Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Miranda - Series 3

There were many squeals of excitement coming from my house yesterday for a number of reasons. Not least because of this:

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Ruby Wax at the Anna Freud Centre on Mental Health

Recently - Ruby Wax gave a talk at the Anna Freud Centre on Mental Health. She posted it on her blog and I have re-posted it here as its a talk that I feel everyone needs to see and read. Its similar to her TED Talk and essential reading for anyone linked to the world of Mental Health.

I’m not going to harp on about depression, people glaze over, you can see them going “oh here she goes again yabbing on about the darkness.  I know when I’ve told anyone that I’ve got it, I get a few phone calls telling me to perk up - perk up, I didn’t think of that. It’s just not to be discussed. Once you couldn’t say gay, before that the c word (cancer), then a long time ago you couldn’t even mention you were a witch – this is the latest taboo.

 And this isn’t something that happens to a small minority it’s up to 1 in 4 of us, so where is everyone?

1234 it could be you or you or if it’s not you it’s probably a relative or a husband, everyone knows one. 

Thanks to the stigma a lot of shame comes with the package. I have friends who say “Show me the lumps show me the x rays” and of course you can’t, so there’s even more shame cause you think I’m not living in a township I’m not being carpet bombed so you get these abusive voices but not one voice about 100,000 voices, like if the devil had Tourette’s, that’s what it sounds like.

Some people think depression is what you have when you feel sad or having the blues, it’s such a deceptive word. Depression and other mental problems aren’t always situation appropriate; it’s a disease of the brain.

It is exactly like what cancer is to cells and cardiovascular disease is to the heart and you wouldn’t tell someone suffering from one of those to perk up. Why is it that every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy except the brain?

When you have a mental disorder you get a double whammy because your brain has gone down and it’s ill but because you don’t have another brain to make an assessment, you can’t tell. I mean if you had a spare brain you could but you don’t. If you had a pain anywhere else in your body you’d be able to identify it, not when the brain itself is sick.

And the only reason we don’t know enough about mental disease, how to treat it is because brain research doesn’t get much funding - It’s not as sexy a disease as some of the others. You can’t get Sharon Stone to show up to do the raffle for this one, you can get Liz Hurley to raise money for aids, Greta Scacchi to save fish but there’s a no show for this one.

What’s bizarre to me is that it doesn’t seem to be public knowledge that everything, I mean everything, emanates from the brain - this is why you laugh, cry, feel, love, hope, dream, want to vault or become a prime minister.

And every single problem physically, sociologically, globally and psychologically is primarily because of some dysfunction in the brain, but now we have something that can be done about it. Now we have means to look right into the brain, right into the mothership for neurological investigation with MRI, FMRI, EEG to identify psychiatric disorders and then provide specific therapies.

Just to put it in perspective why research of this kind might be important I’d like to read you some figures.

  • By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem.
  • It affects more people than all physical illnesses put together.
  • Mental ill health will soon be the biggest burden on society both economically and sociologically.
  • Even more of a drain on the economy is the fact mental illness accounts for nearly half of all people on incapacity benefits. The official figure here is 44%.
  • The World Economic Forum estimates that the global cost of mental illness will be about 16 trillion by 2030. 
  • The cost to the economy in the UK is now around £70 billion a year.  

There’s so much talk about the problems of rising crime and over crowded prisons. Again you might not care about mental illness but when you’re mugged or your house is broken into, the cause of the crime usually stems from someone with a mental pathology. 

So what can be done?

Some of these costs could be reduced by greater focus on early identification and intervention.

Neuroscience, through better understanding of children's brain development, will be able to target specific psychological treatments. And this is exactly what the Anna Freud Centre is doing and has always done, working with children to try and prevent them from developing severe pathologies in later life. But they want to do more.

Thanks to brain research, we now know that the brain can change throughout our lifetimes that we aren’t set in stone as it was once believed. We now know that our brains aren’t hard wired; now how we’re born no longer determines how we are for the rest of our lives.

Our brains are capable of neuro-plasticity throughout our lives, they constantly change depending on external experience; also by changing the way you think, you can re-route the brain cells or neurons, break habits and create a new patterns of behaviour.

Gloria Gaynor was wrong when she sang I am what I am. She will have to change those lyrics but it won’t be so easy to dance to, what rhymes with neuroplasticity?

The enormous support for research in the cure for cancer has had the result that oncologists have been able to target specific cancers with specific therapies and recommend preventions, and what has been accomplished is astonishing.

If mental health research was at this level, clinicians would be able to understand more about brain functions, especially how the brain is effected by a neglected and damaging childhood. Imagine how this necessary research might not just save lives, cut crime, improve the economy, diminish suicides, decrease drug and alcohol addiction, reduce heart disease and last but not least, make life less tortuous for the 1 in 4.

Before we point our fingers at politicians for making us suffer, or thinking our problems will be over if we sort out the ice cap melting, global conflict, taxes, corruption, phone hacking let us look in at ourselves, the problem isn’t out there, we are the emergency. We are not the victims we are the perpetrators. If we can learn about ourselves, how our brain actually shapes our behaviour and what we can do about it, only then can we find the solution to everything. It’s all in our heads.

