Mental Health Plan for Wales to Set Strategy over Coming 10 Years; National Mental Health Service User and Carer Panel Member Carina Edwards Looks Forward to the Welsh Government's Mental Health Strategy, Together for Mental Health, Which Is Published Today THE HAFAL VIEW COLUMN Carina Edwards Is Hafal's North Wales Regional Manager

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YOU have to be careful whom you listen to when you're recovering from serious mental illness.

While most mental health professionals have a positive outlook on recovery there are some who are not as receptive towards service users' aspirations as they should be.

For example, if I heeded the views of some of the well-meaning but negative people who were meant to have helped me with my recovery I don't think I'd be in employment now - I would probably be out of work and on mood stabilisers!

It's crucial to have a positive outlook when recovering from serious mental illness.

However sometimes the language used by mental health professionals doesn't help as it doesn't lend itself to positivity.

It's demoralising to be told, as I was, that I have a "severe and enduring mental illness".

My journey towards recovery has not been easy. It has been a struggle at times.

Sometimes the people who should have been the greatest help have not been at all helpful.

On one occasion I was called a 'silly girl' by a mental health professional when I asked to see my medical records after a short period of illness.

On another occasion I was told I was not ready for work even though I had worked full-time for years and returning to employment was, in my view, a better option than stagnating at home with nothing to do.

In my experience it's crucial that mental health service users have high aspirations for recovery and that they don't accept the limiting expectations set by some.

After all, it's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

A great example of this 'can-do' attitude took place in September when service users and staff from Bipolar UK, Hafal and the Mental Health Foundation took part in a symbolic climb of Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales. The climb ended this summer's Movin' On Up campaign in spectacular style and symbolised how service users want to achieve new heights in their empowerment by maximising the opportunities for recovery from serious mental illness provided by the Mental Health (Wales) Measure and the Welsh Government's mental health strategy, Together for Mental Health which is published today. …