I went to see my GP and told her my fears and concerns. She listened, she made a suggestion about the possibility of staying with family until I felt better. I cried.

The next day I was me again. I was (and am) still tired, the experience always takes a lot out of me, but I was functioning and had emotions and wasn’t scared of people any more. My head was full of ideas, I was back in doing mode.

Which brings us to…… Continue reading “My research diary”

My research diary

Days 3 & 4

Day 3 of my research didn’t really happen. I did a couple of hours then found myself struggling.

So Day 4. There is a Foundation Meeting on the 13th September for the Tees, Esk and Wear Foundation Trust. The public are invited to participate. I have decided to find out everything I can about this trust. They produced a Quality report, which is attached below.


“The Trust provides a range of mental health, learning disability and autism services for around two million people across a wide geographical area. Within this area our main towns and cities are: Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Harrogate, Malton, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Redcar, Ripon, Scarborough, Selby, Stockton, Whitby and York and there are numerous smaller seaside and market towns scattered throughout the Trust’s geography.”



“Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust was created in April 2006, following the merger of County Durham and Darlington Priority Services NHS Trust and Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust.

In July 2008 we achieved foundation trust status under the NHS Act 2006. As a foundation trust we are accountable to local people through our Council of Governors and are regulated by Monitor, the health sector regulator.

In June 2011 we took over the contract to provide mental health and learning disability services to the people of Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire. On 1 October 2015 we took over the contract to provide mental health and learning disability services in the Vale of York.

In December 2014 we were awarded the ‘Gold Standard’ by Investors in People (the highest level of accreditation). This is a nationally recognised people management standard which assesses how well organisations manage and develop their staff.

In May 2015 our services were rated as ‘GOOD’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following the Trust-wide inspection of our services in January 2015.

We provide a range of mental health, learning disability and eating disorder services for the people living in County Durham and Darlington, the Tees Valley and most of North Yorkshire.

With over 6,500 staff and an annual operating income of over £300 million we deliver our services by working in partnership with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, a wide range of other providers including voluntary organisations and the private sector, as well as service users, their carers and the public.

TEWV serves patients across a large geographical area. Our main towns and cities are Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Whitby, Harrogate,  Ripon, Vale of York and there are numerous smaller seaside and market towns scattered throughout our patch. We are also in the catchment area for the largest concentration of armed forces personnel in the UK (Catterick Garrison).

Read more about the Trust’s achievements over the past decade in our special commemorative brochure “TEWV – the first ten years”.

We have five operational directorates, one for each of our localities (County Durham and Darlington, Teesside, North Yorkshire, Vale of York) and a separate forensic directorate.

Within each of the three local areas we have four clinical directorates:

  • adult mental health and substance misuse services
  • mental health services for older people
  • children and young people’s services
  • learning disability services

Adult mental health services

We provide mental health services to adults of working age in partnership with social care and a wide range of voluntary and independent services providers for the people of County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire and the Vale of York, including:

  • A wide range of community based assessment and treatment services including primary care, liaison, crisis intervention, assertive outreach, community affective disorders and psychosis teams and eating disorders. The Trust also provides community mental health and deafness services and adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) across Teesside, County Durham and Darlington.
  • Inpatient assessment and treatment services, including acute, intensive care, challenging behaviour, 24 hour nursed care and rehabilitation services
  • Improving access to psychological therapy (IAPT) services (working with partners) in Durham, Darlington and Teesside
  • The region’s specialist eating disorder service (for the North East and North Cumbria)

Older people’s services

We provide mental health services for older people working in partnership with social care and a wide range of voluntary and independent service providers. The services we provide include:

  • Inpatient assessment and treatment services, including acute and challenging behaviour services
  • A wide range of community based services including; mental health teams, acute liaison, care home liaison, day services and memory clinics

Children and young people’s services

This service includes all child and adolescent mental health services and early intervention in psychosis services for the people of County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire.

Services for children with learning disabilities are also provided in County Durham, Darlington and Teesside.