By looking after our children’s minds, the Anna Freud Centre can help all of us shape a better society.

Porting Durham

So we have had Milking in Newcastle. Now its Porting in Durham.

From One More Mum

Friday, 30 November 2012

Miranda and Stevie v Geraldine and Alice

I can spot some subtle similarities between these two sets of chums - can you?
(One of them is that they are both incredibly funny and very British humour - but I am not referring to just these two pictures specifically. I also mean their general humour/friendship and characters in each sitcom)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Milking - Newcastle

Have you tried Milking? A friend of mine at Newcastle university and some of his friends have just started this new craze and the Daily Mail, other newspapers and media have cottoned on. They have also become and huge YouTube hit.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

London 2012 Olympics - Team GB Parade

I am on YouTube with some of the other London 2012 Games Makers - see if you can spot me about 25 seconds in....!

Friday, 16 November 2012

More places made available. If you can come, please get in touch.

ECHO FEAST and Maudsley Carers Event
Bestwood Lodge Hotel
Bestwood Lodge
Bestwood Lodge Country Park
Nottingham NG5 8NE
United Kingdom

Driving Directions

Friday November 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM CET
Saturday November 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM CET
Add to my calendar
Friday Programme 23rd November 2012
8.45 Introduction and housekeeping Charlotte Bevan
"F.E.A.S.T. and what we do" Fiona Bromelow

9 - 10.45 Keynote Speech Professor Janet Treasure

10:45-11:15 Coffee

11.15 Plenary
 "Boys Get Anorexia Too" Jenny Langley
"The ECHO Project" Dr Pamela McDonald
"Professionals, Carers and the Internet" Dr Rachel Polonskyand Dr Maria Finnis

12:30 Q and A Session with the morning's speakers

1- 1.45 Lunch

1.45 Plenary
"First Steps Derby" Danielle Sinclair
"Freed Beeches" Yvonne Broughton
"Beat, the UK's leading Eating Disorders Charity" Susan Ringwood

3:00- 3:30 Tea

3.30 - 5.30 "Skills Based Learning for Carers" a presentation for professionals. Gill Todd

Saturday Programme 24th November 2012

8.45 Housekeeping and Introductions Charlotte Bevan

9.00 - 10.15
B-EAT our work with carers Susan Ringwood
Succeed Karine Berthou 15 minutes

10.30-11 Coffee

11.00 - 12:30
C&M Films Charlotte Bevan 10 minutes
Practical Skills for Carers, Workshop, Part One  Gill Todd

12.30 - 1.30 Lunch

1.30 - 3.30 Practical Skills for Carers, Workshop, Part Two  Gill Todd 
Register Now!
I can't make it
Charlotte Bevan

Monday, 29 October 2012

Miranda Hart - Is It Just Me?

This time last week - I had the enormous honour of hearing Miranda Hart speak live to a small audience in London's West End about her new book "Is It Just Me?" 

Miranda discussed her book with Emma Kennedy and the the audience were also given the chance to ask questions. It was such an entertaining evening. You couldn't emerge from the theatre without smiling from ear to ear. In fact, I smiled all the way home and even found it hard to get to sleep..!

I have found it very hard to put the book down ever since I got my copy last Monday night - my ticket included a signed copy. I sat on the train on Thursday shaking with laughter, snorting into my scarf - every single page has made me howl with laughter and that is no exaggeration.

What I absolutely love about her is that she is so incredibly talented and almost implausibly humble, which makes her the best kind of celebrity and virtually unique. She is just so normal and down to earth. Not many celebrities are like that.

Add it to your Christmas list this year or order it now if you can't wait until then. I can't recommend it more highly. 

Rhiannon Lambert - Wild Horses

Rhiannon Lambert is one of the most talented singers I know. It is so exciting that her first EP is coming out and will be available on 6 November 2012. See this video for a sneak preview: 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Vikram Patel - TED talks

Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. 

Vikram Patel outlines a highly promising approach -- training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.

New Blog Alert !

One of my favourite people in the world has started writing a blog today - I will be following it closely.

Britain's Best Smiler

Thursday, 11 October 2012

What's so funny about mental illness?

Earlier this year, Ruby Wax was invited to TED talks in Edinburgh. I have been desperate to see a video of her talk. Much to my delight - it came out yesterday on World Mental Health Day.

This will make you laugh out loud - especially if you have any experience or knowledge of mental illness. She deserves every second of the standing ovation at the end too.

Diseases of the body garner sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax -- except those of the brain. Why is that? With dazzling energy and humor, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Daisy Retreat - Bali

I am very honoured to introduce Ellie Donnelly from DAISY RETREAT - please see below and get in touch with her if you would like more information about this amazing treatment for depression.

I am Ellie Donnelly and this is my story in a nutshell.

I’m forty years old and I undertook my clinical training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the Middlesex Hospital in 1998. Since then, in addition to my own private practice, I have held senior positions at The Priory, The Capio Nightingale and The Cygnet Hospitals in London. I have a bipolar disorder, as generations of my family before me, so I have lived with depression since October 1971. I had my first severe episode in 1986.

