Thought-provoking short film that puts the ‘story’ into mental healthcare
By Liz Lockhart
Mental Healthy is glad to be able to share a thought-provoking ‘short’ film which aims to put a personal narrative back into the care of thousands of people who suffer from mental health problems.
The film is called ‘I am who I am’ and was commissioned by Cornwall’s Duchy Health Charity. Made by one of the UK’s top film-makers, ‘I am who I am’ offers insight and understanding of mental health problems, giving the viewer useful information and much to go away and think about. The film was used as a focus for a Duchy Health Charity seminar - Mental Health in Transition – which also looked at a ground-breaking, cross-sector project in North Cornwall which, it is hopes, will roll out across the county and the country at large.
In Ben Giles’ film ‘I am who I am’ experts in the field of mental health and patients themselves explain how their own personal stories and the opportunity to be heard are the key to unlocking the best course of care for each individual.
In the film we see Anthony Hambly, a retired GP who has past experience in commissioning mental health services for his patients. He tells us of his own experience of living with a brother who suffered from chronic schizophrenia. Dr Hambly talks of his family’s trauma as they experienced life with a family member who suffered from mental illness.
In the film Dr Hambly says, ‘Unless you know the background of somebody you don’t know where they are travelling from and travelling to. People have complex lives and the fact is that their background does very much affect them going forward.’
The Duchy Health Charity supports projects which enhance the health and wellbeing of the people of Cornwall, but opening the seminar chairman Dr John Hyslop highlighted a problem that faces the whole nation – that mental healthcare has, over the years, become the ‘poor relation’ of medicine with communication between the experts becoming less and less ‘joined-up’.
Dr Hyslop told Mental Healthy, ‘Mental health problems emerge through so many different root causes and manifest in so many different ways – it’s never a case that one ‘treatment’ fits all. We commissioned this film as the focus of an on-going debate about best practice and to look at how we can all work together with bespoke care that is patient centred – especially important as we enter the brave new world of GP commissioning.’
We are told that the working example of best practice, piloted at the Port Issac surgery in North Cornwall, has been to draw together, on a regular basis, experts including GPs, psychiatrists, community psychiatric nurses (CPNs) and professionals from the charitable sector to discuss individual cases, clearly identify each patient’s care needs and who should contribute in that care.
This model places the patient and their individual story firmly at the centre of the discussions and as the film emphasises, mental illnesses take many forms and understanding each person's history is crucial to helping them cope with their lives. They speak of finding a good GP and of a good connection with a CPN which had life-changing positive effects for them. We understand from their accounts the importance of healthcare professionals taking the time to listen.
Ben Charnaud, senior Consultant Psychiatrist, describes the changes he's seen through forty years working in the field of mental health and alludes to potential funding challenges faced with the government's Health and Social Care Bill. He sums up his work with individual patients in Cornwall as a privilege.
He says ‘Working with people's stories and working with their narrative is a trust thing and we have to earn people's trust to do it. I think it's very important that when we listen to somebody's story we hold that story, we bear witness to who they are and what has happened to them.’
We hope you take the time to watch this insightful short film as it really makes sense to anyone who suffers from mental illness and to those who are affected by those who suffer - just click here.