Our hospital at West Lane is also the base for our specialist regional North East and North Cumbria eating disorder inpatient service for children and young people.

Adult learning disabilities

We provide community and inpatient specialist assessment and treatment services to people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, autism, epilepsy and challenging behavior.

Forensic mental health and learning disabilities forensic services

Forensic services are specialist services which treat patients referred to us by the criminal justice system because of mental health or learning disabilities conditions, which have been a factor behind their offending. We provide community, inpatient and rehabilitation forensic services for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

We also provide community forensic services including criminal justice liaison services that work across the whole offending behavior pathway, for example street triage and the mental health services within all seven North East prisons.”

Here is a link to the Trust’s services:

Trust Services


This is not a good day today. I am easily overwhelmed by the amount of information available and my anxiety is rearing its ugly head. So today I will just have to accept that it’s one of those days.

My research diary

Day 2

Unable to focus

This is what I wrote yesterday:


 My plan for tomorrow is to start analysing the data I have. I can ask questions later.

Yesterday my brain was overfull with ideas. Today I am feeling tired and stressed.

But I made a promise, to myself, to my co pilot in this venture, and to the public. So I’m going to write this diary entry and get on with the rest of my day.

I went back to the My NHS site and have downloaded some data so that I can study it and present it in a more exciting way.

Then I found that you can sign up for data feeds, which I have done:


There are 3 other options but I’m just concentrating on the feeds for now.

My next idea was to revisit what I had started yesterday. I decided to start with

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Leeds and York Partnership overview

(This link will take you to the page shown on the image below)

Please don’t try to click on this, it is a screen shot!

I had a quick read of the information in each tab. The Reviews and Ratings page brought back memories of when I was under the care of my local mental health trust. Specifically the feelings of not being listened to or understood, the constant change of staff leading to repeated explanations of your story, and the criticism of crisis team.

But this is something I can work with. I can create a National list of services.

But then I started to get a bit lost and overwhelmed. There were links to the Trust Homepage, and to MindWell, which is “Mental health information for everyone in Leeds”.

I have a tendency to overstretch myself. I was like this when I was working. At work at least I had a structure and deadlines. But I would still work my socks off then wonder why I didn’t want to go to work the following Monday. I’ve lost count of the number of “breakdowns” I had at work over the years. I’m an extreme person, everything or nothing, it’s hard for me to find the middle ground.

For now I’m going to concentrate on one site, the NHS site. But it can wait until tomorrow.

My research diary

Day 1


I have decided to find out what NHS services are currently available. My plan is to go round the country (via the internet) comparing what treatments are available and maybe produce some sort of graph to illustrate my findings.  I’ve chosen Surrey and Yorkshire as my starting points, as that is where the 2 of us behind the project live. I will start with all the County towns, so Guildford and York will be first. This seems to be a good starting point. 

I’ve only just started and already it seems like a mammoth task.

I have found a reporting tool on the NHS Choices site:

Within 25 miles of York
Within 25 miles of Guildford

The first thing that is apparent is that there are only 2 Trusts within 25 miles of York, whereas the Guildford area has 4 (the image shows 2 entries, but there are 4 of 4, they just didn’t all fit on the page).  So what does this mean from a population point of view? Something else to think about…..

This report refers to crisis care in Mental Health Trusts. The columns are:

  1. Bed Occupancy Rate – the proportion of adult acute beds that were occupied by patients. The recommended average occupancy rate is 85%
  2. Proportion of admissions gate-kept by CRHT teams – percentage of inpatient admissions where alternatives to inpatient admission were properly considered beforehand
  3. Help out of hours – whether people in secondary mental health services have access to crisis care outside of office hours and whether this was helpful
  4. Proportion of people on CPA with a crisis plan in place – CPA is Care Plan Approach
  5. Delayed Transfers of care – proportion of bed days occupied by patients whose discharge has been delayed. A delayed discharge is defined in cases where someone is fit to leave hospital but remains for non clinical reasons

There are other subsections in this category, then another category called Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

Ok, so this looks like something I can do. I’m starting to feel as if I have a plan that is achievable. The no data available entries pose a problem, but I’ll work something out.

