‘Psychiatry Has its Head in the Sand: Royal College of Psychiatrists Rejects Discussion of Crucial Research on Antipsychotics’ by Joanna Moncrieff

jmoncrieffDuring the time I was a neuroscientist (for 25 years), I became increasingly worried about the blinkered focus of many people that drugs were the sole solution to mental health problems. I was also concerned about the side effects produced by prescribed drugs. In the 13 years since I left this field – well, I stopped doing research – my concerns have increased, particularly with many new research findings. Here is an example from Joanna Moncrieff, from the excellent website Mad in America, of why am I worried.      

‘Two pieces of research have been published over the last two years that should prompt a major reorientation of the treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis, and a fundamental reappraisal of the use of antipsychotic drugs in general.  Put together, these studies suggest that the standard approach to treating serious mental health problems may cause more harm than good.

Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs has adverse effects on the brain, and may impair rather than improve chances of recovery for some. Many people ask me how the psychiatric profession has responded to this data. Surely, they think, it must have stimulated a major debate within the profession, and some critical reflection about why it took so long to recognise these worrying effects? Sadly, this does not appear to be happening.

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A Journey Toward Recovery: From the Inside Out

IMG_2364-220x165Today, I thought I’d repost a blog from our early days. It is from 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.

At the the time, the original article had been ‘lost’, due to the original website  being redeveloped. However, I  have found it now! Enjoy!

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.

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‘Psych drugs can strip folks of caring about hygiene & home environment’ by Monica Cassani

adlI really like Monica Cassani’s blog Beyond Meds. Monica say: ‘This blog documents and shares many natural methods of self-care for finding and sustaining health in body, mind and spirit. My own experience as both (now – ex) patient and a mental health professional allows for some interesting and sometimes uncomfortable insights into the mental health system in the United States.’

In the world of social services they refer to them as your ADLs. Activities of daily living. ADLs encompass more than care of self and home but I’m referring to those two things here as they are the most common and visible dysfunction quite often.

If you’ve been part of the mental health system you’ll know that mental health professionals quite often check in with you to see how well you’re functioning by asking about your ADLs. And people who’ve been highly psychiatrized quite often know the acronym. ADL.

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‘A healthy mind in a healthy society’ by Dinyar Godrej

rsz_imagesHere’s a wonderful blog on the mental health scene from the New Internationalist magazine.

Sitting in the waiting room of a busy psychologists’ practice in Rotterdam, I’m intrigued by the furtive nature of the experience. People waiting for their 50 minutes of focused talk avoid each other’s eyes, acknowledging each other with embarrassment, if at all. I could be in the waiting room of a sexually transmitted diseases clinic.

I’m a bit puzzled. With the increased familiarity of stress-related problems nowadays, shouldn’t this kind of guilt (no other word quite captures it) be a thing of the past?

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‘Psychiatry bible blamed for manufacturing a host of ghosts in complex inner human world’ by Cherrill Hicks

rsz_1gary_2694012bA brilliant article for you to read at the end of your work week, focusing on the medicalisation of psychological problems and the bad use of diagnosis. I saw this published  in the Sydney Morning Herald, from an original source in the Daily Telegraph in the UK.

Has the drive to identify all illnesses created a ‘fiction’ of psychiatry?
In his riveting tale of how psychiatrists ”medicalise” human suffering, Gary Greenberg recounts that, in 1850, a physician called Samuel Cartwright reported a new disease in the highly respected New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal.

Cartwright named it drapetomania, from the ancient Greek drapetes for a runaway slave; in other words, here was a disease that ”caused Negroes to run away”. It had one primary diagnostic symptom – ”absconding from service” – and a few secondary ones, including ”sulkiness and dissatisfaction just prior to flight”.

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Development of the recovery model in the mental health field, Part 1

rsz_emil_kraepelin_1926A recovery revolution is occurring in both the addiction and mental health arenas that is challenging practices within both fields. In various places in different countries, recovery is becoming the concept around which addiction and mental health systems of care are being organised.

A transformation of systems of care is underway, shifting away from systems based on pathology to ones that promote wellness and recovery. Hopefully, these changes will also see a much needed bridging between the addiction and mental health fields.

Where did this interest in recovery arise? And why do we feel that we need to change our present systems of care? In this, and in following blogs, I will look briefly at the development of the recovery model in the mental health field.

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Lifetime Achievement Award for Pat Deegan

the_muthas-347x171You can find Pat Deegan and her wonderful mental health recovery work on this website in a number of places – just check out by searching. Pat has just won a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award  from the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. Here is what she said on her PDA website:

‘Last week I was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services.

My friends Sally Zinman, Jacki McKinney and Gayle Bluebird also received awards. I really enjoyed the way the award ceremony was handled.  Harvey Rosenthal had 5 big armchairs arranged on the keynote stage with mics in front of each.  We were presented with our awards and then had the opportunity to address three questions:

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‘What Amy Winehouse’s Birthday Means to Me’ by Beth Burgess

london recovery coach.jpgBeth is really getting prolific at the Huffington Post. I’ll keep pushing her blogs out as I like her writing. So here we go again.

‘I was 27 when I decided to stop drinking; the same age at which Amy Winehouse sadly died while in the throes of her own battle with the booze. Although I didn’t find immediate recovery after my initial decision to quit, I was already sober when Amy’s death was announced in July 2011.

Even though the rest of the world seemed to be expecting the news, I recall feeling shocked to hear of the British singer’s death. It’s part of the mental block among alcoholics, where you downplay the consequences of drinking. I never thought the worst would happen to me. I never thought it would happen to her. She probably never thought it would either. It’s classic denial.

