Podcast: How far have we come on the road to mental health equality?

31 August 2023

Thea Joshi sits down with Centre for Mental Health chief exec and returning guest, Andy Bell. Having been at the Centre for over 20 years, Andy shares the changes that have been forged in mental health in that time, and the distance we have yet to travel to eradicate persisting inequalities. They discuss how to balance frustration at slow progress with a sense of optimism that allows us to continue the hard work of making mental health equality a reality.

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Listen to the episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. The full transcript is available below.

Show notes

  • Watch our Festival of Ideas event on how mental health services should change, from the perspectives of people who have used services
  • Read our report on poverty and mental health
  • Read our national evaluation of the Better Mental Health Fund
  • Read our report on our vision for mental health, learning disabilities and autism services in 2032 



Alethea Joshi (AJ): Hello and welcome to Centre for Mental Health’s podcast. Centre for Mental Health challenges policies, systems and society so that everyone can have better mental health. I’m Thea Joshi, and in each episode, I speak to people with experience of mental health difficulties, someone working in a specific area, or a member of our team about mental health and social justice. And this month, I sat down with Andy Bell, the Centre’s chief executive, to hear about what motivated him to work in mental health, the changes he’s seen in the nation’s mental health over the past 20 years, and the major challenges he’s seeing in mental health at the moment. And we kept coming back to this question of how we balance the really hard things in this area, with a hope and optimism that things can really progress and get better. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat. I hope you do, too. Welcome to another episode of the podcast and a very warm welcome to my special guest, Andy Bell. Welcome back to the podcast.

Andy Bell (AB): Thank you very much.

AJ: So you are actually a returning guest to the podcast. I did just check and you joined us actually over two years ago, in the spring of 2021, which feels like a very long time ago, in lots of ways.

AB: It was ages ago, can barely remember that time.

AJ: We were really in the midst of Covid still and dealing with all of that in the most intense part of that. And all that that kind of meant for the world and for mental health and for us as an organisation as well. So we’re really happy to have you back on now. And obviously very happy to say that you were actually appointed chief exec this year in March, I’m delighted to say. So I wanted to get you back on the podcast, to hear about the key challenges you feel that we’re facing within mental health and the nation’s mental health, what needs to be done there. And also looking at the Centre’s role in that and our role in the wider mental health sector as well. So no small ask.

AB: Nice and easy.

AJ: Yes. But I guess I just wanted to kick us off, I’m really nosy and interested to know about what led you to work for Centre for Mental Health in the first case, all those years ago.

AB: It is a few years ago now.

AJ: That’s so rude of me!

AB: At the end of 2002.

AJ: 2002!

AB: Don’t think about what you’re doing in 2002. I don’t want to know. So I mean, I worked at the King’s Fund, which was another lovely organisation. And it was just really clear, even then that mental health was one of the big social justice issues of our time. And obviously, the issues then were somewhat different to the ones they are now, not as different as I might like them to be. But there was a real sense that it’s an area where inequality and social justice really do play a huge part in our health and wellbeing. And we all of us have different types of ways in which our lives have been affected by either mental health or more importantly, mental ill health. And it was a great opportunity to come work for an organisation that was at the heart of bringing about big scale change at the time. The Centre was then called Sainsbury’s Centre and it was really involved in supporting the creation of new teams to support people in their communities, and to offer a really different take on what was happening in terms of the social response to mental health. I’m in my second job! So it was an exciting opportunity to to work somewhere else and try something different. And I thought maybe for a couple of years.

AJ: And you know, just a few years later, here we are. No, that’s that’s a really kind of helpful background on just a little bit about you. And I guess which then naturally makes me think, and again, huge question, but what are some of the main things that have changed or the shifts that you’ve seen in that time, because that is quite a long time, we’ve seen a lot of change within mental health even in the last sort of 5/10 years. So are there certain things that stand out for you as really critical things that you’ve seen develop or change in that time.

