Chris has over 20 years’ experience of working with Scottish mental health organisations. During that time, he has worked in front line services, peer support, service delivery, training, and research. For the last 10 years he has worked with the Mental Health Foundation (UK) as Citizenship and Participation Officer. Areas of interest include stigma, mental health disclosure, recovery, health inequalities, long term conditions and the intersect between emergency services and mental health in distress and crisis.
Past experiences of mental health treatment, accessing services and living with a mental health condition have a big influence on his work. Now over 50, he has personal experiences of other long-term physical health conditions that have impacted on his life, some of which can partly be attributed to the complexities of how we manage physical health conditions while living with an enduring mental health condition.
With social connection at the heart of his wellbeing, outside of work he prioritises family and friends, not taking himself seriously, and looking forward to Christmas “I spent so many Christmases in hospital or crisis, then in recovery, rather than have that time as an unavoidable trigger, I choose to embrace it and reclaim it as my own”.
No health without mental health, no recovery without physical health. Addressing the health inequalities elephant in the room
Almost 70 years now Dr Brock Chisholm, a Canadian psychiatrist and the first Director-General of the World Health Organization famously said that “without mental health there can be no true physical health”.
Good health is a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Globally Mental health services have often seemed underfunded, a Cinderella service compared to other health provisions. But on a positive note over the last 25 years, we have the growth in the promotion of mental health recovery and potentially better outcomes for people as we have moved away from an institutionalised clinical system.
This focus on mental health recovery is good, but what about our physical health who was taking care of that? Experiencing a significant mental health condition at some stage of our lives increases the risks of physical health problems as we age. There are increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, increased risks of cancer, chronic pain the list continues. Why is this the case when people had so much interaction with health services.
There is no health without mental health, but without addressing the physical healthcare inequalities for people accessing mental health services we cannot say we have recovery focussed services.
This workshop explores from a personal, lived experience perspective the impact that a mental health condition can have on our physical health and how this might be a threat to our mental health as we grow older.