Co-production is an important part of how mental health services are delivered in Powys, and one factor of this is a group of representatives who have either used, or care for somebody who has used, mental health services. These unpaid volunteers sit on regional and national partnership boards, alongside professionals who are involved in the delivery of services. This includes representatives from the Police, Ambulance Service, medical professionals, Powys County Council adult and child social care managers and voluntary groups.
The reps are there to make sure user/carer voice is included in the planning of services and they are always on hand to listen to your experiences and issues so that they can feed this back to the partnership groups. You can contact the reps by emailing the Participation Officer Owen Griffkin on owen.griffkin(at)pavo.org.uk or calling 01597 822191.
Also if you would like to discuss becoming a representative yourself contact Owen for more information.
We will also be holding regular ‘Meet Your Rep’ events all over Powys. This will be an informal drop in session where you can have a chat and a cup of tea with the local rep.
Rhydian Parry - Individual Representative
My name is Rhydian Parry and I’m service user rep for the partnership board here in Powys. I was diagnosed with bipolar back in 2002 when I was 17 in what was a very serious episode. I have been in hospital due to my condition quite a few times since then and it’s from my experiences in there and in the general ‘system’ that I decided to become a rep. I wanted to try and help change mental health services for the better by bringing my experiences and those of other service users to the table. It’s good to have this opportunity and in the majority I do feel listened to and respected on the board. I think that we are making a difference, although the pace of change can feel a little slow at times.
Sarah Dale - Individual representative
Hello my name is Sarah Dale.
I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), depression and anxiety which lead to me self harming. I fought for years to gain my diagnosis and spent most of them under the care of Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and multiple Community Mental Health teams highlighting the disparity of both treatment and attitude between one team to the other.
I became a rep because I don't want others to have to fight for years just to be diagnosed to get the treatment they need. I strongly believe we all have the responsibility to do what we can to change and improve the mental health services that we all use.
Read Sarah's piece on Borderline Personality Disorder, which was written for BPD Awareness Month in May 2021.
Helen Missen - Individual Representative
Foremost I am a mum to 3, all pretty much grown up now. The word ‘carer’ embraces a wide sphere of areas that as a mum, one covers daily. Hitting mental illness running with my then 15 year old daughter, was a steep learning curve. After the initial shock of anorexia in our home, I took on a role which I would never have expected nor asked for: that of an advocate and voice in Wales for change in mental health services. An overhaul of what was happening then, and an expectation of change.
Over the past 9 years I have seen a greater understanding of both eating disorders and general mental health diagnosis, a slow change in conversation and a lessening of stigma associated with a mental health diagnosis. I feel honoured to have been part of that change, and my role as an individual rep in Powys has been both rewarding and interesting. To be listened to, respected and heard is one of the many fruitful aspects of the role of an individual rep.
Over the last 18 months PAVO and the individual representatives have been collecting details from people interested in becoming 'Experts By Experience'. Up to now we have had over 50 expressions of interest and we were aware that we might not have enough opportunities to give all the respondents a chance to be involved in the planning and delivery of services.
We want to address this over the next year and the first stage of this is a regular newsletter collecting current co-production opportunities, both regionally and nationally, and highlighting work done by current reps. Moving forward we would like to see more people take an active role in the work that individual representatives do, providing them with a depth of knowledge of people's attitudes and experiences of mental health services that they can utilise in their partnership board meetings.