Population of York (copied from Wikipedia):

From 1996, the term ‘City of York’ describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2011 the urban area had a population of 153,717,[3] while in 2010 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 202,400.[1]

Population of Guildford (Wikipedia):

The town has a population of just over 137,000 and is the seat of the wider Borough of Guildford which had an estimated 146,100 inhabitants in 2015.

As I thought, York is larger/more populous than Guildford. If 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from depression at some time in their lives, shouldn’t each area have equal opportunities to get basic, free NHS support? 

Ok, enough for today. My plan for tomorrow is to start analysing the data I have. I can ask questions later.

My first petition

When I got involved in the campaign to improve mental health treatment, I already had a little experience of starting a petition.

It was a few months ago, I found a petition from a serving police officer who wanted the Government to consider an emergency service specifically for Mental Health:

Closed petition

Consider a Nationalised, funded Mental Health First Response Service.

UK Police Forces and NHS services now spend around 30% of their time responding to Mental Health sufferers who do not receive the best attention or assistance. A MH Service that are the first responders to Suicide risks and Sectioning requests, who can convey MH Patients to the correct facilities.

Working in the Police, it is being increasingly more and more difficult to tackle Crime and deal with Community issues, when every 3 or 4 of 10 incidents we are responding to are for Mental Health patients that require specialised help that we cannot provide.
This is tying up Emergency resourcing that can be better used elsewhere, and would provide MH patients with the best care and help possible.
Sectioning people and attending Suicide Risks would be better dealt by more a appropriate agency

This struck a chord with me. I had recently been feeling very unwell and on the verge of crisis. I had a telephone number for a crisis team attached to my local Mental Health Trust, but I didn’t have a positive opinion of the service based on the one occasion I had tried to use it. I thought this proposal to dial 999 was a good idea and signed the petition.

Then I found myself discussing petitions with friends, spoke about this one for an emergency service, and in the course of the discussion developed the idea a little further. I decided that “consider” was not enough. I wanted it to happen. Looking in to the pros and cons of the idea would be part of the process, surely? A friend’s daughter works for a Lobbying organisation and I was encouraged to start a new petition.

So here it is:

To: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

Mental health emergency service

Mental health emergency service

Create an emergency service to deal exclusively with mental health issues. To be used by members of the public on the 999 number, and to be linked to the other emergency services.

Why is this important?

At the moment I am going through a tough patch with anxiety and depression and I find myself feeling scared. I increasingly feel that I want to go to hospital, but am aware that it is much harder to become an inpatient than it was 20 years ago.
An issue I saw on the Government petition website made me think.
If long term sufferers like me, or their families, phoned 999 they could be put through to a person trained to deal with these issues. They could provide immediate support or intervention or a referral. This would free up the police and ambulance services. If another emergency service needed to be involved, this could be assessed and coordinated.
Equally, one of the other emergency services could contact the mental health team for advice or to require a physical presence by one of the team.

I shared it with my friends, added information backing up why it was needed and emailed some charities in the hope they would support it or comment on the feasibility of the idea.

I have had doubts as to where the money and the extra personnel needed would come from. The emergency services seem to be overstretched as it is.  But if you don’t ask you don’t get!

sign the petition mental-health-emergency-service

So when this new initiative to improve mental health services was first broached, I thought yes, I can help. The difference would be that this time I wouldn’t be on my own, there would be a group of us all striving towards the same goal. People who can offer encouragement, advice, knowledge and ideas.

Which brings us to now. Emails have been sent, a Facebook page has been set up (and has been noticed). This website has been created and has been noticed, not only in the UK but also America, China, Spain and Ireland. We have had lots of encouraging comments about people wanting to help and get involved.

