Our seminar – Working for Mental Health – “Providing opportunities for people recovering from mental ill health”, was held in the Europa’s Penthouse Suite, and attracted quite a crowd, with standing room only! Our host for the afternoon was Letitia Fitzpatrick, who introduced our line-up of speakers, including Dr Stephen Farry, the Employment and Learning Minister; Lynne Miller, Central & NW London NHS Foundation Trust; and Alison Kerr from the Belfast Trust.
The seminar, which was sponsored by the Tughan Trust, began with Ann Donnelly, who performed a fun and interactive monologue about famous people through the ages who have succeeded in their chosen professions despite living with mental illness.
David Babington, Chief Executive of AMH, then addressed the audience,
“Work is not only central to most people’s lives; it has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. AMH deliver training programmes and support work based training and employment placements with a view to helping our clients re-enter the workforce, helping more than 1,700 people each year. We have developed very positive links with many businesses in the private sector, organisations in the voluntary sector and several Trusts and Councils but as the largest employer in Northern Ireland, the public sector needs to engage further than it has to date. With the cooperation of the public sector, these schemes could be extended at little cost, with huge benefit both to the people involved and to the wider economy.”
David was then followed by Lynne Miller, our visiting guest from Central & London NHS Foundation Trust, whose talk was entitled “Increasing access to paid employment opportunities for service users in a large Mental Health and Addictions Trust”. Slides from Lynne’s talk can be downloaded here. Lynne also referenced many service users experiences who placed employment at the heart of their recovery. A collection of their stories can be downloaded here.
The Minister then took to the stage,
“With the right support, people with mental health conditions are able to make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s workforce. Not only do they play their part in the wider economy, but through meaningful and fulfilling employment, individuals can enhance the quality of their lives on all levels, including their physical and mental health. For those suffering from mental health problems, learning new skills and engaging with the employment market can have a positive effect on their own confidence and self-esteem.”
The Minister went on to pay tribute to the work of AMH,
“The support given by AMH to those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities is invaluable. My Department has a long and established working relationship with AMH and by continuing to work together to deliver a range of successful training programmes and initiatives, we can ensure that those afflicted by mental illness are given the opportunity to maximise their potential.”
The Minister concluded,
“My Department will continue to support people with mental health issues to find and sustain employment and help those affected to enjoy the social, financial and health benefits of work.”
Alison Kerr, from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust then talked about how they have been able to provide placement opportunities, the benefits and the challenges they have experienced and advice and guidance to other organisations. A copy of Alisons slides can be downloaded here.
The highlight of the programme was three AMH client testimonials and a panel of clients, AMH staff, and employers who discussed the issue of work placements and took questions from the audience.
Colin Loughran, AMH Service Manager and Billy Kohner, Chair of AMH closed the event.
A copy of the seminar brochure can be downloaded here.
We’d like to thank all those who attended the seminar, and our speakers and panel members: Letitia Fitzpatrick, Ann Donnelly, Josephine Devlin, David Babington, Lynne Miller, Dr Stephen Farry, Alison Kerr, Lynda Duke, John McGeown, Dairmuid McKeown, Selwyn Johnston, Brian Annesley, Jason Nicholson, John Kerr, Dermot Donnelly, Colin Loughran and Billy Kohner.
We will continue to lobby for more placement opportuntites and thank all those who continue to support AMH and our clients.