Recovery Across Mental Health (formerly Renfrewshire Association for Mental Health) is an independent voluntary sector organisation that aims to enable people to recover from mental ill health and to promote wellbeing. This year RAMH is celebrating 25 years of providing support and is running a £25,000 appeal for 2015. Michael McEwan speaks to Karen Milne who tells us more about the organisation and launch of the celebrations.
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Recovery Across Mental Health (formerly Renfrewshire Association for Mental Health) is an independent voluntary sector organisation that aims to enable people to recover from mental ill health and to promote wellbeing. This year RAMH is celebrating 25 years of providing support. Michael McEwan speaks to Karen Milne who tells us more about the organisation and launch of the celebrations.
MM Okay, now we are joined by Karen Milne from RAMH. RAMH is a mental health charity. Now first of all Karen, what is RAMH?
KM RAMH stands for the Renfrewshire Association for Mental Health – but actually we changed our name a few years ago because our services are much broader than just Renfrewshire now, so we support Renfrewshire, East Ren, South Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire – but the majority of our services are in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.
MM So what services can you provide?
KM Well we help people recover from mental ill health and we help them build independent and fulfilled lives. We do that in 6 ways – we provide crisis support for emergencies, we provide individualised care and support at home, helping people maintain their tenancies and making sure that they are socially connected. We have day services which includes a Gardening Group, Men Shed, Women's Group, Exercise Classes – we have got a counselling service for young people and adults. We also support carers and we provide education and information to help overcome the stigma and misconceptions that still exist around mental health.
MM Now you mentioned this earlier on, but just to understand, is RAMH open to everyone in Scotland?
KM Well our services are predominantly in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, but anybody can come to us – and if we are not able to help them, then we are able to signpost them to their services in their local area.
MM So this is a big year for RAMH because they are celebrating 25 years. So tell us more about the kind of background over their 25 years and also tell us a bit about the events coming up?
KM Yes, of course, the organisation was formed in the 70's, but actually in 1990 we started to provide the first services. And it was a small organisation, cautiously providing mental health services. But over the years we have grown and grown – we now employ about 200 staff and we provide 250,000 hours of face to face support to people in the West of Scotland every single year. So you get a sense that we are really quite a big charity now. To celebrate 25 years of service provision we have got an appeal for £25,000 – we would like to raise that this year in 2015, so we are asking everyone to get involved and to either go away and run their own event or to get involved in events that we are organising – for example we have got a dinner and quiz in May, on Friday 15th May, at the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew, and we are also doing a White Water Rafting Challenge on 29th August – that is up in Aberfeldy. I think you definitely are keen to do that one, aren't you Michael?
MM Eh, well, yeah, maybe!
KM It's going to be a good day out anyway, a lot of fun. And we have got some fabulous supporters in and around the local area, so we are encouraging them to help us in our special year.
MM So what is so special about RAMH? Because there are a lot of different mental health charities out there – why does RAMH kind of stick out?
KM Yes, for me – RAMH stands for Recovery Across Mental Health, and that's really what we are doing – we are helping people rebuild their lives and to become independent and to lead fulfilled lives with a good quality of life. That's what is different for me. While we provide crisis support, we are also very, very focused on empowering the individual and enabling them to rebuild their lives so that they are happy and moving forward in a sustainable way.
MM Have you ever heard of successful stories, like people come in here and not have any confidenct, to going out and finding a job and not needing your support?
KM Yes, there are lots of examples of those actually – probably most recently, when we launched our 25th anniversary celebrations, a guy came forward and said “do you know, if it wasn't for RAMH, I wouldn't be here, and now I have a family and I have a full time job and my quality of life is really high”. But years previously, when he came to us, he didn't have that … you know, that kind of support or those resources, and his life has totally changed as a result of the support RAMH was able to provide. So he's feeling very empowered, very enabled, and I think that's a terrific success story.
MM So how can people join RAMH if they are listening to this, and they think “wow this is a wonderful organisation” – now can people get involved?
KM The easiest way is to go onto the website which is www.ramh.org or you can find us on Facebook at ramh.org, or on Twitter on ramh_scotland. Or you can call us here … can I give the phone number?
MM Yes, yes.
KM It's 0141 847 8900. And yes, ask for a free fundraising pack and we will get you involved.
MM And basically, looking forward to maybe next year or even 6 months down the line, where do you see RAMH going? How many people do you support at the moment and do you want to expand to help more people?
KM Yes, the £25,000 that we have launched the appeal for, that will really help us develop our services and maintain them going forward for the next 25 years. 1 in 4 people in Scotland are affected by mental ill health and we want to help those people earlier on in the process – so the focus is on early intervention, because when we intervene early, there is a better chance of success. And you know, before problems get really out of control we need to get involved, and to offer people the support that they deserve – so that's what we would like to achieve.
MM So how does, as I mentioned earlier on about how people can join RAMH – but can people get referred to RAMH from like a doctor or …
KM You don't need a GP referral – you can come to us and tell us what you are experiencing and we will help you. So there is no need to go via the GP's. Again, if you call or email then we can signpost you to the right service. The phone number is 0141 847 8900 and the email address is email@example.com
MM So just finally, is it open to a whole wide range of people with mental health?
KM Yes, anyone and everyone – we support diagnosis from anxiety to depression, bipolar to schizophrenia – so we are able, we have the expertise and we have the resources to help a really wide range of mental health issues.
MM And just finally, I always ask people about who I am interviewing and stuff like that – but what do you think of the stigma of mental health in Scotland? Do you think it's getting better or could it get better or could it get worse? Do we have to do more work around this?
KM We have got some fantastic national mental health ambassadors, for example Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax – and of course the tragic loss last year of actors like Robin William and Philip Seymour Hoffman, I think has put mental health on the agenda politically and socially, which is a really good thing. It is still, for many people, a bit of a taboo subject, and we want to change that – we want to make it totally accessible and normal, because it is experienced by so many people.
MM Okay, that's brilliant, thanks Karen.
KM Thanks Michael.
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