What does Equally Well UK mean to me? To start at the beginning I’ve been a member of the Equally Well UK Expert by Experience Group since its inception five years ago. If you’d like to know a little more about me, I’ve written a mini-biog at the base of this blog.

So back to the BIG QUESTION: what does Equally Well mean to me? In a nutshell: compassion, community, challenge, learning and innovation.

Compassion because its people like me – a long term mental health carer – professionals and “service users”/”clients” banding and building together as equals to try to reduce a cruel inequality: the 20 year mortality gap. I ask you: why should the person I love and care and support die 20 years earlier because he has a “serious mental health condition”.

Community. Equally Well to me means creating an active group of folk who understand the mental illness landscape, what needs to be done and how to do it; while at the same time staying patient, kind and respectful.

Challenge: Recognising that change can be slow – even one step forward, two steps back – but that the vision of standing firm to values like equality, equity and fairness for all stands sentinel.

Learning: Drilling down into the minutae of “reality” – remembering, recognising and respecting that each of us is a unique individual – learning from each other, and placing personalised care and a holistic approach centre stage, strategically.

Innovation: Creating – together – from the start/design of the project – with ideas in a way that both challenges and guarantees a longer life for everyone.

About Dr Sofija Opacic

Dr Sofija Opacic has been a mental health carer to someone she loves dearly since 2010. He has a complex, serious “mental health condition”. She uses her personal experiences of care (including advocacy and campaigning across health, community care, “welfare”, and housing systems); and professional skills (research and policy, media and public affairs) to “co-produce” projects (research, campaigns, resources, training, infographics) to help improve the lives of mental health carers and the people they love, care and support.