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Birmingham Mental Health Living Experience Consultant receives an OBE from the Duke of Cambridge

Published: 27/11/2019

An inspirational Serious Mental Illness Living Experience Consultant and service user at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) was awarded an OBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 19 November.

Steve Gilbert, who grew up in the Maypole area of the West Midlands has been recognised for his work as Vice Chair for the Independent Mental Health Act Review. Former Prime Minister, Teresa May requested this review in 2017 and it was led by Sir Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital.

Steve Gilbert
Steve Gilbert, OBE

The review was prompted by a number of factors including an increase in the number of people detained under the Act and the need to address racial inequalities. Steve’s own personal experiences of serious mental illness, including periods of depression, suicide attempts, and hospitalisation, as well as his ability to lead a group of service users and carers and his work on mental health in the region led to him being invited to be part of the review.

Steve says:

“It was surreal when I heard I was receiving and OBE – I’m just a lad from the Maypole!  Receiving it was the proudest day of my life and I will treasure the memory for ever.

“I’m so pleased that I can use my living experience to help bring about positive change.

“It was so important to me to contribute to the review to improve the care provided. We need to ensure that when people are detained it is for therapeutic benefit and for the shortest possible period of time, ensuring that a person is discharged at the right time and into the right package of care and treatment. Above all, it is vital that those who are detained are treated with dignity and respect.

“What I’m most proud of is that when I look back over the review report I can see my work and the areas I have led on.

“I must thank Dr Thomas, Associate Specialist Psychiatrist and Joanne Cole, Clinical Lead at Northcroft Community Mental Health Team, BSMHFT for their continued care and support. Jo is quite simply fantastic! I am truly thankful for all that she has done for me.

“I must also thank Catherine Harper, an incredible person who is the reason I’m alive. Catherine has provided me with care, friendship and safety, and supported me through thick and thin.”

As well as working on the Independent Mental Health Act Review, Steve is a Trustee for Mind and has previously served as the regional Service User Representative for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and as a member of the West Midlands Executive Committee.

He has also worked with Time to Change on the 300 Voices programme aiming to improve outcomes for young African Caribbean men with mental health problems who come into contact with statutory mental health services and the police.

In November 2015, he was appointed to the West Midlands Combined Authority Mental Health Commission as a Serious Mental Illness – Living Experience Consultant to ensure that the interests of people affected by poor mental health were kept at the heart of the work.

Sue Hartley, Executive Director of Nursing said “Congratulations to Steve. He fully deserves this honour. He has faced and continues to face many challenges and it is of great benefit to others that he has used his lived experience of mental ill health to contribute to the Independent Mental Health Act Review as well as to support many regional organisations. I have the greatest respect and admiration for him and wish him well with all of his future plans.”