Wednesday, 16 October 2013

the rehabilitation of the "severe and enduring mentally ill" down my street

Is it still appropriate to talk about the rehabilitation of people who have been psychiatric inpatients and labelled with "severe and enduring mental illness" (SEMI)?  I say NO.  It reinforces the stigma and discrimination, in my opinion, and makes it even more difficult for people to recover their personhood and get back on with their lives.

Where I live, in Fife, they continue to put rehabilitation and recovery side by side in their mental health strategies and action plans, and in their psychiatric system.  Separating the wheat from the chaff.  Them and us.  The mentally ill from those with "common mental health problems".  

We're not criminals although we sometimes get locked up then restrained, secluded and forcibly treated.  Non-conformity and being unco-operative shouldn't be labelled "non-compliance" or "without capacity" and an excuse for forcing drugs into us at any and every opportunity.  Resistance is normal when a system is oppressive.

Well I wasn't having it, the label or the stigma, so resisted the lifelong prognosis and recovered.  However it took a fair bit of resilience and bloodymindedness, dogged determination not to be a forever service user, keeping psychiatric staff in jobs for life.

But that doesn't mean that people who have been labelled and disabled by the psychiatric treatment shouldn't get the support and services they deserve.  However keeping them in separate piles and dead-end cul-de-sacs isn't the way to do it.  We're all in it together, in terms of mental health issues.  It's no respecter of persons. 

So I say to the high heid yins at my bit that it's time for them to ditch the stigmatising labels and do no more harm.  Mental health difficulties are no excuse for silencing patient voices or denying basic human rights.  We need independent advocacy and full disclosure. 

Confidentiality isn't a one-way street.  Psychiatric notes aren't about keeping the power base.  Recovery is possible.  A paradigm shift in mental health services is necessary.

Stigma begins and ends with psychiatry: time to stop labelling and disabling

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