Meet Joy Hibbins - our Janey Antoniou 2018 Winner
Digital team's blog
Each year, Rethink Mental Illness present our Janey Antoniou Award to a campaigner with lived experience who has made an outstanding contribution to addressing stigma and improving the lives of people affected by mental illness. This year we are very proud to announce the winner is Joy Hibbins, who is celebrated for her work as the founder and CEO of the charity Suicide Crisis.
In this special blog, Joy talks about how her own experiences led to her setting up the charity and inform her campaigning work.
I experienced suicidal crisis after a traumatic event in 2012. The available services didn’t work for me, and it became clear to me that there was a need for an alternative crisis service for those of us who didn’t respond well to the approach of mental health services. I started to work on plans to set up a Suicide Crisis Centre.
Initially I encountered a lot of scepticism. I was a psychiatric patient who had recently been in suicidal crisis myself. I discovered that having a mental health diagnosis meant that some people would view me as being “less able”. However I knew there was such a strong need for a service like this, and that meant that I kept going, no matter how many barriers were placed in my way.
I wanted to set up a Suicide Crisis Centre where people at risk of suicide could come for appointments every day if they needed to, and if they were at imminent risk, they could stay there for several hours. However our first few clients showed us that we would need to provide more than that, if we wanted to keep all of them safe. It was clear in the first few weeks that not all clients would reach us – they may be so distressed or so traumatised that they could not leave the home, so we realised very quickly that we would need to provide home visits as well as a Crisis Centre.
The Suicide Crisis Centre has been providing services for five and a half years now. We have never had a suicide of a client under our care, whether they’ve been under our care for a period of days, weeks or months. For that reason, there has been national interest in our work and we have been invited to give evidence to the health select committee and to give a presentation about our work to the national advisory group which is chaired by the Government’s adviser on suicide.
Service users are often consulted by NHS managers before the managers set up new mental health or crisis services. However, there are so many people like me who will have new and innovative ideas and could put them into practice. It would be wonderful if we could nurture, encourage and champion them to do it themselves. The fact that we have lived experience should be seen as an additional qualification to do this kind of work – not a barrier.
I was extremely moved, honoured and grateful to receive the Janey Antoniou award.