Stop, stop, stop turn the problem on its head!

On 12th December we ran a workshop with some internal and external colleagues to consider the impact of a “resilience” mind-set on public service delivery. I’m delighted to share the thoughts of my colleague Liam who was in attendance. Enjoy!

Wow what a great workshop on a rather gloomy December day. It was my first visit to the top floor of Camden’s new town hall and the view alone was a treat, let alone the seasonal snacks on offer in the break-out sessions…

Alex and friends offer a whistle stop tour of fascinating examples of radical relationships and digital networks between people, identifying creative responses to some age old problems.

If you are slightly outside the mainstream how do you make connections? How do you build resources within yourself and your community? An example; if you are older in years, feel isolated, like cooking cakes, meeting up with others, what can you do with this? This is exactly what a group of Hackneyites did and ended up forming the NANA comfort food café. Great! What an example of social capital and ingenuity!

Now for the breakout group I joined, the task was to consider enabling resilience within users of the personality disorder services.

As a warm up we considered the challenges faced by a group of people who:

  • have more than likely experienced the challenges of poor early attachment;
  • are likely to have been very involved within the medical system, this can bring both mental health stigma and demotivation within a judgmental and resource-starved medical system;
  • live day in day out, with a wide variety of medical symptoms including: dissociation, depression, anxiety, mood swings, intrusive thoughts, hearing voices, harm to self and others, neglect of self and others etc…
  • may make unhealthy life choices to help manage their lives or escape the pain of day to day life with more risky ones;
  • are characterised by unemployment, crime, antisocial behaviour, etc.

You get the stigmatising picture.

Stop, stop, stop!

This is the point for me where radical resilience offers the opportunity of turning the problem on its head i.e. re-introducing the concept of a social model for mental health or disability. Wait! The professional approach could be at fault not the individual trying to cope with a life full of experiences; some rich, others challenging.

The starting point as always should be the potential person, the potential community even. Resilience offers, or even demands, a world view where people are a bundle of skills interests and abilities just waiting to be set loose.

The real challenge is, can we reengage ourselves and facilitate life journeys rather than treatments or interventions? “Follow my instructions, take these pills, everything will be better…”

For me this is moving away from a model of one size fits all service delivery (philanthropy even?) to a model of equality; a model where we as people start to realise we need to be ‘accepting’, social beings and spend time together to find solutions to the contemporary social problems we face. The challenge of an ageing population, health and wealth inequality, rampant consumerism and dare I say it global warming. I guess for me this is not even a problem for professionals alone but one for one for us all to start to address locally where we live with our neighbours.

What does this mean and how do we start? Well small steps, one at a time. An example we considered was GPs being visited weekly by ‘patients’ (people who need the contact but not necessarily the professional offer) and the impact this has on already stretched resources. Turn this on its head: enable the ‘patients’ as people or peers to run a tea and cake drop-in for like-minded individuals – turn the GP waiting room (the most anti-social place ever) into place for people to come together. The idea needs some further work, but get the idea?

Anyway enough of my musings about social revolution! Get yourself off to a workshop or get radical out there and empower yourself or someone else today by helping them find their own inner resilience, something that they like, and plant a seed as a critical starting point.

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2 Responses to Stop, stop, stop turn the problem on its head!

  1. chariscroft says:

    Yesterday I thought I came up with a brilliant idea….open cafes or social spaces in GP waiting rooms! Hurrah! Solves lots of problems at once.

    Coming back and re-reading this post today I think I may have stolen the idea (sorry Liam). I guess it goes to show how you can read or hear things and without realising it they’re hiding somewhere in your brain waiting for a moment to emerge. I hope that’s true of lots of these resilience ideas – there are seeds waiting to germinate when the conditions are right…


    • Liam says:

      Ideas are for developing, so I don’t think theft comes into this 😉

      A couple of interesting links, to further advocate for social resilience – if your time is limited look
      at Jaakko Seikkula; Speaking on Finnish Open Dialogue, Social Networks, and Recovery from Psychosis. This is such a moving clip, why aren’t we doing this locally? For me this really challenges the concept of ‘problem patients’ and promotes social response to well being using the most immediate resources available; ‘people speaking’…

      My second is the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) from America , an analysis of 17,000 people undertaking routine health screening (linking childhood trauma to long-term health and social consequences). This for me highlights the scale of the social challenges that we face and still more evidence for anyone still in doubt of the need for building social resilience.


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