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Marsha's Story - A Dragon's Eye View!

Marsha has been a member of NewMind since 2016, during which time she has been an active and forthright advocate of the Service User voice in Mental Health research and the activities of the network. 

She has lived experience in both physical and mental health, managing a number of conditions including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Type 2 Diabetes, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. Her areas of interests are BPD, suicide prevention, and physical health conditions impacting on Mental Health.

This is her view on being involved with NewMind over the past three years.

In 2016 I was approached by the NewMind team to discuss being involved in a Dragon’s Den panel as a Service User Expert by Experience. They wanted to make sure that the voice of the Service User was featured throughout the process, starting with their Sandpit events right through to presenting at the Den. At my first Sandpit event I remember very clearly feeling way out of my depth and kept on thinking about how I would manage to keep up. The conversations that were being had were very intellectual and I wanted to make a fast exit. However, I am glad I stayed and went on to develop confidence in asking questions and encouraging others to use their voices too. At the initial Sandpit events we realised that there were some very passionate people in the mix with idea’s that they had, so how could we then encourage those that don’t say much to feel that their ideas counted. Chris Taylor, NewMind's Principal Investigator, would set the scene for the two days and then I reminded people that there was power in collaboration, and that by involving someone with lived experience from the outset could provide valuable focus, purpose, and insight. As for a Dragon, I guess I would say I was the 'Fierce Dragon'! I always asked where and when the patient/carer involvement began in the process. I would also ask about the Duty of Care, and if they were engaging with vulnerable groups in workshops 'what was the after care?', and 'what funding was there for recognition for time given etc?' The last three years being involved with Chris [Taylor], Dan [Morley], Carmel [Dickinson], John [Ainsworth], Shon [Lewis], Jennifer [Martin], Patrick [Gaydecki] and others has given me the confidence in myself to be able to ask questions without (too much!) self-doubt. It has given me insight into what co-production and collaboration really looks like, where you have service users and carers involved from the outset. I am going to miss being a Dragon and also being part of NewMind.

Marsha McAdamService User Expert by Experience

As well as being involved in the co-production of various services, Marsha is active in the Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Network 'Patients, Public and Carers Network', and was part of the Patient Voices 'Can You Hear What I Say?' digital storytelling initiative.

Marsha was also one of the driving forces behind the newly formed Greater Manchester Adult Mental Health Service User Network (@gm_amh)

You can follow Marsha on Twitter via @Marsha_MHAdvMcr