Wednesday, 22 October 2014

my response to Dr Denise Coia post on Ayrshire Health blog

Bridging the gap between inequality and reality for those with mental illness by Dr Denise Coia (Healthcare Improvement Scotland Chair) on Ayrshire Health blog

My response:

"I am a writer, activist and campaigner in mental health matters, also an unpaid carer of two sons who have mental disorder labels/diagnoses so I wanted to declare my "conflict of interest" before making this comment which will be a critical voice.

Firstly I have been excluded from Scottish Patient Safety Programmes in Mental Health by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.  Why?  The reason given:  if I attend then others won't.  Please check this information with the HIS chair and other to verify.

Secondly I recently had a complaint against NHS Fife upheld regarding unreasonable treatment of my son in the IPCU at Stratheden Hospital, in respect of their locked seclusion room use.  A room which had no toilet or drinking water, light switch outside.  Here is the Sunday Express article which tells our story.

Thirdly, in response to Dr Coia's comments about people with mental illness dying sooner due to not getting their physical health issues treated, I would like to challenge this perspective.  There are other articles written which lay the blame for reduced life expectancy in the severe and enduringly mentally ill at the door of psychiatric drug treatment. 

The drugs or medication debilitate and disable people because of the side effects in the short term and the more serious permanent side effects in the longer term.. Which include a higher rate of diabetes, walking problems, increased social anxiety due to medicine agitation and tardive dyskinesia, a permanent disabling nerve condition due to continued long term use of neuroleptics on the brain and nerve endings. 

See article on Psychology Today by Paula Caplan

And book 'Anatomy of an Epidemic' by Robert Whitaker, "best investigative journalism book of 2010"

There are always two sides to a story and in mental health settings there is the professional's "take" on things and then there is the other, the person with "lived experience", often called the real "experts".  I am a person who has made a full recovery from "mental illness" and did this by taking charge of my own mental health, tapering and getting off the psychiatric drugs, in 2004, and getting back on with my life.

Mental illness does not need to be a disabling lifelong condition.  It could be an episodic condition with the "right" treatment, is how I look at it, and so do others.  We who have other ways of looking at mental distress and emotional crises would like to see alternative ways of working with people in psychoses that don't have to mean drug treatment, on occasion forcibly given.  There has to be a better way to "forge a ring of confidence" I contend."

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