Tuesday, 29 July 2014

seeing the label and not the person - stigma and discrimination, alive and kicking

Something happened on Friday which demonstrated that unfortunately stigma and discrimination is alive and kicking in Scotland's mental health world.

It happened to a person with a "mental disorder" label/diagnosis on a work placement who was targeted by a mental health professional behaving unprofessionally.   Discriminating against the person because of the diagnosis, breaching confidentiality and data protection.  

I had made a complaint about this mental health professional back in January 2013 and here they were behaving badly again.

Targeting a person who I am close to.  Their pain is my pain.  And I am very unhappy about it.

The stigmatising behaviour was further compounded by another senior professional in the workplace who listened to the unprofessional professional and followed their lead rather than standing with the person who had the label.  

Seeing the label and not the person.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

remember the finger pointing bullying at the double imhl? he seems to be getting away with it

double imhl website
It's a whitewash.  No surprise there then.

He was on their management group and they tasked him with my complaint against him.  How daft is that?

He said I'd called myself a "service user".  Wrong.

He said I'd badmouthed a high heid yin.  Wrong.

He said his anger was justified.  Wrong.

I told him to get his facts right.  

He tried to put the blame on me for his unwarranted attack.  I didn't know him from Adam. 

Here's a quote from my Email response to him on 22 July 2014, copied in to various high heid yins, when I realised my complaint was going nowhere:

"I was taken aback by your unprofessional behaviour at the event although at the time thought it was because you were a service user.  You said you were so I took you at your word.  Then when I saw your list of positions on LinkedIn which no doubt will mean payment of one sort or another I was very annoyed.  I thought.  How dare he point the finger at me!  Who does he think he is?"

This guy obviously thinks he can turn on an unsuspecting mother and activist who paid their own way to Manchester.  Point the finger, get angry, not declare who he is, at an international mental health event, in full view of others.  And get away with it.  


Some random tweets from Storify of tweets on my Manchester trip:


'NHS chief rejects fears over safety of patients' Herald article and my comment published

OUTSPOKEN: Professor June Andrews said managers and politicians were colluding to present an unrealistic picture of hospitals. Picture: Tony Marsh
Professor June Andrews

'NHS chief rejects fears over safety of patients' by Helen Puttick, Herald Health Correspondent, Thursday 24 July 201:

"The head of the Scottish NHS has defended the safety and honesty of the service after a top nurse described a conspiracy of silence which conceals dangers in hospitals.

Paul Gray, director general for health and social care in Scotland, said he did not object to people like Professor June Andrews, a renowned dementia expert, raising concerns."

"Ms Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University, spoke out in The Herald last month over her concerns that people were being given a false picture of hospital care.

She said: "Managers and ­polit­icians are in a painful situation where they have to collude in an attempt to present to the public a picture of hospitals that is completely unrealistic. 

"The Scottish Government already knows that there are some problems in hospitals but it is not generally known what the scale of the problem is. We need a more open discussion about the fact that a hospital is not a safe place."" 

"Describing the way some hold back from speaking out, she said: "A relative or patient sometimes worries whether they'll be victimised. They just want to get away.

"A whistleblower really has to consider whether they have the time, and resilience to undertake that act. They need to consider whether their own delay in blowing the whistle means that they are personally compromised and to blame. Who is going to through the first stone? 

"A responsible commentator has to consider whether bringing down a minister or a government through critical comment of the health system guarantees that the next minister or government will do it better.""

My published comment:

"I am a mother of two sons with mental disorder diagnoses/labels, an unpaid carer, also a mental health writer, activist and campaigner who speaks out about human rights issues in psychiatric settings. Unfortunately I can testify to being excluded from Scottish patient safety meetings, the reason given that if I attended then "others" wouldn't. I was told this by a Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) senior worker, formerly a Scottish Government senior worker, in an Email in May. I have since had letters about this topic from Dr Denise Coia, chair of the HIS board, and consultant psychiatrist, which tell me nothing much about why I am not being included and have not answered any of my questions.

It seems that there is a culture of a lack of transparency in government funded healthcare bodies and a lack of accountability to the public, to patients, to unpaid carers and mothers. It is nice to hear that Rab Wilson, former NHS worker, likes Paul Gray. However I am looking for more evidence as to Mr Gray's intentions and actions. What is he and other senior government ministers and managers doing to ensure transparency, safe healthcare practices and that people speaking out will not be at risk of bullying, intimidation and exclusion?

I am looking for actions not just words. I am looking for feedback from customers, the people who use health services, as to there being real improvement, real transparency and real freedom to speak out with a critical voice. I don't have to "like" the people in highly paid healthcare positions but I do want to have trust in what they are doing and to have an expectation that their words are leading to positive action."