But there is a lot of work still to do. There are probably thousands of petitions out there, all vying for the public’s attention and support.  Somehow we have to make ours stand out.

We are still fine tuning the details of the petition, but will share it here as soon as it is up and running.

As an end note, if anyone knows the person who started the petition that inspired mine, I would love to get in touch.


Get Involved

Please help us to create a case for improving the mental health care we receive in the UK:

  • Visit our Facebook Site https://www.facebook.com/cmhs.uk/
  • Write blogs or articles about your personal experiences with mental health and its treatment. Bear in mind that the content will be public so don’t disclose any personal details. Post them on our Facebook Page and I’ll add them to the “Our Stories Page” on this site.
  • Contact your MP. Contact details can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
  • Find out statistics about your local Mental Health Trust that can be shared publicly to back up our argument for change.
  • Share relevant articles or videos to our Facebook Page to help us convince other people that change is needed
  • Find out how other countries provide for Mental Health care
  • Become an admin for our Facebook site or this website.  There are only 2 of us managing this at the moment and all help will be greatly appreciated
  • Send us suggestions

What are we trying to achieve?

Good question

Mental illness is not always obvious to the observer.  I often said to my mother that if I had a broken leg everybody would be able to see what was wrong with me.

I was 20, depressed, alcoholic and anorexic.  I wanted to die.  But I walked around by day with a huge smile and an infectious giggle. At night I went for long walks. I cried, and I walked, and I cried, until I was exhausted. Only then could I go home and sleep.

I have been hospitalised twice, both times I agreed to it, and I went in on the understanding that I wouldn’t be there for long.

I think I was lucky.  My GP was brilliant.  He did everything he could to help me and to get treatment for me. But it’s not always like that, and anyway, that was over 20 years ago. I have been told (by a psychiatrist) that if I was in crisis now and wanted to check in to hospital, it would have to be the type of crisis that involved me running down the road naked with a meat cleaver. Not my style. I just want help.

There are NHS services out there. They just don’t always meet the needs of the people who use them. For example, a couple of years ago I was being looked after by my local NHS Mental Health Trust. I had a psychiatrist and a Mental Health Nurse assigned to me. I was put on a couple of initiatives to help with anxiety, as I was becoming increasingly reluctant to leave the safety of my own home.

And that’s where, for me, everything started to unravel. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist but didn’t go.  I couldn’t face going out. I didn’t phone to cancel because I was scared of…. something, the reason wasn’t tangible but it felt real.

This happened twice more, appointments were made that I didn’t keep and didn’t cancel. Then I got a letter saying that as I had missed my appointments I was being referred back to my GP.

That was it. No follow-up, no phone call to ask how I was doing and why I didn’t turn up to my appointments.  So now I don’t have medical support.  I get repeat prescriptions from my GP via the internet and only go to see my doctor if I really have to. And then I ask someone I trust to come to the appointment with me and sit in on the consultation.

The statistics say that 1 in 4 people in the UK  suffer from depression at some point in their lives.  It could be a temporary low point in their lives or it could be a constant battle to survive.

Awareness seems to be growing. More people are talking about mental health. There is a lot of help and support out there. Charities, Support Groups, Social Media Groups, TV documentaries. Celebrities either talk or write about their own mental health issues.

So back to my initial question. What are we trying to achieve? Change.

We want NHS Mental Health services to be fit for purpose. We don’t want to have to wait months for a hospital bed if we’re in crisis, if we even qualify for a bed.  We are in crisis now and may not be alive by the time a bed becomes available. We want to be understood and helped.

It is often very difficult to spot the signs. By nature it is a secretive illness.  I don’t know how many years I had been suffering from depression before it was spotted and acknowledged. I lied and covered up what was going on.  I lied as much to myself as I did to others.

Change is going to be a slow process, but I believe our society has made the first few steps by starting to talk openly about it. And I realise there are funding issues and the need for trained staff, I know it won’t be easy or immediate.

I think the real answer is that I want to make a difference.


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