14 people attended an informative, stimulating and enjoyable informal question and answer session with Linda Irvine, NHS Lothian’s Strategic Programme Manager for Mental Health. Linda does a lot of thinking, planning and gathering ideas on how to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people of all ages across the Lothians.
NHS Lothian is involved in a number of Public Social Partnerships (PSPs), a new way for statutory and voluntary organisations to work in partnership. GreenSpace ArtSpace has been asking lots of people what they’d like to see in the grounds of the new hospital. The newest PSP is GameChanger, working with Hibernian Football Club – it’s about both physical and mental health which should help to reduce stigma and discrimination. The annual Taking Stock conference reviews current projects and seeks new ideas. The Scottish Government has promised more money for mental health, to achieve parity with physical health.
We discussed the smoking ban. One member pointed out that it persecutes smokers who can’t get off the grounds, so they don’t have the same rights as others. People feel their mental health is suffering and they miss the social aspect of going out for a cigarette with others. The Patients Council argued the case strongly, especially regarding enforcement, but the ban is national policy. The only effective route may be a legal challenge.
Funding has been sourced to redevelop The Hive and employ an Arts Manager at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The GreenSpace ArtSpace PSP will ensure that there are plenty things available in the grounds for people to do. Groups are being set up to take this forward. The Patients Council will have a seat on each group.
We asked Linda about the future of collective advocacy. Linda stressed the importance of collectiveness – organisations like AdvoCard and CAPS speak for all people with lived experience. We need to use creative ways to gather views, such as Stories of Changing Lives.