AB: Thank you. It’s really interesting to reflect isn’t it over a 20 year period. And the one thing that’s notably different is the place of mental health in public and political debate, in actually public life and life as a whole. Mental health and mental ill health have always been there in society, but they were in 2002/3 not talked about, certainly not talked about in helpful and constructive ways. I was recently thinking about popular culture or media portrayals of mental ill health at the time, and people were either portrayed as pitiable or dangerous and there was very little else and mental health literacy was was non-existent. There hadn’t been any major kind of awareness or anti discrimination campaigns in England at that time. And we have, in some ways, come a long way. We have much more conversation about mental health at every level from from the national media to what happens in schools and families and workplaces and communities. And of course, that’s largely very positive. That really has brought about quite a shift. There’s been changes in mental health services as well, of course, some ups and downs, I think it’s fair to say, and of course, some things that haven’t changed as much as we would like. If anything, more people are now detained under the Mental Health Act than they were in 2002. We have many more people in prison than in 2002. And we know about the prevalence of poor mental health among the prison population. We have, you know, very long waiting lists right now for treatment and support. There’s markedly more help out there, there was no such thing as NHS Talking Therapies 20 years ago, or even 15. There was a postcode lottery, if you turned up at your GP, it was just pure luck, whether they had access to a practice counsellor or not. Now, although there are massive problems with access to mental health support, every single part of England has an NHS talking therapy service that meets the needs of some groups of people in a whole different way to what was around before. So again, there are undoubtedly positives. And we’ve had periods of time where government has invested significantly in mental health services, and also times of austerity, when we’ve seen very worrying disinvestment. We’ve seen the mental health workforce go up and down and up again. And we’ve seen kind of greater or lesser awareness of the wider causes of poor mental health. And I think increasingly, we’re now understanding that our mental health isn’t purely about us as people. You know, we can’t sort the nation’s mental health out by encouraging people to just talk to one another, we have to understand the importance of economic inequality, of racism, of homophobia and transphobia and all the other structural causes of distress and difficulty.

AJ: Yeah, and it’s interesting because I think this is a topic that comes up quite often on the podcast around that kind of very fine tightrope between really confronting and facing the kind of really major issues in mental health, and also having space for optimism and looking back at where we’ve come. Not that you should look back on a tightrope, I’m really mixing mixing my metaphors here. But you know, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because as you say, you know, if we look back to 2002, it’s a completely different ballgame in terms of the way that mental health is part of the national discourse and stuff. So we can’t lose that and just say everything is awful and it’s as bad as it was, even though in some ways it is. But equally, we cannot just kind of pat ourselves on the back and say, Oh, well, that’s fine, mental health is sorted now. Like we know it’s not, we know that these issues are just as pressing and just as bad in some ways as they were then if not worse, in some cases. I wanted to pick up on something you mentioned there about huge rises in the number of people being detained under the Mental Health Act over the last sort of 20 years. And I was just really interested in that and what you see as the main sort of causes behind that? Obviously, it is multifaceted but what do you see as the main things driving that rise?

AB: It is a worrying phenomenon, isn’t it? And, again, research has tried to answer those questions. There are two things that stand out, one of which is we did have a set of revisions to the 1983 Mental Health Act in 2007, which increased the scope for the use of compulsion, both in terms of making it easier for someone to be sectioned, but also continuing the use of sectioning when people go home through community treatment orders. There are other changes, actually, at that time that improved people’s safeguards. So a right to advocacy, for example. Nonetheless, that did make it more likely that more people would be brought into the system. And of course, in the years since I think there is a fairly kind of clear indication that erosion of earlier help services, of community based support, of things that will keep people well or prevent relapse, where particularly austerity in local government has peeled away those layers of support, more people are reaching the crisis point where there is no alternative but for the use of compulsory powers. Worryingly, of course, we’ve also seen in that time, that if anything the disproportionate use of coercion towards Black people in particular, but people from from almost all racialised backgrounds, the difference with the white population has if anything increased. So some really worrying signs there that we really do need to have a sense of urgency about trying to tackle.

