Clinical Director of Breathe Therapies to Judge at this year's RSPH Awards.

Clinical Director of Breathe Therapies to Judge at this year's RSPH Awards.

Clinical Director of Breathe Therapies to Judge at this year's RSPH Awards.

Posted: 08/09/2022

Shelley Perry, founder and Clinical Director of Breathe Therapies, a Preston-based not-for-profit clinic, specialising in treatment and therapy for eating disorders, mental health, obesity and wellbeing, has been selected as a Judge on the panel of the 2022 Royal Society for Public Health awards. Breathe Therapies, last year, won a prestigious RSPH accolade for an innovative programme designed and put into effective clinical practice by Shelley and her team.

In 2021, Breathe Therapies won the 'Healthier Lifestyles' award, a prize given in national acknowledgement of the project most effectively working to support those who are vulnerable, and aid them in making lifestyle changes which will most benefit their health and wellbeing. Breathe’s ‘Footsteps’ Eating Disorder Recovery Programme was selected for its accessibility and comprehensive support of those in the grip of the cruel and potentially fatal conditions of an eating disorder – by combining the technology of an App, with the personal expertise and understanding of an Eating Disorder Coach and Specialist Dieticians, who offer therapeutic support to the user both online and in a number of face-to-face sessions. The Footsteps programme has made all the difference to numerous clients, especially those in their teens, who are particularly vulnerable to eating disorders, and have found it an invaluable tool and guide to use on their recovery journey.

Now Shelley is looking forward to the opportunity to look carefully into all the other admirable work going on in the field of public health. Being a judge is not only an exercise in critical acumen, but a chance to encourage the hard work of others, and praise the most deserving of businesses, charities, and individuals, who put their skill and energy into helping those in the wider community to be healthy and live well, despite adversity.

Judging at the Royal Society for Public Health awards 2022 involves in-depth examination of nominated projects, and interviewing those involved in them, for seven distinct categories, which reflect the wide arena in which health and wellbeing may be significantly affected, influenced, and improved. These range from ‘Arts and Health’ to ‘Health and Wellbeing in Workplaces’ and focus in on ‘Health Equity’ and ‘Mental Health’, among the rest.

Shelley has the open mindset and wider interests ideally suited to analysing and appreciating such a broad field. Coming from a Nursing family and having trained as a Mental Health Nurse herself, she founded Breathe Therapies with a person-centric focus, realising that mental-health can only be thoroughly understood or reinforced by addressing also the bio-psycho-social context in which it develops. As individuals’ needs vary widely, so will their response to different kinds of therapy. Breathe has gathered a team of experts able to offer interventions such as Art Psychotherapy, Dance and Movement Psychotherapy, Psychosexual Therapy, and Highly Specialized Dietetics, alongside more standard approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).

Shelley is interested to see what has been taking place during such a difficult period, when public health, both physical and mental, has undergone an unusual strain. Breathe heard from a large number of enquirers whose mental health had been aggravated by the effects of Covid and lockdown. Of these, many accessed their help, and others needed signposting to services such as the NHS, charities and other non-profits.  

She is also intrigued to glimpse possible developments in the field. Breathe Therapies is now venturing further into the future than ever before. During lockdown, they were forced to transfer many therapy sessions from in-clinic to online, and discovered the advantage of being able to treat people in their own homes even if they lived at a great distance. Now, they are in the forefront of Virtual Reality Therapy for phobias, being one of the only therapy clinics in the UK to offer this mode of treatment – which studies show increases the effectiveness of therapy by up thirty percent when offered in combination with a more traditional approach such as CBT or EMDR.

The final judging and awards event for RSPH awards will take place in October 2022. Awards are presented during an evening of splendid entertainment and uplifting recognition in London, where Shelley will take her place among the panellists, and then on the dance floor! After last year’s evening of surprise and celebration, she is looking forward eagerly to meeting the finalists and celebrating all the good work being done in the area of Public Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing.