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The Deepest Cut by Natalie Flynn – Blog Tour (Author Interview) 


I picked up a copy of The Deepest Cut by Natalie Flynn at YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention that takes place at London Film and Comic Con) last year. When the lovely Karen at Accent Press told me that it had been nominated for The Lancashire Book of the Year Award I jumped at the chance to find out what such a nomination meant to the author. 

Interview with Natalie Flynn 

For me, there were certain milestones that I’d always dreamed about in my writing career: Finishing a book, finding an agent, getting a book deal, being reviewed. There’s one I’d always thought I’d like to happen, but didn’t let myself think about too much, and that was being nominated/shortlisted for an award. 
When I heard from my lovely publicist Karen about the LBOY shortlisting, it was late on a Friday afternoon and I didn’t take it all in straight away. Over the weekend, I kept randomly bursting out “I’ve been shortlisted for an award” in utter amazement. It is amazing. It’s the ultimate seal of approval.
The Deepest Cut is a story that will always mean a lot to me. It began its life as a play in 2011. The novel adaptation wasn’t easy to write. It went through lots of ideas and lots of drafts before it became what it is today. But in all those drafts, I was always writing with my audience in mind – teenagers. Adam’s story is for them. To inspire them, give them hope, make them laugh and, hopefully, raise awareness of the tragic consequences of knife crime. 
The LBOY awards are decided on solely by the teens I wrote this story for, so the fact they’ve connected with it deeply enough to shortlist me for their award is the best feeling in the world. It makes all those late nights, frustrating editing days, moments of almost giving up on it totally worth it. I’m so proud to be on the LBOY 2017 shortlist and I can’t wait to go to Preston to meet these fantastic teens who put me there. Roll on July! 

Synopsis 

The opening of this story is a powerful one and does needs a trigger warning as it starts with our protagonist Adam attempting suicide. Following the event his period of recovery in a mental health unit sees him trying to find his voice after the trauma leaves him mute. 

Adam is immediately engaging and evokes empathy. He thinks he is to blame for his friend’s death but we see a young man full of anguish and unable to express it. 

The opening few chapters will make me even more angry if I hear the term man up being used to prevent boys and men from displaying emotion. Flynn portrays an excellent debunking of what mental health units are like. 

The award ceremony is next week on 8th July and I wish Natalie all the luck. Thanks for taking the time to share with us what even the shortlisting means to you. 

#TimetoTalk – Feb 6th 2014

Every year in my unit I use a fun creative activity to explore the concept of task analysis, activity analysis and occupational mapping. I call it the monster mash. This year I incorporated #TimetoTalk and we made monsters that either represented how mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety feel, or monsters that might help chase those feelings away.

Here is my monster which represents how depression can feel like a fog around you. The red cheeks are the embarrassment you can feel when sharing experiences of mental ill health and the purple buttons the concept of feeling stared at or observed warily. I briefly shared my own experiences with depression.
On the positive side the purple gems represent the glimmers of hope that we can cling to. Finally the geek badge is shining through the fog because it is no longer something that contributes to depressive feelings. I’m proud of my geek status and taking part in geeky activities helps my mood.

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Did you have Time to Talk about mental health today?

Tweeting from #UDMH2011 a CPD opportunity for me and #OT ?

Tweeting from #UDMH2011 a CPD opportunity for me and #OT ?

Today I attended the new University Department of Mental Health’s first conference: ‘Engagement in Life: Promoting Wellbeing in Mental Health’ and I was inspired and frustrated in equal measure. The buzzword used throughout was recovery and it was highlighted that this word often means different things to clinicians and service users. For example with anorexia nervosa, recovery is often measured by clinicians in terms of weight gain, restarting menstruation etc when for a number of service users weight gain has been and is still is associated with failure (see tweets from Ciaran Newell’s session). The service user turned peer support worker who opened discussed a plateau in recovery when without having something to do symptom relief alone is all but meaningless (my analysis). This also links to the ideas of the perils of recovery, something that is often under acknowledged which may lead to lower recovery rates. Now I’m not going to rehash everything that I heard here because I live tweeted during the conference sessions. A lone tweeter on this occasion. I used the hashtag #UDMH2011 so please search out this on twitter or a collation sire such as whatthetrend.