AJ: Definitely. And I mean, that’s, that’s so sobering, isn’t it and and again, just brings home the need for racial justice and for changing the way that services work. And the way that systems are structured, the whole thing is still in such a vital need of change. Because, you know, this is this is still going on. And if anything, it’s actually worse by the sounds of it.

AB: So one thing that we did last year was mark 20 years since the Breaking the circles of fear report was published, again in 2002. And what was really distressing about that was how little has changed. And, in fact, the findings of that report remain just as true now as they were then, despite some efforts in the interim from government and from the NHS to to address some of the issues. Never for long enough, never with enough resource, never with enough determination to really make a difference. There is of course work happening now, the patient and carer race equality framework that came out of various pieces of work, including the independent review of the Mental Health Act is now beginning to be extended across the whole of the NHS, and indeed other sectors as well. And we really do all have to get behind efforts to ensure that that has the very best chance of working. But we also need to look at the wider economic and social reasons why there are these disparities in the first place. It’s not enough simply to say, Well, is it about wider society? Or is it about mental health services? It’s a stale, tired debate which gets us nowhere. We have to accept that it is both. And we need reform in both in order to tackle the gross injustice that people are still experiencing today.

AJ: Yeah, you’re right. It’s a false divide to say that it’s one or the other. We know that racism is systemic and kind of embedded and inbuilt within all of our systems so it will take that kind of coordinated approach. And I feel like this has really helpfully led us into a wider conversation, we’ve already sort of started having it, around what you see as the major challenges facing people’s mental health at the moment. I mean, we’ve already talked about racism and institutional racism as part of that. But yeah, what do you see as those key challenges?

AB: Yeah, there’s lots to think about isn’t there? And one of the reasons why we’ve been thinking a lot about what would the whole of government response to the nation’s mental health look like is because we can’t just see mental health as being something that exists in isolation from other areas of public policy. And we need to have that properly kind of comprehensive approach. And I think the first place you have to look is around financial inequality and injustice. We know that poverty is massively toxic to people’s mental health, particularly children, but people of all ages. And we know that more unequal societies have higher rates of mental ill health and vice versa more equitable societies see lower rates of mental health problems. And we can see from examples of where change has happened, particularly to boost the incomes of the poorest, that you see significant improvements in mental health, particularly rates of depression, for example. So we really do have to address this, particularly in the context of the cost of living crisis, which has come hot on the heels of the pandemic, and leading into longer-term threats around climate crisis and conflict in the wider world. You know, we really do need to think about mental health in that way, as a product of all of those forces. And therefore, there are solutions that policy makers both in national government, local government, business, civil society can all look at to improve people’s mental health at whatever level from from global discussions at the United Nations through to what happens in neighbourhoods and schools and workplaces.

AJ: Yeah, thank you. That’s obviously like a really key part of our work and something we’ve done quite a bit of work on recently, and I obviously will add some resources to the show notes for more information on that. But I guess it’s an interesting question because it has been such a focus of our work, particularly over the last few years, but you know, going back historically at the Centre. And I wondered, you know, you mentioned the solutions there and that’s a really key part of what we’re doing at the Centre is saying there are solutions to these things. They are hard. These are complex issues, but they are not impossible. They are not, you know, inevitable. Do you find it easy to have hope, to have optimism? I guess, what I’m saying is, I find it quite difficult to have optimism, when you see the way our society is at the moment, when you see the state of our politics, the kind of conversations that are being had, the rhetoric around people on social security, do you see places for hope and optimism within that whole situation and conversation?

