Bridge Conference: Holistic Wellbeing Strategies for the Community

About Bridge, Holistic Recovery, Info for Commissioners

Bridge’s 30th anniversary conference was a fantastic success. With excellent keynote speakers and a packed audience, delegates lauded the exciting discussion about best practice in mental health and wellbeing across the country.

Bridge CEO, Raymond Sheehy who hosted the conference said: “We decided to put on the conference to celebrate our anniversary and the fact that we have been doing so much good stuff with so many different people that we thought it was time to get them together. And we were joined by some fantastic presenters – all of them gave us something new and insightful –– it’s great to share knowledge. And also emphasise that there are some solutions and things we can do for people with mental health problems and wellbeing problems.”

Keynote speaker, author and mental health campaigner, Rachel Kelly, gave a great speech to a hushed audience about her personal journey of recovery and key strategies she has found helpful to aid her wellbeing, as well as speaking about the content of her successful books on happiness and good mood food. She said: “The thing I particularly like about Bridge is that it follows my own belief that people need strategies that they can begin to adopt themselves to be on the road to recovery.”

Steven Gilbert, Serious mental illness living experience consultant, West Midland Mental Health, talked eloquently and movingly about his own personal experience of serious mental illness and the support he received to get well and stay well. He said: “Talking about my experience of mental illness is hugely important. We start to break down the walls and that stigma and the damaging role it plays in people’s mental health. It’s just a health condition like anything else and talking about it helps to remove the darkness around it.”

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Assistant Director at the Mental Health Foundation oversees all our applied work across the life course. He talked to the audience about the importance of early intervention in mental health as well as the importance of peer work in people’s recovery. He said: “I think the message around involving people with lived experience and giving them a central point in whatever services we want to design is very important.

“We talk a lot about prevention and in the public health sense of the term I would encourage people to talk about their mental health and get support from their peers, and feel that it is ok to ask for help and that its ok to talk about your mental health. It’s very important and a first step towards a good prevention from illness.”

Peter Beard, documentary film maker, Bedlam, & Kids on the Edge, gave us an insight into the meaningful documentaries he has made on the subject of mental health. He explained:

“I think a lot of the time society would like to not to think about the things that are really challenging in life, especially in relation to mental health. There is a reason it carries a stigma, and that’s because most people don’t want to think about it.

“But the reality we have to, because generally speaking issues regarding mental health, especially with young people, are getting worse, not better, and if we don’t look at it and explore it and listen to what young people have got to say and listen to what their parents and their teachers and everyone else involved, then things won’t get any better.”

Raymond Sheehy CEO of Bridge talked about Bridge’s mental health and wellbeing services and the success they are having at keeping people well in their communities. He concluded: “the most important thing Bridge does is treat people as human beings and not a diagnosis – there are some very practical things you can do to help people. Listening to people and treating them like human beings is very important.”

Things are happening in the mental health system, but progress is very slow. All sorts of services are working in isolation. So what Bridge does is brings them together. So let’s drops our egos, let’s work together and look at someone as a whole person and work together to help them.

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