Personal Favourite: ‘A journey toward recovery: From the inside out’ by Dale Walsh

IMG_2364-220x165I’m going to take a breather for a few weeks from posting on Recovery Stories so I can take a break and then focus on some Sharing Culture work. Remember, there’s plenty of content on the website for you to look at, including over 700 blogs and plenty of Recovery Stories, articles, etc.

I thought I’d leave you with one of my favourite blogs, A journey toward recovery: From the inside out by Dale Walsh.

The Problem
“For many years I believed in a traditional medical model. I had a disease. I was sick. I was told I was mentally ill, that I should learn to cope with my anxiety, my depression, my pain, and my panic.

I never told anyone about the voices, but they were there, too. I was told I should change my expectations of myself and realize I would always have to live a very restricted life.

Read More ➔

Behind the Pages with Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

“The vast majority of drug abuse is associated with earlier trauma. It’s very rare to see somebody who becomes a drug addict who not also has a history of abuse and neglect.” Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

Behind The Pages host Diane Goshgarian interviews author Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD about his new book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Interview recorded at 22-CityView Cambridge on October 08, 2014.

As I said last week, this book is essential reading if you are working in the mental health and addiction fields.

‘What does a person need in their environment in order to recover?’ by Mark Ragins

Mark Ragins believes there are four important things an environment must have to facilitate mental health recovery.

1. Relationships, as it is very difficult to recover alone. This is a little more complicated than you might think, as many people distance themselves from someone with mental health problems. A clinician may do this by talking about the illness rather than the person.

People must commit themselves to having a normal conversation with a person with mental health problems.

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‘Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care’ by Peter Kinderman

DSM-5__DSM-IV-TRExcellent blog in Scientific American by Professor Peter Kinderman. I agree with all that Peter says here.

‘The idea that our more distressing emotions such as grief and anger can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses is pervasive and seductive. But in my view it is also a myth, and a harmful one.

Our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems.

We need wholesale and radical change, not only in how we understand mental health problems, but also in how we design and commission mental health services.

Read More ➔

Classic Blog – ‘What is Recovery?': Julie Repper & Rachel Perkins

2007_0116walpole0097-220x164In my blogs, I will be exploring the nature of recovery and will sometimes focus on the ideas of someone else (or a group of people). I’ve previously looked at how David Best has talked about “What is Recovery?” David described key principles underlying addiction recovery.

In this blog, I am going to look at what Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins have to say about “What is Recovery?”, as described in their excellent book Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice. They include a number of quotes about recovery, some of which I will use here.

As Julie and Rachel point out the concept of mental health recovery did not come from professionals and academics. It emerged from the writings of people who themselves face the challenges of life with mental health problems. On the basis of such accounts Anthony (1993) described recovery as:

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Classic Blog – ‘How do I know a treatment service is recovery-oriented?’ by Mark Ragins

Some treatment services today say they are doing recovery – using recovery-based care – when they are not in fact doing so. So how do you know that you are going to receive genuine recovery-based care when you sign up to a treatment service claiming to be recovery-oriented?

Here is some help from Mark Ragins, a leading figure in the mental health recovery field, about what to look for in a service offering recovering-based care. Mark may be talking about mental health recovery, but what he says is of relevance to addiction recovery.

In summary, Mark emphasises three key features of recovery-based care:

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Classic Blog – ‘A journey toward recovery: From the inside out’ by Dale Walsh

IMG_2364-220x165My apologies for the pause in uploading blogs, but have been very busy working on our Sharing Culture initiative. More news on that front soon.

‘I read an extraordinary article by Dale Walsh written back in 1996 which really summed up what recovery and recovery principles mean to a person who has been suffering from mental health problems. I thought I would highlight some of the main points here.

The Problem
“For many years I believed in a traditional medical model. I had a disease. I was sick. I was told I was mentally ill, that I should learn to cope with my anxiety, my depression, my pain, and my panic.

I never told anyone about the voices, but they were there, too. I was told I should change my expectations of myself and realize I would always have to live a very restricted life.