So, what did I find inspiring. Terry Bowyer’s eloquently presented story of his path to recovery and the fact that all of the presenters after him showed that health professionals are finally getting and acting on this message about the importance of working towards what the client sees as important and giving them hope that things will change.

But what was frustrating is that as Occupational Therapists this has been our guiding philosophy for years so why is it not us leading this debate? It was a nursing researcher colleague of mine who has worked with OTs in the past that asked in one of the concurrent sessions can the suggestions from CHIME and REFOCUS (see hashtag timeline for more detail and speaker info) not be mapped to occupational science models. Of course they can. Three elements of the REFOCUS model for example were ‘Understand Value, Assess Strengths and Support Goal Striving’. Immediately I can see that CMOP-E, MOHO, KAWA and the new to me Model of Creative Ability (http://www.otstudent.info/home/models/model-of-creative-ability) would all address this.

Take the CMOP-E (Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement) for example, which was developed alongside CPPF (Canadian Practice Process Framework) and the CMCE (Canadian Model of Client-Centred Enablement) (Turpin and Iwama, 2011). A client’s spirituality (which includes their values, beliefs, desires etc) is as the centre , the person is assessed in terms of both their deficits and strengths in relation to Affective, Cognitive and Physical Skills (along with their environment and their occupational performance in self-care, productivity and leisure activities. Goal setting is something to be agreed between client and therapist and if using the COPM tool (Canadian Occupational Performance Measure) they re framed under occupational performance headings rather than symptom related ones (Turpin and Iwama, 2011).

So the question remains, why when our theory and philosophy matches current thinking in Mental Health care are we not leading this revolution and how now can we ensure that our role is recognised and valued during the ongoing process of proposed NHS reform. Of course recovery depends on health professionals working together so we need to highlight our profession’s unique role in this process. There are no clear cut answers and I’d be interested to hear your views but here are some of my personal suggestions.
Encourage explicit implementation of occupational therapy models in practice (whichever works best for your setting or indeed each individual client). Share this with your MDT colleagues.
Research, publish and disseminate not only at OT conferences but setting related or medical or at any conferences where we can raise the profile of our profession (I need to take note of this to).
Promote, promote, promote OT, talk about it whenever you have an opportunity to anyone and everyone you meet.

As a lone tweeter did I feel I wasted my time? It’s true I got a little hand cramp and I’m not going to lie it is hard to multitask and I inevitably lost the track of the talks at times. But I have followers who aren’t OTs and hopefully something will have made its way into their consciousness whilst scanning my tweets. After all societal stigma and misunderstanding of mental health conditions is one of the challenges to recovery. But what tweeting did was make me think about what were some of the key messages and summarise these into concise 140 character tweets (minus the characters needed fir #UDMH2011). I can now go back and collect these tweets as a lasting record which is far more legible than my handwriting.

Now as the HPC audit of CPD fast approaches I would like to ask my Twitter/Blog/Facebook followers or friends a favour. If you’re not an OT I hope you didn’t find the influx of messages too annoying, can you tell me if you learnt anything or if anything struck you on reading/scanning the tweets?
If you are an OT, for a CPD activity for your own audit, either having already read the timeline for #UDMH2011 or taking the time to review it now, reflect on what you learnt or picked up that you might be able to implement in your practice, what insight it gave you to making sense of past experiences etc. Please share them with me in the comments in the blog being sure to maintain confidentiality (I moderate comments and will not approve comments that break this so no patient identifiable information). I look forward to seeing some of your responses to the key messages from the sessions I attended.

I will be live and delayed tweeting/blogging from both the College Of Occupational Therapists conference 29th/30th June/1st July and the Occupational Science Conference in Plymouth on 8th/9th September. Before these events I will put up a timetable of the sessions I am attending so you can follow my tweets on those you are interested in.
Sadly the COT session on tweeting was cancelled but if you were planning to attend session 115 and you are interested in meeting up informally please let me know.

Thanks for reading and hopefully reflecting, even if it’s only on one or two points.

Kirsty

Reference
Turpin, M. and Iwama, M. K. 2011. Using Occupational Therapy Models in Practice: a field guide. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/ Elsevier.

Useful Resources
100 ways to support recovery http://www.mentalhealthshop.org/document.rm?id=8914
REFOCUS project http://www.researchintorecovery.com/refocus/refocusprogramme.html

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