The Pocket Advocate
Digital team's blog
Danielle Singer Moore, Founder of The Pocket Advocate talks to us about why she started her project, how it can be a vital tool for people with mental illness and what she plans to do with it next.
The Pocket Advocate is a personalised, pocket-sized, portable guide that I designed in 2008, to manage my own mental health. In 2012 idea was awarded an innovation and development grant from Camden Council. We partnered with The James Wigg Practice, and ran a small pilot within Camden & Islington’s Mental Health Foundation Trust. We are now running an extended pilot with 100 people from a local mental health charity called The Hub.
Without the right intervention people become trapped in the devastating cycle of crisis and relapse, unable to fulfil their potential and live the life they truly deserve. The Pocket Advocate shows clearly that mental distress is manageable, and that with the right intervention the cycles of crisis and relapse can be prevented. It also shows that a person has the power to evaluate and take responsibility for the progression of their symptoms, andbecome respected as an equal voice in the management of their care.
Tatiane Feres, a film director, was inspired by the project and helped to make a promotional film. We wanted to feature people who had experienced crisis first-hand, or through someone they cared for. One of those people was my godfather, who always came to visit me when I was in hospital. The beauty of the film is that you don’t know who has a mental health condition, and who doesn’t. It doesn’t matter where you are from, or what your background is, mental health affects us all, and does not discriminate.
We were really fortunate to have some very special women involved, from an organisation called Clean Break. Clean Break offer theatrical training and support to women who have been in prison. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with them about their experiences. Their strength, wisdom and insight were inspirational.
When someone is really unwell they can behave aggressively, and sometimes violently. What a lot of people don’t know is that instead of receiving the psychiatric care they need, people can be placed in prison. This must be incredibly frightening and traumatic, especially if a person is experiencing extreme mental distress.
Earlier this year I met with WISH, a charity that support women entering and leaving the prison system, some of them have serious mental health conditions. We discussed how vulnerable these women are, and if The Pocket Advocate could offer some form of safety net for them.
Two weeks ago I held my first workshop with the women of WISH. We explored the common threads of our experiences, and how The Pocket Advocate could be used to communicate what is needed at times of vulnerability and crisis. It would be interesting to see how The Pocket Advocate could help to build their resilience, ability to reach out for support, and reduce the need for emergency intervention.
There are some other really exciting opportunities on the horizon. The University of Arts have asked me to adapt The Pocket Advocate for the needs of students, which we hope to pilot in the coming year. Several employers are keen to see if The Pocket Advocate could be used to support their staff with burnout and work related stress. In November I will be giving a talk to staff at the Wellcome.
It’s lovely to see The Pocket Advocate blossom. We have just launched a crowd funding campaign that we hope will enable us to support up to 400 people over the next 18 months. To find out more click here.
If The Pocket Advocate can help others in the way it has helped me then I must do everything I can to continue this work.
If you are inspired and want to help, please share our campaign and join us on Facebook and Twitter.