Debbie Ramskill, Interim Head of Service – ‘Service users are the drivers for service change’


Debbie Ramskill from the mental health and physical impairment service talks about how service users make change a reality. Also on how we can all get together to change stigma and raise awareness around mental health. After all it’s World Mental Health Week!  

Hi Debbie, can you tell me a little bit about what you do?

I have responsibility for a variety of services such as day provision, accommodation services including respite and crisis care, and the homeless team. I also have responsibility for two resource centres for people who have a physical impairment.

That sounds like it might keep you busy?

Yes, it keeps me going.

How did you come to work in the mental health team?

I worked in older people’s service and learning disabilities for 25 years.  I really enjoyed working in these areas especially during the independent living project where my experience with the mental health service started.  This job came up, I thought it would be a great challenge and the rest is history.  This has been a fantastic period in my career with great support from the service users, management team and front line staff.

Clearly you enjoy your job, what makes it so interesting?

For me, it’s the service users.  Changing services to help people towards recovery, stay well, build up resilience, access services when needed and providing a clear pathway for people which gives them more independence. Lovell Park is a prime example of this changing from a community base to the Hub, and signposting services to support the local community. 

Also offering volunteering with the possibility of employment, seeing such change in someone is very rewarding.  A shining example is Gareth from Lovell Park.           

What do you think the main challenges are for the council, for you and your team?

The major challenge is the budget but at the same time providing the best quality service we possibly can.  We are always going to be under pressure because we are one of a few major providers of mental health services in Leeds, so yes definitely the main challenge is being in a position to work in collaboration to provide the best possible services and outcomes for the people of Leeds.             

Can you tell me about ‘World Mental Health Day’. What is it and what are we doing to mark it here in Leeds?

This year, World Mental Health Day is on Thursday 10th October and the emphasis is on mental health and older adults. Adult Social Care is hosting an event at the Civic Hall between 11 am and 3 pm which is open to everyone.  There will be market stalls, life stories, live music and more. Many voluntary sector organisations will be joining us to celebrate and raise awareness of mental illness, isolation, loneliness and the stigma sometimes associated with this. 

We need to ensure good mental health through lifestyle choices, social connections, overall wellbeing and active citizenship.

What do you think people fear about mental health?

The stigma that is sometimes associated with it. Finding out about and sometimes accessing services and support can be seen as a weakness.  

Can you describe the people you work with (frontline) in 3 words?

Thinking about the Mental Health Advisory Board (made up of staff, service users, commissioners, health & voluntary sector representatives and elected members), who took a lead role in transforming the way we deliver day provision, I would say co-productive, understanding and creative.

If you had a magic wand and could change something in your area what would it be?

I would just like everyone to have a really good experience of using our services.

Do you have any personal experience (you family/friend) of mental health?

I think the majority of people will be touched by mental health at somepoint, if not through first-hand experience. I have experienced mental health through a family member. It makes you want to ensure that good quality support is easily accessible at a time when people need it.

Thanks you again for talking to me, see you at the event on Thursday.

Remember if you are free on Thursday 10th October, why not come and have some fun and show your support. We’ll be at Leeds Civic Hall from 11am to 3pm.

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
This entry was posted in Carers, Choice, Health and Wellbeing, Independence, Information, Mental Health, Nutrition, Social Isolation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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