Hello! It’s great to be writing as the new Co-Chair. I am really looking forward to working alongside Adrian and Alice and getting to know all those who have contributed to the growth and development of the PPN in the South East so far. Of course a big part of the challenge for the coming year is for us to ensure that the PPN is, and feels like, a network for all of the South East including Wessex and the Thames Valley and we will be planning new engagement events to ensure we build towards this.
It wouldn’t be right to continue without acknowledging the continuing difficult times in which members and colleagues will be working and living. Although some freedom from lockdown restrictions is on the horizon in our personal lives we know that our working lives will continue to look very different to their pre-pandemic state for some time to come. Whether it be the demands of communicating sensitively in PPE or the relentlessness of back to back remote meetings I know that this has been, and will be, an extremely challenging time for many of you. I know that many will also have experienced a personal impact of Covid on themselves or those they love. At the same time, however, Covid has brought with it new opportunities to recognise and promote the important role which psychological professions and psychological approaches can bring. Our experiences over the past year have highlighted how physical and mental health are interconnected and how both are impacted by social and psychological processes. We need to recognise in this a renewed opportunity to advocate for the role which psychological professions can play in improving our services and systems and to connect these new opportunities into our existing vision.
For those who don’t know me – and as I am relatively new to the South East that will be a majority – I moved to Oxford Health NHS Trust in March 2020 as the trust’s Associate Director for Psychological Services. Prior to that I had spent my post-qualification career working in London as a Clinical Psychologist in services for adults with mental health difficulties and latterly as a Clinical Director for mental health services across a London Borough. I’m passionate about the role that all of the psychological professions can have in supporting both mental and physical healthcare, and about the need for us to work closely with experts by experience to ensure that we build in a service user perspective at all stages of our thinking. The South East PPN has a strong tradition of doing this which we need to extend now to represent the whole of the South East and it will be great to be linking in later this month with other PPNs across the country to share experiences and refresh our plans.
For now I hope that the weeks and months to come bring with them a chance to have a little more freedom and perhaps to catch up with friends and family. Wherever you are in the South East we look forward to hearing from you about what the PPN can do to be relevant to you.
Co-Chair, Psychological Professions Network, South East