The point of a conference is to make you think.
To think about what you’ve heard, new ideas to implement, how to work with new connections, questioning how and why things are done.
But yesterday, at the Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) conference on Future Mental Health, I got all this and more, from a more personal, and slightly terrifying, perspective.
I have an 18 month old daughter. She is at the forefront of most of what I do, and the focus of a great deal of my time, worry and energy. The very first speaker, Professor Philip Wilson from the University of Aberdeen, spoke about how early childhood experience has a lasting effect on future physical and mental health, and how positive parenting at age one was strongly associated with a reduced risk of disruptive behaviour; how harsh parenting linked strongly with psychiatric problems in later life but that early advantage leads to better resilience.
He said that it can be predicted from age one how well or not a child will do in the future.
No pressure then.
The Conference looked at the future of mental health, how it’ll look in 30 years, and it dawned on me that if predictions can be made on the future health of one year olds, then the future of mental health is now. For me, this put into stark perspective the difficulty and importance of the roles of health visitors and family nurses, not to mention mental health nurses.
When QNIS brought back the Queen’s Nurse title in 2017, a family nurse, Anne, and two health visitors, Clare and Gemma received the title alongside Kelvin, a mental health nurses and 16 others. My eureka moment at 10:45 on Thursday 15th June put into context just how important, difficult and wide ranging their jobs can be, as it can be for so many nurses.
Professor Wilson wove together a strong theme of the importance of repositioning mental health services for children, for adults to look at the experiences of childhood, and to have adult and paediatric services work closely together. I know that in all these areas there are passionate nurses who want the best for patients of all ages and it makes me proud to work for an organisation that supports them.
And all that came from just the first speaker. Imagine how it went on throughout the day. Makes you think.
Written by Rob Mackie
Policy and Communications Manager