Friday, 25 July 2014

is the locked seclusion room still being used in the Stratheden IPCU to "manage" the patients?

I don't know, haven't heard.  

It's been nearly 30 months since my son was first locked in the IPCU for hours at a time, broken hand untreated, light switch outside, no toilet, dehydrated, unobserved.  Left there, at risk of life and limb and dehumanising treatment.

I didn't know he had a broken hand until 3 days after it happened, finding out that there had been an injury but not the extent of it, until I saw it with my own eyes on the Saturday.  The senior charge nurse on the phone had said to me on the Thursday, by phone, that her nurses were all about "relationship".  And I believed her.

I didn't know that the night nurses used the seclusion room to "manage" the patients.  It was cultural and had been going on for generations.  I know this because some time after the psychiatric abuse occurred I heard from a man who had been subject to the same treatment 34 years previously.  In the Ward 4/IPCU seclusion room.

I don't know now what is happening, regarding improvements in Stratheden Hospital, because the NHS Fife clinical management are not telling me.  There is no patient or carer feedback about the IPCU that I am aware of.  And Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) senior staff have excluded me from any national patient safety meetings where I might have found out what is going on.  In Stratheden.

The fact that HIS have banned me from patient safety meetings doesn't make sense.  It demonstrates to me that they have something to hide.  It doesn't look good for Scottish Government to be colluding in this.  Trying to keep a mother and unpaid carer from being meaningfully involved in patient safety improvements.  I think it makes them all look silly.

It's too late for damage limitation.  The cat is out of the bag.  The story has been told, is being told, and will keep being told until the powers that be listen, hear and do something about it. 

I live less than a mile away from Stratheden Hospital, just a stone's throw, and often drive by it on the way into our local town Cupar.  It means that what happened to my son in this hospital is never far from my mind.  Also the fact that I've had to pick up the pieces after psychiatric abuse for the last 30 months.  The flashbacks. The detailed story of what was done to my son in the name of psychiatric treatment and "care".

And for my troubles I have received £61/week unpaid carers' allowance and no other support.  24/7 care.  I also support and advocate for another son in a different health board area who has a mental disorder label/diagnosis.  I get no additional monies for this. 

It's not fair.  I've not been treated right.  Despite this I continue to be meaningfully involved in a number of mental health matters from the psychiatric survivor and carer perspective.  I am determined to speak out at any and every opportunity.  To do what I can to bring about improvements in mental health services and psychiatric settings.  I will not be silenced.

I have found that when one door closes another door opens.  Being a grassroots community development worker since 1980 has helped me persist in my activism and campaigning.  I've become a writer to have a voice and it's become like breathing, putting down my thoughts in words.  A real bonus and delight.

And I have allies in the cause.  People who are standing with me in the fight for justice.  I'm not alone and for this I'm grateful.  Here's tae us, wha's like us!

I am expecting change.  I am working for change.  I have faith that it will happen.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Life After Darkness: NMD Ninewells "recovery" story then suicidal depression recurring taking "much longer to get better from"

On 7 June 2014 I was researching the book by Cathy Wield in 2005 on her recovery from depression following NMD/brain surgery for mental illness at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, with the Advanced Interventions Service when I came upon a recent article in the Baptist Times, from January 2013, by the same person, telling of the suicidal depression returning and it taking "much longer to get better from this bout".

I immediately sent an Email to Prof Keith Matthews head of the Advanced Interventions Service, copied to his colleague Dr David Christmas, with the subject heading 'Cathy Wield - neurosurgery for mental disorder then another severe suicidal depression taking "much longer to get better from"' concluding with:

"I am interested to hear your comments on the fact that Cathy Wield underwent serious brain surgery, irreversible and risky, only to again experience suicidal depression, hospitalisation and repeat ECT."

As yet I have had no response.

'Life After Darkness: A Doctor's Journey Through Severe Depression' by Cathy Wield, foreword by Keith Matthews, Professor of Psychiatry and Head of Advanced Interventions Service/Neurosurgery for Mental Disorder Service, University of Dundee.

Publication date 31 December 2005:  

'My life journey took me through a single, but continuous seven year episode. It was a terrible nightmare of torture and imprisonment. I am one of the fortunate ones to have survived and recovered. I hope through my story, I will be able to bring to you some insights into this kind of suffering and I hope that the stigma which is attached to mental illness will lessen as a result.' The remarkable and moving story of a doctor and mother of four who endured seven years of severe depression. 

