This week sees World Mental Health Day – only days after the final closure of Bootham Park Hospital after 240 years of mental health care in York.
Clearly, the landscape of mental health care is changing.
Our view at York mental health peer support group Yor-Peer Support is that viewing mental illness as the result of a disease is outdated. Today there is a better understanding of the social influences on someone’s mental wellbeing.
In July we attended trauma-informed peer support training with Beth Filson, an internationally renowned peer professional from the USA, organised by Tees Esk & Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust.
This approach to peer support is new to the UK. For many, hope comes from meeting others who have made it through similar life-shattering experiences.
When survivors share experiences of recovery it shows that you can recover from trauma.
Community of equalsThe group provides a safe environment that helps those affected to build mutual trusting relationships in a community of equals.
Everyone has a choice and a voice. We learn from one another, we do not fix each other. And while this is a wonderful supplement to psychological therapy, it is not a replacement.
A high proportion of people with mental health difficulties have experienced some form of trauma, including abuse or violence. And there is a strong link between childhood trauma and adult mental distress.
Therefore, we must ensure these vulnerable people are not expected to ‘just get over it’.
Impact of trauma
And there’s another role for trauma survivors. We can work in partnership with services who come into contact with people experiencing mental health difficulties to ensure their staff are skilled in asking about and working with the impact of trauma.
We have been working with the NHS trust’s trauma informed care team to change the landscape in mental health locally from one that asks “What’s wrong with you?” to one which compassionately enquires “What happened to you?”.
This will help services to spot the signs and impact of trauma.
In January Yor-Peer support began working in partnership with York LGBT Forum. We have recently been awarded Big Lottery Funding that will enable us to continue supporting our peers.
About Yor-Peer Support
The group meets from 4pm-6pm on the first and third Tuesday of each month. There is no referral necessary just turn up on the day.
We are pleased to be joining the new Community Wellbeing Hub that will be moving into the new Briar House Resources premises on Merchantgate (opposite Spark:York) at the end of October.
Yor-Peer Support will be at 30 Clarence Street (formerly Sycamore House) from 11am-3pm on Tuesday (October 10) for a World Mental Health Day event.
We will also be holding drop-in information sessions around York, with the first one being held from 10am-noon on Tuesday, October 17 at Tang Hall Community Centre.