AB: Yes, and I think it’s often very difficult to hold hope. But we’ve had to in the past when times have got difficult and we’ll have to again in the future when times get difficult. And I think the thing we learn is that as organisations that seek to prompt and generate and encourage social change, and be part of social change and change ourselves and be prepared to be changed, is that you can actually go a long way by chipping away at things, by not accepting discriminatory narratives, by not allowing pessimism to get in the way of a realistic understanding of how hard things are. And by being prepared to stand up for what you believe in, to be robustly connected to the evidence, it is possible to change people’s minds and bring about political change in terms of policies and ideas, through robust argument, clear communication, and actual honesty, you know. I think the most important social movements around mental health have come from people with lived experience. They haven’t come from organisations, they haven’t come from charities or academics, they’ve come from people talking about their experience, not being prepared to take second-class treatment anymore, not being prepared to be second-class citizens. And that’s where we have to get our hope from. For us as organisations, it’s about supporting and being alongside those movements about sharing the evidence and being really, really clear with people in positions of power, that sometimes they need to hear things they don’t want to hear. And sometimes the public have to hear things they don’t want to hear. But it’s our job, we have the privilege of this position of this organisation, the alliances and partnerships we’re part of, to have a platform and we have to use it well.

AJ: Yeah and it’s really interesting, because we talk sometimes in mental health around this idea of like, toxic positivity. And this sense that we have to just say, everything’s amazing, and I’m gonna like make myself well, and I’m going to be super positive, and this day will be good and how damaging that can actually be. But equally, that there can be hope. And I think there’s some really interesting kind of projections or reflections of that in the work that we do in that just saying, everything’s great now for mental health and actually, everyone is doing really well or everyone can get the help they need or everything’s fantastic is actually not going to help us when we’re looking at mental health, that we need to really take a realistic approach. But equally that we can draw on the experience of so many people who’ve struggled with their own mental health and the resilience they’ve shown and the ability to persevere through that, and that’s where we can draw our hope and say, actually, if people can, again, on an individual basis, if people can manage to persevere and endure through these things, actually, there’s hope for all of us and us as a wider society. Which I appreciate is a little philosophical but that’s where I went.

AB: No, I think that’s right. And it’s our job to persevere in terms of the things we know from the evidence we’ve gathered, and what we hear and see every day, and to be hopeful, but not unrealistic. We have to accept that often things can be quite contradictory, can’t they? You know, we have seen significant investment in mental health services over the last three to four years – really significant investment in the NHS. We’ve seen the workforce increase. We know because the National Audit Office has shared data. But we’ve also seen waiting lists getting longer, people being made to wait being told you’re not unwell enough yet to be treated. And those things don’t necessarily seem like they make sense side by side. But nonetheless, it’s our job both to call out the difficulties, but also to show that things can be different and better and to acknowledge when people working in local government, the voluntary sector, the NHS, you know, all the organisations that are there to support our mental health, that those people are working exceptionally hard in really very, very difficult circumstances, many of them still struggling with the trauma and burnout of the last few years. So we have to give a kind of truthful picture. And that truthful picture has good and bad in it.

AJ: Yeah, and holding that nuance in a world that’s increasingly kind of polarised and fragmented, and particularly on some of the social channels that we’re on, you have to say, it’s actually both and it’s not either or. It’s not just everything is awful, or everything is brilliant, we have to just sit in that uncomfortable grey space holding the tension that, you know, services may be trying really hard, and the people in them are working super hard and equally, some people are not getting the support they need.