Years of self-harm, attempted suicides and admissions to psychiatric units culminated in her resorting to brain surgery as a final attempt to escape her illness. The story of Cathy Wield covers the horrors of time spent in archaic institutions, the loss of any hope of recovery and certain death, to a full recovery following surgery. Today, she has returned to her career and rediscovered the joys of life and her family. This story is one of hope from an often hidden and stigmatised disease." Amazon UK

Then 5 January 2013: 'Cathy Wield Shares Her Experiences of Living with Depression with the Baptist Times'


"I have suffered two bouts of major depression; the first lasted for seven years continuously with no break, during which time I received just about every medical treatment available – psychotherapy, drugs, ECT and then when the prognosis was that I would die, brain surgery ...... On the eighth day post op, I suddenly experienced a light switching on in my head and I was instantaneously better; the depression had gone!"

"I thought since I had been healed in such a way that I would never suffer with depression again so we were surprised and disappointed when I began to have symptoms just at the time that we moved to Aberdeen in Scotland ..... This time it was more gradual, but eventually the illness became so severe that I was once again suicidal and therefore hospitalised. 

The church was extremely supportive – they had had teaching on depression and so recognised that this is not something you can snap out of, or that it was the fault of the sufferer or that I was not as spiritual as I should be. They sent cards and presents, visited and prayed. I had to have ECT again and thankfully this time it was successful and my recovery began.  It has taken much longer to get better from this bout"

"We now live in Watford.  My husband, who is a counsellor, and I run a workshop on depression, for churches and other organisations.  More details are on the website http://www.cathywield.com/  We would love to hear from you if we can be of help." 

Read complete article

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Powerful Embrace

Powerful Embrace from omphalos 

"Anxious I consulted my doctor.

This was 1997.

I was started on Seroxat (Paroxetine). In America this is Paxil.

Today (2014) I am still on Seroxat/Paxil (Paroxetine) 

17 years: this has indeed been a "powerful embrace". 

After I made this film (in 2011) several of my consultant psychiatrist colleagues expressed concern.  I had apparently brokered acceptable boundaries; my thoughts were loose and I was misguided, perhaps even "disordered".  Label upon label was how it felt to me."

The Utmost Discretion: How Presumed Prudence Leaves Children Susceptible to Electroshock

'The Utmost Discretion: How Presumed Prudence Leaves Children Susceptible to Electroshock
Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, Simon Adam, Peter Breggin, Brenda A. LeFrancois
Children & Society Volume 28, (2014) pp. 205-217 

"This article examines the controversial and largely publicly undocumented practice of administering electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or electroshock) to children who are undergoing psychiatric treatment. Conventional psychiatric beliefs and practices are challenged, along with a presentation of the history of scientific research which questions electroshock's 'effectiveness' and outlines its brain-damaging and incapacitating effects. 

As such, we provide counterarguments regarding the legitimacy of ECT as a treatment option, deconstructing the principle of presumed prudence in its use. Our analysis leads us to conclude that the 'principle of presumed prudence' should be eschewed in favour of the 'precautionary principle', in order to underscore and uphold the medical ethos 'to do no harm' and to ensure the application of children's rights within the psychiatric system."

c2014 John Wiley a Sons Ltd and National Childrell's Bureau
Keywords: children, electroshock, consent, psychiatry, rights, precautionary principle. 

Read complete article


'The Rights of Children and Parents In Regard to Children Receiving Psychiatric Diagnoses and Drugs' Peter Breggin

'The Rights of Children and Parents In Regard to Children Receiving Psychiatric Diagnoses and Drugs

Peter R. Breggin, Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Private Practice of Psychiatry, Ithaca, New York, USA
Children & Society Volume 28, (2014) pp. 231-241 

"Based on the author's extensive clinical, forensic and research experience, this article addresses the scientific and moral question of whether it is ever in the best interests of a child to be given a psychiatric drug. The focus is on the diagnosis Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and stimulant drugs, and on the diagnosis Bipolar Disorder and antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs. 

The conclusion is that we should work towards a prohibition against giving psychiatric drugs to children, and instead focus on safe and effective alternative ways of meeting the needs of children within their families, schools and society."

c2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and National Children's Bureau.
Keywords: children, mental health, rights. 

Read complete article


Saturday, 19 July 2014

the research I want to see - put forward at yesterday's Psychosis Research Event in Edinburgh University

My research ideas on post-its and how to get the job done.  For I do like action and not just words.  

First one

and how to go about it

second suggestion

and process

and last but not least

SMHRN is the Scottish Mental Health Research Network.

