Kevin Gardner Hello blog

Monday, 3 April 2017

Welcome to the first post on my new blog!

Firstly, let me say how great it feels to have joined Solent Mind as the new Chief Executive. Since my appointment in November, I have been struck by the number of people who have told me of the contact they have had with our organisation and the high regard in which we are held. It has also been really interesting how, when hearing of my move to a post in the mental health field, others have spoken to me about their own lived experience. Sometimes this involves a sister or brother, sometimes it is a spouse, a parent or child. I'm sure that, like me, many of you will have heard that every year one in four people suffers a diagnosable mental health problem. My experience in recent weeks has left me needing no further convincing that that statistic is true.

But I also sense things are beginning to change…..Awareness of mental illness is growing, public attitudes are changing, and stigma is reducing, with more and more figures in public life openly sharing their experiences. Hardly a day goes by now without mental health featuring in the daily news agenda.  While continuing austerity and the uncertainty created by Brexit will present challenges, the Government's acceptance of the Five Year Forward View for mental health, gives a once in a generation opportunity for partners across the mental health system to work in a more integrated way to bring about better outcomes for service users.

Which all adds up to a very bright future for Solent Mind. Our passion and values, sound reputation, high professionalism, good governance and financial control, close community ties and the richness of lived experience at our core, mean we are excellently placed to bring our influence to bear and help shape the future.

That's not to say that we can't change and improve to face the challenges ahead - there will always be room for this. During the coming weeks I will be visiting our different work bases so that I can meet, and spend some quality face-to-face time with, our staff, trustees, members, volunteers and service users.  I will also be meeting key partners and stakeholders. At these meetings I’ll be keen to hear from people what we do well, where we could do better, and respond to any questions. I will share more about my own background, motivation and what I hope we can achieve together. Over the weeks ahead I'll be building a picture from the responses which I will share in a future blog post.

Speak again soon,

Kevin