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The murky light of dawn

V – Last time we talked, you were outlining a draft mental health strategy.

A – that’s right: broad brush and long term, but a coherent logic.

V – so how has it progressed since then?

A – I’ve presented it at two meetings.  The first was a consultation event with mainly senior professionals (though we’d been hoping for more service users).  The second was at the Health and Wellbeing Board as part of a larger session on mental health.

V – and the response?

A – the first was positive.  In principle.  But they identified lots of potential detailed problems.

V – things you can cope with?

A – mainly things we were already aware of, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to deal with them.

V – what about the second?  Did the Health and Wellbeing Board like it?

A – well … I’d say they were pretty underwhelmed, given the lack of comments and the looks on people’s faces, but-

V – I feel an excuse coming on.  You’re not going to get defensive are you?

A – maybe, but I think this is objectively what happened.  An already packed agenda and a previous speaker taking too long meant they were over-running horribly by the time it came to my slot.  The room was very hot and people visibly uncomfortable.

V – and don’t tell me, the hamster ate your notes and the chair was horrible to you?

A – not at all, he was a very nice man.  No, the other fault was mine – the text on the slides was too small to read.

V – So through circumstances and a little error, they were not well disposed towards you.  Was that all?

A – the other thing was that the previous speakers had been much more concrete, talking about specific services and changes.

V – so you think yours might have seemed abstract and airy fairy?

A – yes, although I’d hoped it might complement the others by providing a theoretical structure for them to fit into.

V – but it didn’t?

A – I’m really not sure.  I think perhaps it could but it’s still rather general.  Before this, I’d been really pleased at producing something I thought looked like a genuine strategy – a logic for a different approach to reach our aims.

V – but?

A – but in the meeting I started to wonder if it really was saying anything useful at all in the context of all that service detail.

V – so where to now?

A – well we had a planning meeting earlier in the week and we identified the key areas where we need more detail, who we need to speak to and what consultation we should do.  That includes joining up with various other mental health strategies and initiatives.

V – if this is the murky first light of dawn, what promise do you think the day holds?

A – It looks cloudy and shrouded in fog and it’s hard to know at the moment whether it’s going to turn into that monotonous, oppressive cloud or if the sun’s going to burn off the mist for a glorious day.

V – well let’s hope for the best and do be sure to come back and let me know what happens!

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