AB: But I think it’s so important what you say that understanding those challenges, you know, we know that it’s a really challenging time for people working in mental health services right now. But we also know that some people, particularly in inpatient services, are not getting good enough care. And we know that, you know, sometimes that leads to abuse happening. But for many people, if they’re going to hospital outside their local area, or they’re spending long periods of time in hospital, they’re losing touch with their communities and their families. And we need to address that and understand why that’s happening. And what we can do to provide people with better support. So another big challenge, I think, is how we look at mental health services, actually, and how we support those services to be better. And to build on what’s positive there now, but also accepting they do have to change. Our recent Festival of Ideas events looked at the significant ways in which services have to change. And we know for a lot of people, particularly those from minoritised backgrounds, NHS mental health services, as they stand, don’t provide a safe or relevant option. And that is something that we really do have to address, we really do have to explore how the support we get for our mental health can actually meet people’s needs. You know, why is it that autistic people are told that there isn’t therapy for them because it hasn’t been adapted to meet their needs? You know, people who are told that if they’re misusing alcohol and have depression, that they can’t get help for their depression until they’ve stopped drinking, but their depression is what’s leading them to drink to access. So we have got some really very significant issues with the kind of mental health support that people can get hold of. A lot of that is due to financial constraints, mental health services have been underfunded forever. And I think it’s really interesting looking back at the 75 years of the NHS. When the NHS started, there was really only longstay hospitals. And we’re only now beginning to fill in some of the gaps in terms of what the NHS can do for people’s mental health. And that means we need a fairer share of resources. But for that, we also have to provide much more equitable, much more personalised support for people that actually respects their identity, their culture, their background. And we are a long way from being able to do that. So I think the third big challenge that we’re wrestling with and other people are wrestling with is the fact that for people with mental illness, society still isn’t equal – far from equal, in fact. There’s nothing more shocking than the fact that someone living with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness has a 20 year shorter life expectancy than someone without. But we also know people are treated less well in schools, in the labour market, and in all aspects of life. Much of the more overt explicit discrimination that happened many years ago has thankfully been removed. It used to be impossible, for example, to sit as an MP or be on a jury, if you’d experienced mental illness or been detained under the Mental Health Act. Those have all been swept away. But people are still disadvantaged in multiple ways. And we have a benefit system that of course, is there to provide people with income when they most need it and to be the safety net but it’s not providing the safety net. The terrible experiences people have at the work capability assessment of having benefits taken away because they haven’t done a certain thing, of the two child limit on child benefits for example. There are a number of ways in which our systems still treat people with mental illness poorer than they should. And so I think we and our partners, and many others have a job to do to call out these injustices and to find workable solutions. And a lot of our work is trying to focus on that.

AJ: And as you say, these things are in justices. And for me, just even hearing the kind of challenges that you spoke about there. It perfectly sums up why the Centre’s focus is social justice in mental health, because you don’t actually have to look far, you only have to just glance beneath the sort of mainstream narrative around mental health that is often wholly individualistic to recognise, actually, there’s injustice all over the place, within our society, obviously, but specifically within mental health, there are just massive, gaping, glaring inequalities. And the Centre is just saying, actually, this isn’t okay. And we are going to keep fighting until this changes, because this is absolutely unacceptable.

AB: It’s about persevering and about knowing that it really does take time to make lasting, sustainable change. When we’re involved in a campaign or we campaign for a change that makes a difference in the immediate term we rightly celebrate that. You know, it was a really positive thing when people with a mental illness were prioritised, as they should be, for Covid vaccinations in 2021. And that had to be worked for, it didn’t happen automatically. But we realised that there are many more such things that need to change. The most lasting changes are the ones that take longest to bed in. And yeah, it’s not a quick job.

AJ: No, and as you actually said yourself in a recent blog about planting trees, you know that’s the issue often, isn’t it? Well, that’s one of the issues, that often policy and the kind of policy landscape is very short term. And we have to accept that the most intractable problems are going to take time to fix. And so of course, if we could, we would snap our fingers and these things would change, because people are suffering because of this right now. But equally, it’s being able to have that long-term view and say, we are going to keep fighting, we are going to keep chipping away at this until we see the sustainable lasting change that is needed.

AB: Some of the things that we would most like to see happen won’t bring about immediate benefits. So if we really gave young children and young families better support for their mental health; obviously an example of that would be providing support with parenting, for example, which we’ve been campaigning for, for a very long time; or improving mental health support in schools. In a sense, you’re both preventing things, which means you don’t know that they would have happened or not. But also, the benefits are longer term. If we were to really start to make the changes that are necessary to turn around that 20 year life expectancy gap for people with a mental illness, again, the benefits wouldn’t happen straightaway. It takes a long time to know you’ve made any difference to something like that. So sometimes it’s about doing the things in the short term you know will make a long-term difference. But persuading policymakers, and people with money in their pockets to invest in things where they won’t see a return straightaway, or possibly not even at all, is a real challenge. So yeah, we want to get out there and do some more tree planting.

