Our Health Professionals Panel is focussing on mental health, their broad experience covers
Join us and watch the live discussion led by presenter Alastair Greener, times to be confirmed.
Laura Johnson– Gained a First Class Honours degree in Mental Health Nursing, and now works in both the NHS and the independent sector.
Reach member Laura has symbrachydactyly which affects her right hand. As a child with a limb difference, “I always noticed the ‘looks’ and comments from other children and adults and this made me feel extremely uncomfortable and it made me feel like I was different in a negative way“
I am a member of Reach Charity and I am also a member of numerous limb difference groups across Facebook and I have the title ‘visual storyteller’ meaning that I share content that gains a lot of engagement from readers. I contribute as a member by sharing my story and supporting parents of children with upper limb differences by answering questions, providing advice and guidance, and by giving them hope and reassurances with positive words of wisdom as growing up with a limb difference provides a unique perspective on how to adapt successfully through the many challenges of childhood.
Laura is extremely passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion, “I believe that children are our future and we should do our best to help them in every way; to enable them to strive and have good mental health and wellbeing.”
Clara Price– A qualified Occupational Therapist since 2015. Having worked in inpatient mental health from 2015-2019, Clara trained to be a PIP assessor, and now works in adult social services as an OT in a physical disabilities /older persons locality.
Clara is missing 3 fingers on her left hand since birth, an operation at 18 months removed 3 nubs and took bones from her toes into her fingers.
Sally Siggs– Is an education Mental Health/ Wellbeing Practitioner. Sally works specifically in schools, either supporting children/ young people struggling with their mental health directly 1:1 or in small groups.
Sally taught in a primary school for two years, before leaving teaching and studying Education Mental Health Practice at King’s College London and qualifying as an Education Mental Health Practitioner.
What your work entails:
I work across education and healthcare settings in South West London to provide CBT-based early intervention mental health support for children and young people in schools and colleges. I also deliver mental health training for school staff and psycho-education workshops to students and parents. I am specialised in child and adolescent anxiety, low mood/ depression and child challenging behaviour (for children under 10).
I have not worked directly with a Reach child or parent, but the biggest mental health difficulty that children and young people as a whole appear to be struggling with is anxiety. Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at various points in their lives, but when it is recurring, regular and interferes with everyday life, that is when it becomes problematic and people should seek help. However, many children and young people, and even parents, do not understand what they are experiencing, and therefore are unable or unwilling to seek support.
I believe it is incredibly important to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health that is present in our society, and I think there is also stigma surrounding people with an upper limb difference. People are scared of what they don’t know, and so a big part of my work is to educate children and young people, and by extension their families, in understanding that everyone has a mental health, in the same way that everyone has a physical health. I would love to see there be a normalisation of seeking support for mental health difficulties in all people, but in this case, especially people with upper limb difference.