Read More ➔

‘CRAZYWISE – Extended Trailer’ from Phil Borges

A 20-year fascination with shamanism leads filmmaker Phil Borges to question Western culture’s definition and treatment of severe mental disorders.

CRAZYWISE, a feature length documentary, centers around a young man struggling with his sanity, world renowned mental health professionals and a survivor-led movement… all challenging a mental health system in crisis.

’Self-Determination in Mental Health Recovery: Taking Back Our Lives (Part 2)’ by Mary Ellen Copeland

Unknown-7Breaking Down Barriers to Self-Determination
There are many assumptions about “mental illness” and mental health that must change, and are changing, that will facilitate the personal process of self-determination and taking back our lives.

When I first decided to reach out for help to deal with the difficult feelings I had been having all my life, I went through a lengthy questioning process (assessment) that had little or nothing to do with the way I was feeling.

I was given a diagnosis, told what that diagnosis would mean in terms of what I could expect in my life, and given medications that I was told I must take, probably for the rest of my life. Little attention was paid to my “out of control” lifestyle, my abusive relationship and my history of childhood sexual and emotional abuse and trauma.

Read More ➔

’Self-Determination in Mental Health Recovery: Taking Back Our Lives (Part 1)’ by Mary Ellen Copeland

Unknown-7This morning I was thinking about factors that facilitate healing amongst Indigenous people in preparation for some content I’m writing for Sharing Culture. I first thought ‘self-determination’. We know that self-determination is key for recovery, yet the white-dominated society here (and in other colonised nations) forces its way of doing things on indigenous people, even when it does not work.

Anyway, I googled self-determination, and came up with this excellent article by Mary Ellen Copeland. I thought I would upload Mary Ellen’s article in several parts.

‘The most important aspect of mental health recovery for me personally is self-determination. My connection with people in the system and in recovery has convinced me that the same is true for others.

In this paper I will discuss both my personal perspectives and the perspectives of others on this important topic based on many years of experience as a person, a user of mental health services, a researcher and a teacher.

Read More ➔

MIA Film Festival Short Film Winner: “The Virtues of Non-Compliance”

This film won best short at Mad in America’s International Film Festival. It was co-directed by Evan Goodchild and Sera Davidow, and produced by the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community.

‘The current-day mental health system has been shaped around the idea that people who have been given psychiatric diagnoses suffer in a way over which they have no control and that often results in an inability to care for one’s self.

It is an approach that encourages the idea that professionals need to step in to be the experts and determine someone’s human potential.  These beliefs have also influenced other aspects of our culture to the point where news, movies, friends and family tend to perpetuate the message that we are chronically sick and need to re-adjust our hopes and dreams.

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‘Recovery Stories – Episode 1: What Does Recovery Mean for You?’ by Cafe TA Center

‘At the 2013 Alternatives conference in Austin, TX, The CAFE TA Center invited people with lived experience to share their thoughts on recovery. Dozens of people chose to participate, and offered their reflections on the recovery process, how the concept of recovery has changed their perspective on mental health, and what public policy makers and the general public need to understand about the concept of recovery.

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Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community: Hope & Healing Through Community

‘This 12 minute video about the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (RLC) introduces viewers to the RLC philosophy and provides a window into that community in all its diversity and vibrancy!

The Western Mass RLC supports individuals who have lived experience with trauma, extreme emotional states and/or mental health diagnoses in finding their own paths to recovery by offering trauma-sensitive peer supports and through the development of a regional peer network.

Read More ➔

Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head

Brilliant and very moving TED talk from Eleanor Longden.

‘To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her.

Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.’

‘How Can We Spread the News?’ by Kjetil Mellingen

kjmelliGreat article from Mad in America with excellent discussion.

‘Ever since I read Mad in America and later Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker, I have been wondering how to spread this knowledge to the masses and how to do this in a way that will make a difference to as many people as possible.

