One in Four magazine, the only national magazine written by people with mental health difficulties, for people with mental health difficulties and those that know them, has reached its second birthday. No longer a newborn babe, it’s now a creature that walks and talks for itself and makes an ever-increasing amount of noise doing so.
From the birth of the magazine in a greasy spoon café, through the process of consultation and planning to the hard work that puts every issue into your hands and the hands of people like you, One in Four has had three guiding principles: information, aspiration and hope.
But what have the last two years held? Just what has One in Four done to change minds since it arrived in summer 2008?
Our first issue led with an interview with Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former prime minister of Norway. Bondevik told One in Four of his surprising experience of public understanding. After experiencing a reactive depression, he found himself unable to carry out his prime ministerial duties. Instead of hiding this, he was honest with his colleagues and the Norwegian media. This resulted in greater popularity for him. Also featured were award-winning blogger Seaneen Molloy’s exploration of the difference between being unhappy and unwell; Mark Brown exploring employment and the challenges involved; Jo Worsley and Cecilia d’ Felice discussing how to get the best from talking therapies and an incredible article about family relationships written by the wife of a man diagnosed with schizophrenia talking very openly about how they make their relationship work.
With the recession still a troubling cloud on the horizon, our second issue cover story, ‘Life after debt’, looked at ways of minimising the impact debt and money troubles might have on your mental health. This issue also saw one of the few articles about smoking and mental health that accepted that for many with mental health difficulties smoking is a fact of life. This was the first appearance of Laurie Penny, a young journalist with mental health difficulties herself who would become One in Four’s staff writer from winter 2008. Suzan Arisoy explored the realities of being a parent with mental health difficulties while Huw Davies examined at the options for continuing education while looking after yourself at the same time. Following on from the previous issue, Cecilia d’Felice asked the question: ‘How do you know you’re getting good therapy?’ and caused a minor controversy by saying that therapy should never be painful, a point on which a number of therapists disagreed. Rounding off the issue Mark Brown examined the subject of mental health in parliament.
Looking forwards, this issue explored some of the things that were coming up in 2009, including changes to benefits. At the time, we got it in the neck from a number of people for refusing to criticise changes to disability benefits, such as the introduction of Employment Support Allowance, before those changes were implemented. Then, as now, our answer was that One in Four isn’t a campaigning organisation; it’s a magazine that gives practical advice and inspiring stories.
Seaneen Molloy guided us through the festive season. Her sage advice? “Winter never lasts forever, annoying relatives go home and embarrassing gift jumpers often keep you warmer than you’d think”. Laurie Penny spoke to a man who had used NHS mental health services in Worcester for 37 years and who had decided to stand for the board of governors for the local mental health partnership trust. The cover story by Alex Williams was advice about making sure that you have a secure place to live that contained the immortal line: “You’d be surprised how difficult it is for a woman to pee in the sink.”
It’s interesting to see that there is a tiny mention of major campaign Time to Change in the ‘Coming in 2009′ article, and the first appearance of a certain public figure…
… who reappeared at greater length in the spring 2009 issue. Alastair Campbell, former Downing Street director of communications gave an interview to One in Four where he spoke his own mental health difficulties. His muscular take on mental health fitted with Richard Tyrone Jones’ cover article about men and mental health: “Personally I write poetry which helps me get emotionally on top of things – but it’s not all boring crap about cats and sunsets”. Seaneen Molloy gave us the lowdown on her five favourite mental health blogs and Mark Brown and Laurie Penny explored the issue of religion and mental health. Also featured were healthy food courtesy of Laurie Penny and ways of keeping safe in your community from Alex Williams.
The summer issue featured possibly the best headline so far, ‘Side effects and the city’, for Seaneen Molloy’s article about relationships, sex, medication and mental health. Also featured was an article about people with mental health difficulties running services for themselves that included a seven-step guide to starting a project of your own. Jo Worsley wrote about how to make best use of your GP, and an interview with Melba Wilson of Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health that sat alongside coverage of the launch of the National Survivor User Network’s report, ‘Dancing to our own tunes’, about race and ethnicity in mental health services.
After giving the benefit programme six months to bed in, this issue also returned to the then still new Employment Support Allowance and actually spoke to people about the experience of claiming it and undertaking the process of examinations and interviews involved.
Autumn 2009 featured a couple of firsts. We managed to scoop the first major interview with Time to Change director, Sue Baker, since she took up the role and the issue featured a mental health media roundtable when people with mental health difficulties sharpened their tongues and took on some of the materials produced by campaigning organisations, including Time to Change. The comments of the panel showed that campaigning messages often don’t connect with people with direct experience of mental health difficulty. In her interview, Sue Baker took great pains to address some of the misgivings that people with mental health difficulties had felt about Time to Change and spoke of her own experiences of mental ill health. Also featured were Laurie Penny on treatment side effects, Richard Tyrone Jones taking on university life in robust style and Hanne Olsen exploring the minefield that is getting the right outfit for the right occasion.
As it became clear the credit crunch had grown into a fully-fledged recession, the winter 2009 issue featured on its cover a big red cartoon ‘D’ with a gun saying hello courtesy of cartoonist Steve Wasserman of Prozacville , to illustrate Dan Holloway’s article about dealing with debt inside. Also featured was coverage of twitter’s ‘welovetheNHS’ campaign, and two excellent interviews. The first was with Robert Villanueva, a US mental health activist who explained how different things are in the US for people with mental health difficulties. The second was with veteran of Mental Patients Union, Andrew Roberts, who discussed how far life has come in the UK in the last 50 years for people with mental health difficulties.
One in Four wasn’t immune from election fever and the spring 2010 edition tried to help all voters see where the major political parties stood on the issue of mental health and public spending. The magazine also featured a write up of One in Four’s first conference ‘Talking about mental health – getting it right’ in February and featured Alastair Campbell, the former health editor of The Sun and a number of others, including an incredible panel discussion with Laurie Penny, Seaneen Molloy, Dan Holloway and Aloyse Raptapoulos. Further highlights from this issue include Karen Machin’s affecting article ‘Don’t stop talking’ about suicide and Laurie Penny on the benefits and drawbacks of diagnosis.
Eight groundbreaking issues to be followed by many more. One in Four thanks everyone who has helped us get this far. Without you, our readers and supporters, none of this would have happened.