“Taking the Wheel” – A client-run campaign which will put mental health service users in the driving seat to be launched in Builth Wells on May 12th

“Taking the Wheel”, a service-user led campaign which aims to empower people with a serious mental illness in Wales to take control of their lives and the services they receive will be launched at a special Seminar in Builth Wells on May 12th.

The campaign, which will run until September, will engage people receiving secondary mental health services or who have serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other diagnoses which typically require high levels of care.

Service-user led organisations Hafal and MDF the Bipolar Organisation Cymru will work in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation to support the campaign which will empower people with serious mental illness to:

• Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from serious mental illness.

• Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health (Wales) Measure.

• Make choices about the care and treatment they receive – and who provides it.

• Develop and manage services themselves.

• Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get involved in planning
and commissioning mental health services.

“Taking the Wheel” will feature a rally around Wales in a classic VW microbus with a number of regional and national events. 22 weekly events will take place from May to September, one in each county, and major displays will take place at the National Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show. At each event people will be able literally to ‘take the wheel’ as they race in a camper van rally simulator which promises excitement and fun.

The Seminar launch of the campaign will explore ways which services users can be empowered to take control of their own recovery and have their say on the services they receive.

“Taking the Wheel” will be launched just after the National Assembly Elections providing an excellent opportunity for service users and carers to engage in current mental health campaigning issues, challenging the new Government to ensure that:

● The Mental Health (Wales) Measure has a robust Code of Practice and Regulations.

● The Assembly Government’s Annual Quality Framework target for full compliance by the NHS with the Care Programme Approach is fully implemented.

● There are sufficient resources for mental health services, and the mental health budget is Protected.

Commenting on what the campaign will offer:

Hafal Chief Executive Bill Walden-Jones said: “‘Taking the Wheel’ is different in that service users will not be sitting at the sidelines telling the Welsh Assembly Government what to do. This campaign, which will be run by service users, aims to help people to help themselves although it will still require a response from those who manage mental health services. The campaign promises to be liberating, fun and informative for all involved.”

Sue Wigmore, Manager, MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru said: “MDF Bipolar is very excited to join forces on this user-led campaign which brings together the two mass membership organisations for patients with a serious mental illness in Wales, Hafal and MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru, along with our friends in the Foundation.”

David Crepaz-Keay, Mental Health Foundation said: “We are very pleased to be involved because we recognise how important it is that people with a serious mental illness take action to help themselves. We are delighted to support their campaign along with Hafal and MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru.”

For more information on the campaign please visit: http://www.hafal.org/hafal/takingthewheel.php