This week has flown by. Wow. I also have to apologise for always writing and writing and writing (I lose myself in the process sometimes, which is why my posts end up as short stories). To make this week’s blog entry a little more endurable, I’m adding some colourful images!
So, what happened at Rethink this week? Again, I spent much of my time perfecting the primary care survey. I am quite amazed at how much time and thought goes into a piece of work that will only take 5 minutes to fill in. I have been rephrasing and slightly altering the order of questions so many times, because it has to be perfect – thousands of Rethink’s followers will (hopefully) see and respond to this survey, and the same applies to the other organisations we are collaborating with. So every question has to be perfectly clear and acceptable, especially considering the delicacy of the issues around mental illness.
The survey will be publicised through Rethink’s and the other organisation’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and (hopefully) circulate through the world of social media. This is exactly what we want, because it means that it will have a wide reach, but at the same time we have to be really careful about the statements we make, and how those could be interpreted. This is where you’ll be able to access my survey on Monday, where almost 90,000 people will see it:
What adds to the level of difficulty is that I personally have somehow managed to avoid Twitter all my life – until now. I am familiar with the Facebook, but generally not a master of social media and technology – which I am using as an excuse for the sobering, plain appearance of my blog. Twitter however eludes me. How am I supposed to explain an issue about which I could write an entire thesis / bestseller book / unusually wordy Charity Insights Blog in 140 characters?! This is madness!
But rest assured – I found the courage to face this new challenge, and although it broke my literature-loving heart to cut down on words here and use abbreviations there, I came up with my first Twitter post! So the survey, which I am starting to develop motherly feelings for after investing so much time in it, will finally enter the big wide world!
Okay, I’ll be serious now, I promise. I also went to another conference yesterday. It was hosted by South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust’s Psychiatry Physical Healthcare Committee (PPHC) under the name Psychiatry Physical Health Conference. As you can tell from the name, unless you were as overwhelmed by it as I was, the conference was about the physical healthcare of people with mental illness.
As I mentioned in my last post, antipsychotic medication often causes severe weight gain, high cholesterol levels, and mental illness is associated with high smoking rates – all of these contribute to an enormous burden of diabetes and heart disease in people affected by mental health problems. This explains, at least partly, why this group of people dies on average up to 20 years earlier.
Everybody agrees that this is an unacceptable state – and yet it is widely accepted at the moment! Many of these patients don’t receive appropriate support to quit smoking, and their cardiovascular risk factor aren’t recognised and treated.
As I explained last week, the new CQUIN gives a financial incentive to do regular physical health checks on mental health patients, and then treat risk factors like high blood pressure (it’s not ideal, but at least effective). Issues like this were discussed at the conference yesterday, with my supervisor here at Rethink giving an introductory talk.
Now I am thrilled to see my survey going online soon, and really excited to get the first responses in! Yay!