Trust hosts Mental Health Forum – 28/04/14

Residents of Dudley and Walsall with an interest in mental health came together on Monday 28th April to take part in a new Mental Health Forum.

The forum, organised by the Trust, took place at Insight Carers Café in Brierley Hill, and was attended by service users and carers, statutory bodies, and third sector and community groups.

The focus for the day was the link between physical and mental health, including the importance of monitoring physical health in people with mental health problems, and how physical ill health affects mental health and vice versa.

The forum began with a presenElaine Cambridge and Suky Sandhartation from Elaine Cambridge, Pharmacist at Russells Hall Hospital, and Suky Sandhar, Pharmacist at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, about common physical health problems in psychiatry, the importance of physical health monitoring in mental health patients, and how medications can affect people on a physical level.

Attendees heard how poor mental health is known to be associated with an increased risk of a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Similarly, they heard how poor physical health increases the risk of people developing mental health problems, while good mental health is a known protective factor.

Jamie Annakin, Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor at Dudley Public Health, provided advice on how to manage stress and improve mental wellbeing, and discussed the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Dudley Health Trainers were on hand throughout the event to offer free health checks and to provide advice on how to lead healthy lifestyles.

Forum chair and Trust Non-Executive Director, Gill Cooper, said: “The forum was a great success. The presentations were very informative, and we received very good feedback from attendees. We covered a number of issues, and – most importantly – succeeded in highlighting the importance of looking at both physical and mental health in conjunction.”

Tony Durrell, Dudley resident and forum attendee, said: “The forum was brilliant. The presentation on physical health problems in psychiatry was very educational. It’s a very useful and important event for local people to attend.”

Facts and figures:

  • Depression is associated with 67% increased mortality from cardiovascular disease, 50% increased mortality from cancer, two-fold increased mortality from respiratory disease and three-fold increased mortality from metabolic disease.
  • Depression is three to four times more common in people with chronic physical health problems
  • People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder die an average 25 years earlier than the general population, largely because of physical health problems.

Five Ways to Wellbeing:

  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build social networks.
  • Take notice – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness", and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.