I have known Pat Kenny for several years, as I started to work with him on The Camden Borough Users Group and The Patients Council. I wouldn’t have known him as a sympathetic worker on these groups if I hadn’t realized that he is a quiet man who just gets on with it!
Having been born in Birmingham, Pat’s family moved to Ireland when he was seven and stayed there for 20 years. Here he became involved in the music scene at The Rock Bar in Dublin where guests such as Bryan Adams and Poison came through. He was also working as a DJ on two pirate radio stations, Centre Radio and North Dublin Community Radio. He was also playing in a band as a bass player.
So all was going well until the day job working as a supervisor in an industrial roofing company fell through when he, quite literally, fell off a roof and broke an arm in three places! Sad to say, he has not played since.
The years passed by and Pat turned up in Edmonton in North London where he became a supervisor of quality control at Ford in Ponders End. By this time he was married to a woman who had developed bulimia and self-harming. Pat worked as her carer for five years in which time the marriage fell apart and he was by this time developing his own mental health problems. Life took a turn for the worse when his employers became aware of these problems and suggested he take voluntary redundancy. Out of employment, Pat feels in retrospect that he was a victim of stigma and ignorance about mental health issues and that if there had been more support for him then many of his issues might not have got so bad.
Things got even worse for Pat when he started a relationship with another self-harmer. Things seemed to be better but then they got much worse when his new partner was killed in a car-crash. This event precipitated a mental breakdown where there was very little support in the mental health community, resulting in Pat just about getting by.
Moving to Camden in 2008, things took a turn for the better when Pat discovered service user involvement groups such as The Patients Council, which involves mental health wards being inspected by users on a monthly basis, and Camden Borough Users’ Group (CBUG).
The other area where Pat has been influential is in The Revolving Doors Agency, which looks at the treatment of mentally ill people in the criminal justice system when Section 136 Orders place people in Accident and Emergency or a police cell. At Revolving Doors Pat has spoken to The Home Affairs Select Committee on Policing and Mental Health. He has also spoken to police officers at Hendon Training College and Scotland Yard in training scenarios.
Pat would probably admit that the best thing that has happened to him recently was that he got married to his girlfriend of two years! They were married in The Graceland Chapel of Elvis Fame in Las Vegas. Back at home he relaxes with friends, music, long walks and an eclectic appetite for all sorts of cuisine.
Hopes for the future? Pat would like to find more work in the mental health services helping people who are where he has been. He would encourage others who are dealing with mental health issues to get into service user involvement. He sees it as the best therapy! So, a quiet man who has faced down his demons and who now helps other people. It doesn’t get much better than that. Rock on Pat!