DCEO Frankie Hill on celebrating and supporting women
Frankie Hill, DCEO at Mind in Bradford with Saliha Sadiq, Vice Chair and Mental Health Director of the Millan Centre
For this year’s International Women’s Day, Mind in Bradford’s DCEO Franke Hill joined a panel of incredible women from across the Bradford District sharing stories and experiences of mental health, the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, domestic violence, racism and dual heritage.
Frankie shared messages of support for all women along with some of her personal stories, including the loss of a close friend to mental health and her journey to joining Mind in Bradford.
“International Women’s Day is a big day in my calendar and always prompts exchanges of love and support both to and from the many amazing and supportive women in my life. And I think that it’s important to celebrate that because of all the amazing women who have supported me, helped me grow and taught me immeasurable lessons as I have gone through my life. I am very lucky to like many women have many roles, mother, daughter, sister, wife, auntie, friend,” said Frankie.
“As a registered general nurse I have worked across many specialities, however the key thread of people in hospital is that no matter what the physical health illness is, there will be a person either with a mental health challenge or a person who is supporting someone with a mental health challenge on your ward. As a lifelong learner I have always wanted to know more (you could just say I’m very nosey).
Watch Frankie’s speech at the International Women’s Day event at City Hall:
“In 2016 I began to reflect after 20 years as a RGN, the last six as a Matron, what it was that I wanted. I was looking for a new challenge, I was exploring more senior roles, looking for a new path. My children were 16 and 18 with my eldest off to uni in September. I considered re-training as a RMN. I was sharing my thoughts with my friend Amy, a few years younger than me. She had stayed with me for a year to look after my eldest child Sammy when he was a baby and we had remained close, she had two young children and she was part of our family. I am godmother to her children, she was our person for our children if anything had happened to me and my husband.
“Then in December 2016 I got a call from her fiancée. Amy had died by suicide. My world pretty much fell apart. This amazing woman in her thirties with two beautiful children and a lovely partner was gone. The months after were very difficult, confusing, distressing, full of despair and disbelief. I pretty much coasted at work for a while, where I had always been a person moving forward and looking for more.
In 2017 I found Mind in Bradford and joined their board of trustees. This, I think, was my way of trying to be involved in preventing this from happening to anyone else. I recognised that my involvement with Mind was nourishing me in a way that my paid job was not, and I knew that ultimately that was where I needed to be.
“The roles I took on in the NHS from 2018 and the direction of my professional travel then became focused on patient safety, inquests, mortality, and understanding as much as I could about suicide. I subsequently went to work at Leeds and York Partnership, again in patient safety, again, looking at death, risk and suicide. A bit of a pattern but it was almost a little therapeutic. Dark, I admit, but it worked for me.
“So of course, my general interest and my experience has made me keenly aware of the need to support women’s mental health, particularly at times when I feel we are at our most vulnerable – during pregnancy, and in the first year after birth. And for the keen-eyed of you, you may have noticed that I am a prime candidate for the peri-menopause and have not gone unscathed. I am feeling all of the psychological symptoms and am wearing my HRT patch and taking my tablets and supplements. The best advice and the best people to support me with my symptoms have been the women around me.
“Women are more likely to experience eating disorders and anxiety, they are more likely to suffer domestic violence and trauma. And particularly women from the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience mental health problems and be victims of harassment and stigma. All of these leave a mark on our mental health.
This International Women’s Day is particularly important for me because I have a new woman in my life – my eldest child Sammy, who was assigned male at birth, is now living as a trans woman. I’m very proud that she is living as her authentic self and have been lucky that I am welcomed as her mum into her new world. I do of course sometimes say the wrong thing, but I am learning with her how we build our new relationship.
“We have lots of different services at Mind in Bradford and we’re here every day of the year to support people with their mental health and wellbeing. Guide-Line provides emotional and confidential support over the phone or through the live chat every single day.
“There are lots of different ways to access support so please do check out our website and tell your friends, colleagues and family members about us, we’re always here to help.
“Keep celebrating and supporting the fabulous women you know and don’t yet know.”
Posted on: 15th March 2023