AJ: And again, I don’t know why but I’m struck with the parallels between what we’re talking about and also mental health and sort of recovery on a more individual basis: that if we’re struggling with our mental health, we’d love for change to happen really, really quickly and yet quite often the solutions are longer term, and they take a lot of work and it can take a long time to see genuine, sustained recovery or change happen. And it’s being able to have that long-term view and say, okay, we’re here for the long haul. You know, that’s how I see it and that’s how I see the Centre as saying we’re here for the long haul. There are no easy answers, but we won’t give up.

AB: Yeah, I think it’s a really interesting observation that so many of the things that apply to us as individuals apply to us as social systems as well. And I don’t think there’s any coincidence in that because social systems are just made up of collectives of people.

AJ: Yeah, exactly, exactly. It strikes me as well, that a lot of what you’ve been talking about is the complexity and structural element to a lot of the things that we are talking about that challenge our mental health, you know, the unequal structures in place. And the fact that we can’t just for instance, say that we better fund mental health services, but we have to look at all of the other parts of people’s lives and the other parts of the services and the support that they need to really make a lasting holistic difference. So I guess I’m kind of interested in how you see that perhaps happening or how government can play a role in actually addressing issues in a more holistic fashion.

AB: I mean there’s one simple thing that could be done by the Government. But also, every local council, every integrated care system, every combined authority, every business. And that’s having mental health and all policies. It’s a really simple idea. It’s one that is common in the public health communities to talk about health in all decisions or all policies. And it’s a simple idea. If you’re developing a policy, whether it is national Government looking at its policies around asylum or housing, or whether it’s a local councillor looking at its planning policies or economic development, whether it’s an integrated care system thinking about the future of its health services. If you think about well, what impact will this have on people’s mental health? And how will it support people living with mental illness? Really simple questions. But they can begin to shape policies using evidence of what we know will benefit people’s mental health. Actually, you can make quite significant shifts just by asking those simple questions. And governments or local authorities of any political persuasion can use that to make a significant difference in the way that they utilise their resources, the way they prioritise, the decisions they make about the way really difficult knotty issues are dealt with, by thinking about, well, how would this support our mental health and if that sounds like that a bit unrealistic, it’s worth remembering that the economic and social cost of mental health problems was £120 billion the last time we counted, which was before the pandemic. We’re having a look to see what it looks like now and we’ll be reporting on that later in the year. But it’s a very expensive social issue. So if you can improve people’s mental health, even 1%, if you can support fairer lives for people with mental illness, even a bit, you can both make a difference on a human level, but also have a better functioning society and it can make a very substantial difference. So I think there are ways in which this would both make sense and make a real difference.

AJ: Completely, and I think it’s that sense of if we took that kind of approach, we’d have this less somewhat discordant reality where we’re hearing some messages that are, you know, we really want to support people’s mental health and we want people to get well and we want people to live their best lives. And then other policies where you think how on earth can this be good for someone’s mental health? You know, the things we’ve seen recently around refugees being put on barges, things we’ve heard about, as you say, the social security system, and you think, okay, there’s a desperate dire need here for people to actually consider the implications of this for people’s mental health. And as you say, it’s not a nice to have. The Government and the Treasury, in fact, cannot ignore this, because it has massive implications, not least for people’s lives and their quality of life, but also for for the whole of the nation’s costs and finances.

AB: Yeah, it makes sense from every perspective. And it’s not just about being nice or doing a nice thing. It’s actually about having a flourishing society that is probably more equitable, certainly fairer, and where people enjoy better wellbeing. And that literally is in everybody’s interest – there is no body that doesn’t benefit from that.