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What facilitates recovery from mental health problems?

IMG_2882I was looking through my old blogs on Wired In To Recovery and came across this one.

The blog is based on a paper by Wendy Brown and Niki Kandirikirira, entitled “Recovering Mental Health in Scotland: Report on Narrative Investigation of Mental Health Recovery”. It’s the 19th manuscript in the list on this page.

‘This research involved the recovery narratives of 64 individuals in Scotland who identified themselves as being in recovery or recovered from a long-term mental health problems.

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Recovery as an organising construct – Bill White interviews Larry Davidson

UnknownI have just been reading a Bill White interview of Larry Davidson – the two people who have most impacted on my work – and I was very interested by Larry’s response to these two questions about the mental health field. What is said is of course highly relevant to the addiction field.

Bill White: How is the emergence of recovery as a new organizing paradigm changing the design and delivery of mental health services in the United States?

Larry Davidson: I think the biggest change that the recovery paradigm has introduced, and the change that poses the most difficulty for traditional clinicians to understand and accept, is that recovery is primarily the responsibility of the person rather than the practitioner.

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Recovery Vision: New paradigm, new questions, new answers

I’ve just watched this wonderful talk (from 2001) by Bill Anthony, one of the pioneers in recovery-based care in mental health. [Bill starts his talk at 25’20” into the video]

Bill describes a metaphor for explaining a paradigm shift, such as the paradigm shift to recovery-based care in mental health.

This metaphor is that mankind once thought the world was flat. This understanding led to certain questions such as, “How far do I sail before I fall off the end of the earth?” Once mankind learnt the world was round, these questions were redundant. We asked different questions.

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‘Beautiful Boy: More Than An Addict’ by Jim Contopulos

The beauty of the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve in southern California provides the backdrop for a father’s lament upon losing his beautiful son to addiction and mental illness.

Walk alongside him, as together, we who survive dream of a better day, sustained and inspired by the pain, brokenness and courage of those who live with the unrelenting weight of mental illness and addiction.

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“Creating Connections through Dialogue” conference

‘We live in an increasingly interdependent and interconnected world. The Creating Connections conference was an opportunity to explore various aspects of connectedness and the implications for recovery.

Health and mental health providers, people with the lived experience of mental health challenges and recovery, family members and others were invited to participate in workshops and joined in facilitated dialogue sessions to connect and learn from one another to become more effective in our lives and in our work.’

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‘Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice’ by Julie Repper & Rachel Perkins

41F08WRN58L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_I am very impressed by this book and highly recommend it for all people working in the mental health and addiction fields. It is informative, easy to read and considers a wide range of practical issues. It focuses on how we can best help people with mental health problems gain meaningful and satisfying lives.

I’ve written one blog based on material in this book – What is Recovery? – and more will appear shortly. Here is what appears on the book’s back cover:

‘The starting point of this book is the lived experience of mental health problems and recovery, articulated by many of those who have survived and thrived with mental health difficulties.

On the basis of the myriad individual journeys contained in their accounts, the book explores the day-to-day supportive and facilitative role of nurses and direct care staff as allies in the recovery process.

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‘Personal medicine, power statements and other disruptive innovations in healthcare technology’ by Pat Deegan

patdeegan_photoI’ve just found this exciting article by Pat Deegan which she wrote for the Scottish Recovery Network (SRN). In my humble opinion, Pat’s CommonGround approach will have an enormous impact in the mental health field.

The SRN writes: “Given her hugely influential writing and personal reflections, research interests and involvement in various policy and practice initiatives, Pat Deegan is arguably the single most influential person within the international recovery movement. Her work today is strongly focused on shared decision making approaches and here she describes how the CommonGround approach, which she has developed, has real potential to encourage systems change towards recovery.”

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Rights of the consumer

2007_0116walpole0118‘I am writing a short piece on the Survivor (or Consumer) Movement in Psychiatry at the moment.

This Movement arose initially from people who had received psychiatric treatment speaking out about what they considered to be the less helpful or abusive aspects of their treatment. They have tried to change the system so that poor practices and outright abuses cannot continue and impact negatively on other people.

Whilst writing this piece, I came across an article by Sally Clay, A Personal History of the Consumer Movement, which is well worth a read. How many things described here are relevant to people’s experiences in the addiction treatment field?

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Plenary talks

Films of the plenary talks at the 2012 Refocus on Recovery conference in London. Includes mental health recovery advocates Mark Ragins and Mike Slade.

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‘Shouting recovery from the rooftops’ by Beth Burgess

Shouting recovery from the rooftopsI remember Beth Burgess joining the Wired In To Recovery community in November 2011. She certainly shouted from the rooftops and it was great. Here is Beth’s first blog and some comments she received. These comments refer to the prejudice that recovering people feel and fear.

‘I have had enough. Enough of saying to people with a half-smile, “Er…yeah, I don’t really drink…any more.” “A health kick?” “Yeah, something like that.” I have had enough of putting ‘career break’ on my CV. I am fed up of insinuating rather than being honest.

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Susan’s Story, Part 3: ‘Missing Michael – A Story by Blog’

P1010995Susan lost her son Michael to a drug overdose on the 22nd January, 2010. I, for one, cannot begin to understand what someone must go through after such a loss.

However, I gained some appreciation from the Susan’s extraordinary writing in a blog she published on our online recovery community Wired In To Recovery. I was captivated and deeply moved by Susan’s writing, as were many other people in our community.

This is Part 3 of a slightly edited version of Sue’s blogs. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you have not seen them.

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How do I know a treatment service is recovery-oriented?

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.

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