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Mental healthFeb 25, 2021

Mental health physiotherapists want 'experts by experience' to join their professional network

The Chartered Physiotherapists in Mental Health (CPMH) professional network has launched a publicity drive to find at least two ‘experts by lived experience’ who would like to join its committee.

Committee member Rory Higgins, a specialist neuropsychiatric physiotherapist with South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, told PhysioUpdate the initial response had been ‘very positive’.




Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Bid to find people with 'lived experience' of mental health services has positive response


While an official deadline had not been set, he said he hoped the positions would be filled by the end of this month (February 2021), with the successful applicants being offered monetary vouchers in return for their ‘valuable time and contributions’.

The move reflects something of a sea-change in how professional networks and special interest groups in the field of physiotherapy are represented.

‘I think having lived experience representatives on physiotherapy networks is a progressive and responsive shift in approach. Fundamentally, the viewpoints and experiences of service users should be central to physiotherapists’ dynamic agendas,' Mr Higgins said.

Shift from the past

‘It is not possible for special interest groups to foster effective strategic planning and decision-making about care delivery, without consulting with those with lived experience of interacting with these services.

‘This has not always historically been the case within the physiotherapy profession, although I am confident that we are now beginning to recognise the importance of this.

CPMH equality, diversity and inclusion lead

Mr Higgins, who is the CPMH’s equality, diversity and inclusion lead, said it was important for healthcare professionals to recognise that their status can confer an air of ‘privilege’, which can, in turn, lead to bias and power imbalances if left unchecked.

Bringing in people who have used services ‘symbolised an essential shift in the unequal power structures which often exists within mental health services’, he said. It also promotes innovation in services and helps create more balanced management plans, he pointed out.

Physiotherapists have a responsibility to provide service users with a platform which enables joint sharing opportunities, in order to avoid being tokenistic [Rory Higgins, CPMH]

Mr Higgins added: ‘The CPMH actively pursues equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives as a priority, in addition to being anti-discriminatory. We are delighted that this has position has now come to fruition and we look forward to identifying new group learning needs as result. The CPMH is honoured to role model psychologically informed practice.

‘Physiotherapists have a responsibility to provide service users with a platform which enables joint sharing opportunities, in order to avoid being tokenistic. However, it is important to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go with this.’

To register an interest or seek further information, email: Rory.Higgins@slam.nhs.uk

For more information about the CPMH, visit: https://cpmh.csp.org.uk

Helping to blaze a trail: the Physiotherapy Pain Association

Diarmuid Denneny, who is the Physiotherapy Pain Association's chair, said the network had involved people living with pain in its activities for a number of years.

‘We have done this on a more comprehensive basis for the past two years and now have had two executive members.

'We certainly would not reconsider having them now! And we would recommend other physiotherapy networks follow our lead,’ Mr Denneny added.

For more information about the PPA, visit: https://ppa.csp.org.uk

See also: https://www.physioupdate.co.uk/news/diarmuid-denneny-takes-the-plunge-to-back-creative-festival-on-living-with-persistent-pain

Author: Ian A McMillan
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