AJ: Exactly. And I guess I just wanted to quickly ask you, you know, I’m thinking about the current situation in the UK and our health care, the whole nation’s mental health, what one thing most concerns you, and what one thing gives you hope?

AB: I’ll tell you the thing that gives me hope first. We recently completed our evaluation of the Better Mental Health Fund, which was a government scheme and it put money into the hands of local councils to promote mental health and wellbeing in 40 of the most deprived areas of the country. And they largely put money in the hands of community organisations they worked with, to promote mental health and wellbeing within their communities, for their communities. And we were lucky enough to evaluate that and see that it made a massive difference. And it really shows that if you trust communities, if you trust people, if you actually kind of take people’s mental health seriously. I mean, this was a trifling amount of money but we could see the difference it made in all those places and the creative ways people used it. Imagine if we did more of that, all the time. Imagine if we trusted communities more, if local public health teams in local councils had the resources to do this more routinely, and community organisations were better, more properly funded. That really I think is a great cause for hope, because it shows that a relatively simple thing can make a very big difference. I think the cause for concern probably has to be within mental health services. The increasing use of the Mental Health Act, which I know we’ve talked about, and I think some of the recent television documentaries that have showed people what many will already know about the terrible experiences that some people have in inpatient care, we really do need to be thoughtful about what kind of mental health services we actually want for the future. We’ve rightly been focusing on recent years in expanding particularly community support and building up and closing the treatment gap. But we’ve also got a quality gap and crucially an equality gap in services. We know that some groups of people are at greater risk of poor treatment within services. And again, we have to acknowledge the exceptional hard work that people in the system do and the dedication that they have to providing the best possible support and knowing the terrible circumstances many are working under. But we do have to acknowledge that we really do need to change the way services are working, the kind of places in which support is offered, the fact that many of the buildings mental health services use are dilapidated and in urgent need of replacement, or at least repair. And there is opportunity to change things there. There are lots of ideas out there for how we could have better functioning, more compassionate, more effective services for people. And we need to find a way of unleashing those.

AJ: Amazing, thank you, Andy. I am so grateful for the way that you managed to bring hope into that despite such a challenging situation and setting that out. And I think that’s kind of what we basically said we needed to do and what what the Centre does. So you’ve exemplified that very well. But yeah, agreed there are major changes needed to really develop and create the mental health services that people deserve. And yeah, it’s exciting to hear that the ideas for that are out there. There are solutions out there. Where I wanted to end on is what I try and ask guests on our podcast. It’s just a very quick question about what do you do to maintain your own wellbeing? This is a challenging role, it’s a challenging space to be in as we have clearly outlined. And, you know, it’s, again, helpful to remember that we’re not just talking about mental health, but this is something that affects all of us. And so yeah, what what do you do to maintain your own wellbeing?

AB: Well obviously I’m very lucky that the organisation I work in has 25 other splendid people in it. And that makes quite a big difference. But it’s a bit of a cliche in the year we were at Chelsea Flower Show to say I love my garden, but I do love my garden. And going out and walking is great. And watching nonsense on television is entirely splendid. And a little bit of sport as well. Don’t do it myself, I’m far too lazy. But yeah, it’s, it’s amazing, isn’t it the things that we gravitate to are generally the things we liked when we were nine or 10 apparently. I did learn this recently that the things you like as an adult or the things you actually like as a person, just think about what you liked when you were nine or 10 it’s probably that.

AJ: Yeah, okay. So true, so true. Spice Girls features high on mine. Andy, thank you so much for sitting down and chatting to us and taking the time out to do this. It’s been super helpful to chat to you. And yeah, thanks very much.

AB: Thank you.

AJ: Thanks for tuning in. I hope listening to our conversation has inspired you in the movement for mental health equality. We rely on support to fight for change, so please give what you can at centreformentalhealth.org.uk/donate. See you next time.

Tag: Podcast

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