Reflection: Conversation Cafe with Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt, 3rd November 2017

Heidi Reflection

“It’s exciting when those in power take notice of our work in mental health and this event gave all the partners from the Making Recovery Real in Moray programme just that opportunity.

You can read a full news story about the event on the Scottish Recovery Network’s website, but to add to this we have a few reflections from our Champions who attended and help run the event.

“Attending this event has given me the initative to seek out the help and tools that will help me on my journey of recovery and also to ensure I put the emphasis on myself first before family, as if I am not in a good and healthy frame of mind I would not be of use to my family and friends or even myself.”

Thank you to everyone for coming along to the event and sharing their ideas, debating what recovery means to them and exploring the table top discussions. We look forward to Maureen’s next official visit and hearing more about how our work could support change for wellbeing in Scotland.

When I arrived at the Harvest Centre, there were friends already there and the other participants from all the services in the area, that help people who struggle with mental health, with information stalls set up.   Vivien Hendry and I were asked to bring the “Yarn Bombed Bicycles” from this year’s Moray Feelgood Festival (these are bicycles covered in all various kinds of wool) to show some of our local creativity.

When Maureen Watt, MSP arrived her assistant introduced her to Mr Stevenson and other partners with information stalls, the Minister then went around the room speaking with each group of people at the stalls.  Robert Stevenson, who is the Network Officer of the Scottish National Recovery Services in Moray, addressed all who was in attendance and introducing the Minister who addressed everyone there stating she was looking forward to the afternoon.  This consisted of a Conversation Café which would be set up at 4 tables, which would have 4 rounds each lasting 20 minutes, with conversations at each table, would also have a table host who would facilitate the discussions and there would be a recorder who would note down all the comments which came from all participants in relation to the contents of CHIME, which consisted of: –

  • Connectedness
  • Hope and Optimism
  • Identity and Meaning
  • Empowerment

The afternoon was exceptionally eventful, where we all had thoughts and ideas, which some of us wrote on the paper tablecloths that adorned the tables. The conversations and the interactions between the members and the Minister were exciting, in that Maureen Watt MSP asked a lot of questions and got some excellent answers from everyone who was there.  We all moved to different tables over the afternoon, giving our opinions and answers where appropriate, and it was interesting to hear what she thought and what she could take back to the Parliament to discuss.

Fellow hub Champions were also involved – Heidi Tweedie assisted as a ‘Host’ at one table and Ewan Mathers took photographs on the day.  The Press & Journal newspaper came to cover the event throughout Moray.  At the end of the afternoon the Minister thanked everyone for their inputs and said she was glad she had attended.

Looking back on the event now, and reflecting on what occurred on the day, I found that I gained more insight into the values that we hold (as a Champion of the MWH), why it is important to attend and participate in events like these because it gives everyone the opportunity to create ‘change’  with the help of all who attended the events; that the more interactions we have with each other and MSP’s, the more chance we have across the country to be able to ‘alleviate the stigma of mental health’ for everyone which will eventually make a difference in  people, the communities, Scotland and hopefully the World sooner than later.


I was contacted the day before the event by my GP Link Worker asking me if I would like to attend.  She advised it would be a useful event for me for 2 reasons – firstly to give me some more tools to help me on my recovery and secondly it would be a good networking opportunity for me.  I advised I would happily attend the event.

On the morning of the event I was quite apprehensive about going but knew deep down it would be good for me to meet more people out with my comfort zone and make new connections.

I found the event very interesting and enlightening.  It was good to see the various groups that support people and their families who are trying to deal with any mental health issues.  During the group breakouts I found the input and thoughts of others really inspiring and found others could really relate to some of the issues and problems I have faced and that others are or have been dealing with the same or similar problems, and that there is and can be light at the end of the very dark tunnel that I have been travelling through.

Attending this event has given me the initative to seek out the help and tools that will help me on my journey of recovery and also to ensure I put the emphasis on myself first before family, as if I am not in a good and healthy frame of mind I would not be of use to my family and friends or even myself.  This is a hard one for me to actually do as I have always put my family first for the last 28 years and I am finding this a challenging exercise, but after attending this event it gave me the knowledge and courage to feel less guilty about putting me first.

Attending this event has given me a renewed energy to not only help to “fix” myself but it has shown me some new areas and tools that I can use to try and help others, not just those who have a mental health illness.  Through the discussions, I found things have done in the past as a coping mechanism or even putting on a “mask” so others wouldn’t see if I was worried or suffering.

From attending this event it has meant that I have signed up to attend other mental health workshops to make me more knowledgeable of how other people may be feeling and giving me the tools and coping mechanisms to help them.


I attended the SRN Conversation Cafe event at the harvest centre In Elgin on Friday. Chris and I arrived late as we were facilitating Living Life To The Full in Buckie.  I felt it was a very well organised and a well-facilitated event.

It felt exciting to rub shoulders with the minister for mental health and I felt very proud to be a champion of the Moray wellbeing Hub. A  high proportion of Champions from the Moray Wellbeing Hub turned out and I experienced fellow Champions being very vocal in the roundtable discussions. A great event.


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