I used to teach creativity and brainstorming to corporations, and I would like to use the brain force of the MIA readers to find out new ways of influencing as many as possible with our message. In creativity research it has been shown that it is important to not be critical of your ideas in the early stages. Anything you can think of may be valuable, even if it seems crazy in the beginning. Often  the craziest ideas can bring the best results.

These ideas are called stepping stones. Just write them down, share them, and often you or others will see a practical modification of the idea that may actually be used.

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‘Patient Centred-Care Doesn’t Go Far Enough: We Need Patient-Perspective Care’ by Tim Carey

timAn excellent article by Tim Carey on Mad in America.

‘A growing appreciation of the importance of involving people in their own health care has seen the development of initiatives such as “patient-centred care.” Patient-centred care has been defined as “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” (Institute of Medicine, 2014)

While this definition seems reasonable enough, it appears to be very difficult to translate into practice; particularly in the area of mental health.

It is not always clear in mental health, for instance, that it is patients’ values that guide all clinical decisions. I experienced some of this when I began to develop a system of mental health service delivery which I came to call “patient-led” treatment.

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‘Peer Support in Mental Health: Exploitive, Transformative, or Both?’ by Larry Davidson

ldavidsonI am a great admirer of Larry Davidson’s work and writings. Three of his books are amongst my favourite reads in the mental health field – please see below. These books provide clear insights into the whys and hows of adopting recovery based care.

Here is Larry’s latest writing, which appeared on the Mad in America website.

‘The first time I tried to write about peer support – that emerging form of “service delivery” in which one person in recovery from what is described in the field as a “serious mental illness” offers support to another person who is in distress or struggling with a mental health condition – was in 1994. The manuscript was summarily rejected from an academic journal as representing what one of the reviewers described as “unsubstantiated rot.”

That same article was eventually published 5 years later (1), and used by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to support its recommendation that peer supports be implemented across the country. (2) Now, more than a decade later and as peer support arrives at something of a crossroads, both of these reactions remain instructive.

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Human Healing in the Age of Science – The Art of the Healing Shift: Dr David Reilly

I believe passionately that our systems of care for mental health and addiction are broken and need transformation. Sadly, the same systems of care are generally resistant to change.

The situation continues to get worse for two primary reasons. Firstly, the negative consequences of modernity include an increase in emotional distress, disconnectedness, social isolation and addictions of various kinds. Ever increasing numbers of people are looking for help.

Secondly, the poor outcomes of our mental health and addiction care systems are leading to disempowerment and lack of hope, which in turn further increase the problems described above. Moreover, people seeking help are often blamed for not getting better, rather than the system accept its own shortcomings.

We have the knowledge to do so very much better. Sadly, those of us who are trying to transform these systems so that more people get better often bang our head against a brick wall. Vested interests play an important role in underlying this resistance to change.

Read More ➔

‘Want to reduce mental illness? Address trauma. Want to save the world? Address trauma.’ by Laura K Kerr PhD

Scapegoat‘Different explanations have been given for the increased number of people suffering from mental illness. Some have claimed the increase is the result of ever-expanding diagnostic criteria and syndromes that risk medicalizing normal emotional reactions.

Others argue the increase is the result of the pharmaceutical industry financially courting the medical establishment as well as using advertisements to attract potential users of their medications.

While both these arguments seem correct, they nevertheless fail to address that an increasing number of people regularly experience despair and anguish and are struggling to make a meaningful life, if not keep themselves psychologically, socially, and financially afloat.

I would like to suggest an additional explanation for the increase in mental illness: The upsurge is the result of the collective failure to alleviate conditions that contribute to trauma-related stress.

Read More ➔

Pat Deegan – Common Ground

A brilliant must-see talk by Pat Deegan, a major pioneer and inspiration in the mental health field. After describing her own experiences in treatment, Pat talks about Common Ground, the web-based application she has developed that helps people meet with psychiatrists and doctors and arrive at the best decisions for their treatment and recovery.

This is Pat’s presentation at the 2012 Summer Institute for Informed Patient Choice at Dartmouth.