Since then, depression came in colossal waves, bringing with it the salty stigma of mental illness. I was terrified I’d be found out as bad, crazy, mad, lazy and unlovable. I was certain I was all of these things. In my twenties I feared I’d be seen as a rogue therapist, someone unfit to teach others. I understood, in great detail, the effects of the illness and how to deal with the symptoms; but I could not accept my illness, so I could function but I couldn’t accept myself and thrive.

My depression was a wild flower, no matter which chemicals I used to destroy it, it kept coming back and it was stealing nutrients from the front lawn I was trying so terribly hard to make perfect. The beauty is that this illness of the mind and all of the suffering it brings has, in many ways informed my nature, and served me well. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy gave me tried and tested systems to survive, and my survival, at times, required a grave battle. Deeper healing began when I withdrew from my inner and outer conflicts and that takes more than logic to occur.

Mindfulness increases my capacity to let things be and to sometimes surrender. I’m currently searching for mental health professionals who suffer a disorder, to openly challenge the inherent negativity of our old ways of viewing disorder; professionals who value their experiences, even if they feel silenced by their career choice, bills to pay etc. If we don't dissolve the stigma within our own ranks then how do we encourage thriving, not just surviving? I’m also collecting evidence of human happiness and have set up an open group for people to post the nice things that happen in their life. So I’m sending warmest welcomes to join us on the fledgling LinkedIn groups, ‘Stigmatized Illnesses’ and ‘Collecting Positive Data’.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Facebook's First Advert

Facebook has just reached its 1,000,000,000th user and here is it's first TV advert:

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ben Goldacre

Lots of my lecturers have mentioned the name BEN GOLDACRE recently. I have his book called "Bad Science" although I have to admit that I haven't yet read it from cover to cover. His TED talks is funny, interesting and very informative:

Something to make you smile

Having not blogged for a while - I am now on a bit of a roll....

Somebody showed me this video this evening and it made me laugh, smile and feel a whole lot better after a stressful second day back at university: I hope it makes you smile too.

The Stand Up Kid

Would you do this in front of your whole class? Your lecture hall full of undergraduates? Your colleagues in a meeting?

Three people in the lecture (at least) will have or have had a mental health problem. Think twice before you laugh next time.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Long time no Blog!

I know its been ages since I last published anything on my blog - I have missed writing it a lot. Today I heard Robbie Williams's new song and I LOVE it - hope you like it too:

Sunday, 12 August 2012

This video made me smile

I am so sad that the London 2012 Olympics are drawing to a close this evening. I will be watching the Closing Ceremony with a box of tissues near by.

Everyone has agreed that the BBC Coverage of the Games has been quite brilliant. And the presenters have been very knowledgable on every sport - switching from tennis to football to boxing to sailing - the list goes on. I have heard particular compliments about Clare Balding who has been consistently knowledgable about all aspects of the games.

I came across this video of her along with my other hero Miranda Hart (did you know that they both went to the same school and Clare was Miranda's head girl!), and it made me smile:

Friday, 3 August 2012

Picture of the Day

I feel frustrated that lots of things have got in the way of me blogging recently so apologies for that. I wonder if you are as glued to the Olympics as we are...? This picture caught my eye and made me smile:

Friday, 27 July 2012

London 2012 Olympics

All eyes will be on London this evening as the Opening Ceremony takes place to mark the start of the 2012 Olympics. I feel so honoured and excited to have been part of it. I have been working as a Games Maker - I am one of the 70,000 volunteers who has helped put the games together. My job has been to meet and greet athletes, VIPs and officials at Heathrow as they arrive.

I have met some fascinating people and teams. I have been based in the arrivals section of Terminal 3, which receives flights from Norway, Finland, Denmark, Turkey, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Oman.... the list goes on!

Some of the most note worthy teams who have come through who I will be looking out for are:

Norwegian Sailors
Hungarian Gymnasts
Swedish Equestrian
Denmark Table Tennis
Canadian Fencing
Canadian Triathletes
Ramon Gittens - Men's 100 m Athletics participant (who will run against Usain Bolt)
Norwegian Handball


All the Games Makers at Heathrow have been collecting pin badges from various people from different countries who have come through. I received badges from Oman, Czech Republic, Finland and USA.

I had the honour of being invited to the Opening Ceremony Technical Dress Rehearsal on Monday night so I have seen some of it already - although there is lots that will happen tonight that has all been kept top secret. It was absolutely mind blowing and made me feel so proud to be British.

London and most of the UK has been incredibly lucky this week with blissfully hot weather and there is such an incredible atmosphere around the city. I was walking through Hyde Park this week surrounded by the sounds of other people who are as excited as I am about the Games starting.

Its been challenging having to work in a new place along side people I had never met working strange unpaid hours (some of my shifts start at 5:30 am so my alarm goes at 4 am and some finish as late as 11:30 pm) but its all been so rewarding and I am so pleased I was chosen to help take part. 250,000 people applied for Games Maker roles and only 70,000 people including me were successful.

I will be supporting: