Engage Aotearoa

New programmes added to The Wellbeing Sessions

Whakatau Mai: The Wellbeing Sessions are a series of free online groups funded by the Ministry of Health as part of the national Covid19 response. They were started during the first Lockdown by the good folks over at Changing Minds who have curated a weekly calendar of zoom sessions that anyone with an internet connection and a device can join.

You’ll find regular sessions covering things like mindfulness, journaling, yoga, The Mind Tribe’s safe tapering group, and the recently added Realities Group, which I am really excited to see up and running, plus a bunch of one-off sessions like the upcoming Food & Mood session on February 4th.

The Realities Group
An opportunity for people who experience other realities to discuss their experiences and gain support, with the aim of better understanding these experiences and how to live well with them.  Based on the principles of the Hearing Voices Movement.
https://wellbeingsessions.eventcalendarapp.com/u/22079/91766

The Wellbeing Sessions will run through to the end of February 2021. Here’s a little recommendation Rachel Hunter shared from managed isolation.

The ‘patient voice’ on antidepressant withdrawal effects

A new qualitative study exploring antidepressant withdrawal effects and prescribing experiences was published in November which is well worth a read. In this paper, Anne Guy and co-authors outline the results of a qualitative study of 158 people who gave descriptions of their experience of psychotropic medication withdrawal for petitions sent to British parliaments. 

“The themes identified include: a lack of information given to patients about the risk of antidepressant withdrawal; doctors failing to recognise the symptoms of withdrawal; doctors being poorly informed about the best method of tapering prescribed medications; patients being diagnosed with relapse of the underlying condition or medical illnesses other than withdrawal; patients seeking advice outside of mainstream healthcare, including from online forums; and significant effects on functioning for those experiencing withdrawal.”

There are a few links to prescriber resources in among the references that might be useful to explore.

Read the full open-access article here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2045125320967183

Guy, A., Brown, M., Lewis, S., et al, (2020). The ‘patient voice’: patients who experience antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are often dismissed, or misdiagnosed with relapse, or a new medical condition. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 10, DOI: 10.1177/2045125320967183

Stuff article puts spotlight on psychologist shortage

On Tuesday, Stuff published an article by Helen Harvey highlighting the ongoing issue of access to psychologists in New Zealand. You can read the whole article here if you missed it.

In a nutshell, there still aren’t enough of us to go around, wait-times are too long, and we have far too few funded options. Dr Malcolm Stewart of the NZ College of Clinical Psychologists hits the nail on the head when he says, “The whole mental health system needs an overhaul. I don’t know if the system has ever really met the need.’’

We went on strike for a whole year trying to advocate for an increase in our workforce numbers so we could create the conditions we need to meet demand, but all we got was a pay-rise and a working group. No real change. None of us are in it for the money of course, so we keep leaving. The official story is always one of moving on to greener pastures, and we usually are. But that’s not usually the whole story. We aren’t allowed to talk in public about what happens in the pastures of DHB-land. It’s a bit like joining Fight Club that way. So it is good to see a journalist taking this up in the media again.

Harvey writes, “Following on from Like Minds Like Mine, a Government funded public awareness campaign, there has been a lot more acceptance of mental health issues and more people seeking out psychological assistance, Stewart says. “And more and more people are seeking non-pharmacological ways of dealing with issues. Good therapy, amongst other things, often helps people to hold onto hope and to believe that change is possible. This can be very protective of life and helps people believe that they can be part of changing their own lives. It is often harder for people to feel this optimism and agency if their treatment is mostly just medication.’’ One in five New Zealanders live with mental illness and/or addiction each year, Health and Disability Commissioner figures reveal. And it is estimated that nearly half of the population will live with mental distress and/or addiction at some point during their lifetime. The system is creaking under the weight and many are blaming years of inaction in the area of mental health.”

Read the full article here:
New Zealand’s Psychological Crisis Putting Lives at Risk
Helen Harvey, Stuff, 26 Jan 2021. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/122695066/new-zealands-psychological-crisis-putting-lives-at-risk

OurSelves volume 2

Earlier this week, Auckland Pride launched the second volume of OurSelves a free publication featuring eleven creatives from within Aotearoa’s rainbow communities.

Edited by Courtney Sina Meredith and Janet Lilo, and designed by Sarah Gladwell, the publication aims to delight and lend strength to those who discover their community reflected in it.

Order copies from the Auckland Pride website at the link below:
https://aucklandpride.org.nz/ourselves/

Clinicians share their lived experience: In Conversation episodes 1-5

The In Conversation Series from In2GreatMentalHealth invites mental health professionals to share their lived experience to help reduce the stigma associated with mental-health difficulties in our communities and within the mental-health workforce.

Scroll down for episodes 1-5.
I’ve gathered together episodes 6-11 for you here.
Watch the full series on In2Gr8’s Youtube channel here.

Episode One: Clinical psychologists Dr Natalie Kemp and Dr Anna Sicilia introduce the series and talk about their lived experience and stigma in the mental heath scene.

Episode Two: Professor Patrick Corrigan in conversation with Dr Natalie Kemp about his lived experience and how things have shifted over the years.

Episode Three: Clinical psychologist Dr Nneamaka Ekebuisi talks about their lived experience of mental health difficulties and intersectional issues.

Episode Four: Mental health nurse Kate Snewin speaks about her lived experience of mental health difficulties and the impact of work culture on navigating this.

Episode Five: Dr Thomas Richardson talking to Dr Natalie Kemp about his experience of navigating lived experience of bipolar disorder as a clinical psychologist.


Clinicians share their lived experience: In Conversation episodes 6 – 11

In Conversation is a series of interviews with mental-health clinicians who have their own lived experience of struggling with their mental health from In2Gr8 Mental Health in the UK. The first five episodes feature Dr Natalie Kemp in conversation with Dr Anna Sicilia, Professor Patick Corrigan (clin psych), Dr Nneamaka Ekebuisi (clin psych), Kate Snewin (RMN), and Dr Thomas Richardson (clin psych).

Scroll down for episodes 6-11.

Episode Six: Dr Stephen Linacre, clinical psychologist, talks about his lived experience of significant eating difficulties and the professional work he does now in this area.

Episode Seven: Dr Inke Schreiber, clinical psychologist talks with Natalie Kemp about her lived experience of mental health difficulties.


Episode eight: Dr Rufus May, clinical psychologist talks about his lived experience of mental health difficulties and working in the mental-health sector.

Episode Nine: Michelle Jamieson, PhD candidate, speaks about her lived experience of mental health difficulties and issues of intersectionality.

Episode Ten: Professor Jamie Hacker-Hughes talks about his lived experience of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and working for many years professionally in the mental health scene.

Episode Eleven: Emily-May Barlow, Mental Health Nurse and academic, talks about her lived experience of mental health difficulties, in particular, of dissociation.

British Psychological Society releases position statement on psychologists with lived experience

The British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology released a position statement on clinical psychologists with lived experience of mental health difficulties on the 19th of August.

The document opens by stating, “The Division of Clinical Psychology publicly recognises and supports the unique and valued contribution that lived experience of mental health difficulties brings to individuals working within clinical psychology.”

It goes on to recognise how many therapists with lived experience there are among the profession, the diversity of these experiences, the complexity involved in making decisions to disclose these experiences, the impact of stigma, and the value these experiences bring to the work and the field as a whole.

They close by writing, “Overall, this statement wishes to make clear that lived experience of mental health difficulties does not have to be a barrier to training or practising as a clinical psychologist. On the contrary, people with lived experience are an asset to the profession and make a significant contribution to it”.

As a therapist with lived experience myself, it is a wonderful thing to see these points written down by such a well respected group. I look forward to the day that the professional bodies here in New Zealand take similar steps. I am incredibly grateful to the good folks at In2Gr8 Mental Health for the hand they had in making this a reality.

Read the full position statement here www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/statement-clinical-psychologists-lived-experience-mental-health-difficulties


Support group for people with experience of bipolar disorder

The Bipolar Support Group at DRIVE is run by and for people with lived experience of bipolar disorder in the Counties Manukau area. The group meets on the first Friday of every month at DRIVE Consumer Direction in Manukau to share challenges, offer support, and gather strength and hope. New members are welcome. At this stage this group will run until April 2021. More information can be found on the official Facebook Event Page here:https://tinyurl.com/y9rhd46k

For more information ring DRIVE on 09 263 6508 and leave a message.
Text 021 921 738 or email counties.bipolar@gmail.com

World Antipsychotic Withdrawal Survey

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of advising on the World Antipsychotic Withdrawal Survey and last week I met with the project lead and the statistics whizz to prepare for data analysis. You can colour me excited because it is shaping up to be huge – 4000 people and counting so far! The NZ sample is still relatively small but the survey is still open, so if this is relevant to you, do take a look and think about getting amongst it if it feels right for you.

This is a PhD research project led by Will Hall under the supervision of Jim van Os and John Read.

Find out more here: https://www.antipsychoticwithdrawalsurvey.com/

Trauma informed mindfulness

With all that is going on the world at the moment, there is a lot of talk about the benefits of mindfulness as a way to cope and heaps of useful tips being shared online. But learning mindfulness can be tricky, especially when we have trauma or psychosis on board, and some adaptations are often needed. So I thought I’d dig up a bit of information to share and came across this article on Psychology Today which sums it up nicely.

“While there is strong scientific evidence to support the use of mindfulness for emotional and psychological healing, it is also important to recognize how these practices can lead to increased distress. For those with unresolved trauma, the practice of mindfulness can be approached carefully and thoughtfully to minimize the likelihood of negative outcomes. […] For some, intentionally engaging in the experience of “being present” with thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations can lead to a resurfacing of unresolved, or even undiscovered, issues and feelings. […] At times, being mindful can leave a survivor feeling like they are trapped or helpless again.” Read more about trauma-informed mindfulness here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/nz/blog/choosing-your-meditation-style/202006/trauma-informed-mindfulness

If you find doing exercises like the Mindful SNACK difficult, this article might help explain why. Know that it’s normal if you’ve got distressing experiences going on inside. Go gently with yourself. Many people find it helpful to start practising for very short times, with things that are outside of them like the view, an object or a piece of music, or while doing something, like walking, eating, drinking a cuppa, or stretching.