Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. Learn more.

Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

PPN KSS Conference: A Service User's Perspective

26 Nov 18

An invited blog from our keynote listener, Helen Leigh-Phippard

Looking back now on that day a few things stand out in my memory. Most of all it was fascinating to see so many different kinds of psychological professionals gathered together in one place - lecturers, researchers, clinicians, managers, and amongst them clinical psychologists, PWPs, counsellors, therapists of various kinds and more. Just bringing all those people together to meet and talk was a major achievement.

I really enjoyed Byron Lee's keynote on collective and compassionate leadership. I think it  resonated so strongly with me because I’ve been working in various ways inside the local service user community for many years and leadership within this community is (and has to be) collective. I’ve never thought about it in that way before but that keynote helped me recognise that huge strength that we have as service users. I also had a brief but inspiring conversation with Byron over lunch which I haven’t stopped thinking about in the month since the conference and which has had a direct and positive impact on other pieces of work I’ve been doing - so he was certainly a highlight of the day for me.

I was asked to contribute to the summing up of the day by coming up with an 8th ball that the PPN shouldn’t drop. My ball had two parts, which I supposed I visualised as a yin and yang ball. The first part, which had been a bit of a theme throughout the day, was that the PPN needs to have a very clear vision, of what it is and what it’s for, that is clearly shared by all its members. The second part was more of a reflection on my part. I had felt throughout the day a real sense that some people at the conference, faced with all the difficulties of austerity and the pressures of IAPT in particular, were harking back to a “good old days” when psychological services were better than they are now. As a long time service user I don’t recall any good old days. So I simply reflected on that to the conference. I shared my experience of 13 years in mental health services with no psychological therapy. I wasn’t trying to downplay the problems and pressures of the current state of services but I did want to suggest that services have improved over time.

People with mild to moderate depression can now get some treatment relatively quickly and that is a service improvement. It’s easy to get caught up in the grim reality of targets, cuts and day to day pressures and forget that IAPT has meant that many more people do have access to therapy when they first become unwell than ever did in the past. That doesn’t solve the problems of those who are more unwell - but I don’t think it helps anyone for psychological professionals to be fighting amongst themselves over a mythical past when those people got therapy.

Helen Leigh-Phippard, Servicer User Consultant, PPN Steering Group