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Posted on May 11 2022 by Fiona Bailey

Day two of the county’s first mental health festival was a busy day with St Andrew’s Healthcare staff out in full force.

Clinical Consultant Psychologist Dr Charlotte Staniforth took to the stage first to discuss trauma-informed care, and how childhood experience can impact the brain’s development.

Also a St Andrew’s Research Fellow, she told attendees that the “memory and the brain are amazingly powerful, particularly when it comes to trauma. The body can have a very visceral reaction to trauma.”

Charlotte also explained about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, which was first published in 1998. The study was the first large scale project to look at the relationship between ten categories of adversity in childhood and health outcomes in adulthood.

She presented some of the findings, which suggested that higher exposure to some of the ACEs, such as abuse and neglect in childhood, increases the risk for health problems in later life.

Later on that afternoon Catherine Vichare, Clinical Director of St Andrew’s Community Partnerships Service, led an intimate conversation with the audience about how her team support veterans.

She was joined by Phil Credland, who sought help for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the pandemic after having hit “rock bottom”.

The former Sergeant Major who fought for his country for 22 years has credited St Andrew’s Healthcare for “bringing him back to life".

Speaking to Headfest attendees, he said: “I had become an alcoholic and my drinking gradually got worse until May 2020, when I stopped eating or drinking anything other than vodka.

"I was drinking three litres of vodka a day, everyday. I was so close to dying, I had lost more than six stone in weight and - looking back - it’s frightening at what very nearly happened to me. If I can help just one person by being here today and sharing my story, then it has all been worth it.”

Indeed, one man spoke up from the audience and said he had been trying to get the help he needed, but had failed. Catherine and his team talked to him afterwards and have signposted him to the relevant support.