Hello my name is Sarah Dale.

I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Anorexia, depression and anxiety which lead to me self-Injuring. As a service user I spent many years trying to gain a diagnosis. Since my diagnosis I have been able to find the most effective treatment and have learnt more about my diagnosis and myself which has led to an increase in my quality of life. I have been a carer for family members with different needs.

As a Powys mental health service user representative I attend various different meetings and boards, at a local and regional level, with the aim to bring a service user and Powys perspective. I bring any current issues or trends and help shape new services or treatment pathways so they are ‘service user ready’.

I became a rep for many reasons. I don’t want others to have the experiences I had. I want to help others get their voice heard and make a difference to the local community. And I want to raise awareness of the issues I feel strongly about and the issues that Powys residents experience in accessing help and support for mental health and social issues. 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.

In my time as a rep I have pushed for more representation from those experiencing mental health and substance misuse issues. Also more ways that the public can feed back issues or compliments they have experienced so reps can better represent the community, from online feedback forms (include link) and our meet the reps days. I have also created and developed service user led self-injury awareness sessions. These were originally developed for our Minor Injury Units and mental health staff. The sessions have also been attended by our voluntary mental organisations and our social services staff and foster carers. Every attendee gets an orange ribbon so look out for it. My self-injury awareness work has led me to be a part of the Mid and West Wales Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Board, a Wales-wide research project. Who knows where next.

As a rep I have gained a greater appreciation for our staff. They are just as frustrated as us with the service at times. I feel as service users and as carers, we need to remind ourselves that staff are people too, and are doing what they can with what resources they have.

Email Sarah at sarah.dale@mhreps.org.uk

Read Sarah’s piece on Borderline Personality Disorder, which was written for BPD Awareness Month in May 2021.