By Martin White
It always feels like some kind of Progress, and it makes me feel excited about future possibilities. Especially the possibility of Change.
I’m talking of course about when you walk into a room in which professionals and lay people are busy working together, discussing ideas, swapping views, exchanging information about both general facts and personal experiences. A social situation in which the urgency and purpose of personal anecdote mingles comfortably with reflective professional opinion. A glimpse of a society in which the mutual respect of citizens is a given social norm a society in which academic knowledge and discipline places itself at the service of people with pressing needs to engineer a better world, a more healthier world. For everybody. I’m that excited.
I’m talking of course about the process of collaborating for the public’s health and I’m talking about my experience of joining the advisory board for the University of Exeter Medical school DeSTRESS project advisory board for the first time. I was nearly overwhelmed by how the issues under discussion helped to crystallise my own thinking based on my experiences of working alongside communities as an employee in local health promotion and community education public services. Over the years I have found myself preoccupied by questions about where does responsibility for our behaviour lie and wondering to what extent are the feelings we have about ourselves shaped by forces beyond our control. The DeSTRESS project aims to understand how people cope with stress caused by loneliness, no worthwhile work and poor quality housing and the experiences they have when approaching healthcare services looking for help. The agenda was no less exciting. Together we discussed the findings from focus groups and interviews and then watched video recordings of GP consultations which led to the prescribing of anti-depressants.
I am already looking forward to the next meeting.