Member groups involved in the #123GP campaign for better mental health expertise among GPs held a campaign workshop in Draperstown on 14 October 2017. The workshop, attended by over 30 people from 7 different member groups, was hosted by STEPS, one of the member groups.  Lynda McEldowney from STEPS reflects on the behind the scenes work involved in making the day a success, as well as the benefits of groups coming together to campaign collectively.

Having met up with Sara from PPR a few times to plan the day in the lovely Mauds Parlour, I had imagined there would be approximately 10 people coming to our wee STEPS office to recap on the work we’d done since our previous meeting at the Elk, Toomebridge in April.

As the acceptances came back from the invitees & the numbers kept creeping up I began to realise that our office would burst at the seams so a quick call to the local school to book a different venue & we were good to go.

I was a bit overwhelmed that so many people were willing to travel to Draperstown on a Saturday morning to come & discuss the campaign. How amazing is it that there are so many people from all over N.I. that have the common goal of raising more awareness of mental health and having the desire to help change the current situation?!

In the morning I was rushing about like a headless chicken getting organised and I was happy to see a few familiar faces arriving but when the bus load landed from Belfast I was feeling a bit nervous, having to stand up in front of over 30 people to introduce myself and STEPS. I needn’t have worried as they were all ready and willing to get their teeth stuck into the campaign goals (as well as the scrumptious food Donna had prepared).

As part of STEPS I have taken part in a few campaigns but to come together like this with the other groups and work as one, we are “one big voice shouting together”.

The highlights of the day were recapping, power mapping and creating a focus to drive the campaign forward. We came up with the hashtag #123GP to stir up a social media storm to grab some attention and have the powers that be see that we want changes. What do we want? We want better Mental Health Expertise in GP surgeries, better usage of funding and more training!

It was a pretty busy day but I felt proud and optimistic about what we hope to achieve over the next 12 months. Since GP’s are our first port of call when we're ill, we need to feel confident that they can consistently address our mental health needs.