Let's do it!

sticks and stones

Yesterday after a fruitful day in Edinburgh I came home after 7pm to find a letter from a leader of a Scottish mental health organisation in response to a complaint I had made about a patronising worker.

As usual it was full of name calling and badmouthing.  Of me.  Such is the complaints system in Scotland's mental health world.  A right waste of time, in my experience.  But I will persist in speaking out.  

How does it go?  

Sticks and stones may break my bones (or venlafaxine) but names will never hurt me!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Psychiatric Interference

In this post I want to make the case as to why I am "critical" and not "anti" psychiatry although at times I can feel very "anti", because of being a survivor of psychiatric treatment and mental illness labels three times over and because all of my family through 3 generations have been targeted by psychiatry. The biomedical model of mental illness has dogged our footsteps with "family history of" in psychiatric notes and disorder labels from hebephrenic schizophrenia to schizoaffective to bipolar.  A progression  depending on our "performance" or as I like to see it the "whim" of a psychiatrist.  For I've never believed any of it and left the labels behind when tapering the drugs and getting off them and getting back on with my life in the real world.

In the 1960's when we first had a television it could at times get "interference" on the screen which meant we couldn't see the picture properly and the causes could be either just a blip requiring a thump to the box or a more permanent problem needing fixed by a TV engineer.  Psychiatry to my mind has similar problems with "interference", most particularly in its use of psychiatric drugs for any and every situation it is having to deal with.  It's much more than a blip and requires a system overhaul or paradigm shift.  A thump to the box won't do it.  We need to get into the workings and root out the defective parts, replacing them with new ones.

With psychiatry I think it's better the devil we know rather than doing away with it and getting something else in its place which could be much worse.  Remembering the olden days when witches were hunted by the church, sink or swim it made no difference, and mad people had demons cast out or were singled out for "special" treatment.  I don't want to go back to that and anyway I have at times found psychiatric treatment to be a refuge of sorts and psychiatrists to be people, usually in my experience men, who will work with me on my terms.  Eventually.  It takes some negotiation and determination not to be under their direction.  But I have been able personally to get out from under their authority even although on every occasion I was forced to comply and to swallow the drugs.

I didn't like being forced and would resist any compulsion in the future because I'm non-conformist in the real world and therefore non-compliant in the psychiatric setting.  It stands to reason.  I'm no different a person just because I'm in an altered mind state or psychosis.  That's normal for me and my family to experience altered mind states.  It's not normal for us to be forcibly injected with psychiatric drugs.  So I'm against coercive psychiatric treatment and drugs as the only tools of choice for mental health difficulties or emotional distress or altered mind states.  Many of my family members didn't mind being in a psychosis.  Some of us repeated the experience because we liked it so much.  Others of us didn't like it that much but we liked the treatment far less. 

Another psychiatric interference problem is what can be happening behind the closed doors of institutions, the dehumanising treatment by psychiatric nursing staff who are left to their own devices and are the sort of people who shouldn't be left in charge of anything that lives or breathes.  I use the expression: "I wouldn't put a cat or dog in this psychiatric hospital" to describe bad practice and mental health acts not being implemented or monitored.  It's a cultural problem that needs spoken about and the issues continually raised until improvements happen.  And how will we know that the culture has changed?  When all the patients and family members give positive feedback, not just the chosen few.  

In the UK we now have the Patient Opinion website where anyone can give feedback on their hospital experience: "An independent site about your experiences of UK health services, good or bad.
We pass your stories to the right people to make a difference.".  I've used this resource on a few occasions and found it helpful.  Recently the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil MSP said "We need the voices of patients and their families to be heard in a clearer way", ahead of a speech at a conference in June for NHS workers. 

I have every reason to believe that things can only get better in Scotland's mental health world.  And this includes psychiatric treatment.  

I want to see talking therapies available for everyone and not just those with "common mental health problems".  To have a choice of psychological or psychodynamic therapies when in an altered mind state is what I'm working towards.  The drugs didn't work for me and for other family members.  We want choice and not just drugs or nothing, forcibly given if resistant.  Interference. I believe that a more gentle transition when in a psychosis, bringing us back down to earth, will be less traumatic and more effective in the short and longer term.  The antipsychotic depressed me, the chlorpromazine in 1978/1984, and the risperidone in 2002.  The latter treatment leading to a psychiatric drug cocktail of venlafaxine and lithium.  The antidepressant gave me suicidal impulses and bone loss (fractured fibula in 3 places resulting in 6 inch metal plate inserted), and didn't lift my mood, so in fact ineffective and useless.  The "mood stabiliser" didn't stabilise my moods and I remained as flat as a pancake.

I was able to take charge of my own mental health, taper the drugs against the advice of the psychiatrist, and get back on with my life.  I told the psych doctor what I was doing and he tried to persuade me otherwise, saying I had a lifelong mental illness, spoke about the DSM at the time, it was 2003/4, but I told him I didn't believe it or in the chart of diagnoses.  I saw the same doctor about a year ago in the passing and caught his attention, telling him about my complete recovery against his direction.  He passed the buck, saying something to the effect that it wasn't his responsibility.  I wasn't impressed by his response despite the fact he was wearing full leathers and carried a motor bike helmet, in a psychiatric day hospital which I was visiting at the time.  It seemed that the female nurses were impressed by his stature and appearance as they fluttered around him as he departed.  I've had motor bikes in my time.  They were another means of transport.  I prefer a car these days.

I like to think we activists and campaigners are similar to that TV engineer sorting out the interference.  Getting in to the workings and rooting out the faulty parts.  Those of us who have been affected by the faulty parts and subject to the interference know what the remedy is, and what doesn't work, for us.  Our opinions matter because we have been at the sharp end, is how I see it.  You can describe it as "lived experience" or "experts by experience", describe us as "psychiatric survivors" or "recovered".  Whatever gives us the power to sort out the interference and to ensure that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Patient Safety conference November registration - response from Joanne Matthews, forwarded to NHS Fife Chief Exec

[Original blog post from 15 July 2014]

Here is a screenshot of an Email received just now from Joanne Matthews, Head of Scottish Patient Safety Programme, regarding my Email asking for a link to the registration for the 'Driving Improvements in Patient Safety' conference, November in Edinburgh.  The gist of which is that I should "engage with" NHS Fife to see if it is possible.

And here is my forwarded Email to the NHS Fife Chief Executive asking if I can in fact register/be considered for a place as advised by Joanne Matthews.  (I am skeptical of a positive outcome as I've been trying now for over 2 years to be included or involved in national patient safety events):

Intensive Psychiatric Care Units Overview Report June 2010 - truth or a whitewash?

Here is a link to the Intensive Psychiatric Care Units Overview Report June 2010 on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website:

I remember attending a "focus group" facilitated in The Cottage, Cupar, by the VOX Development Co-ordinator at the time who is still in post.  I had no experience then of the Fife IPCU.  Unfortunately in February 2012 my son found out the truth of it.  We have been picking up the pieces ever since.

Here are some quotes from the report:

from Ivan Carnegie, Co-chair, Service user and carer experience subgroup, in the foreword:
"It is clear from the interviews and focus groups that, in general, there is a high degree of well-structured and compassionate care provided in IPCUs."

And another quote from page 2:
"VOX Scotland organised a series of regional focus groups with former IPCU patients and carers. These were held between October 2009 and January 2010. A service user researcher from VOX Scotland facilitated the focus groups.

Between October 2009 and December 2009, the Mental Welfare Commission made announced visits to a number of IPCUs. Mental Welfare Commission practitioners met with willing volunteers to talk about their experiences of IPCUs."

from page 5: 
"What we did and why we did it":
"Our work has enhanced the information available and provides useful baseline data on the national picture with regard to IPCU provision."

from page 9 and the "Conclusions":
"It is clear that there are many dedicated staff across NHSScotland who are doing their very best to provide a good standard of care that meets the therapeutic and wellbeing needs of the diverse range of people who have contact with IPCUs."

from page 13:
"VOX Scotland used a grounded theory approach to develop the questions to ensure a focus on the correct areas, and to make sure that the sessions were adaptable based on the responses received."

from page 17:
"Generally, people thought that the care they had received was acceptable."

from page 23:
"Most people said that they felt safe when they were in an IPCU."

[I remember reading this report on IPCUs in 2010 and thinking they must be OK places.] 

I have Emailed the folk involved in fabricating this report and will have more to write on this anon ...  (the word whitewash comes to mind)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

'Driving Improvements in Patient Safety' conference November Edinburgh - I've Emailed Joanne Matthews for registration details

I've just noticed this tweet about the Scottish Patient Safety Programme conference coming up in November at the EICC:

So I've Emailed Joanne Matthews, Head of Scottish Patient Safety Programme, asking for the registration link as I am keen to attend.  Here is the screenshot of the Email:

Link to page that contains interview

Quotes from Joanne Matthews:

"safe, effective, person-centred care" 
"aims to reduce avoidable harm" 
"exciting time for Scottish Patient Safety Programme" 

Monday, 14 July 2014

rage against the machine

"we gotta take the power back"

Thinking of the different ways in which we engage with trick cyclists*.   Some of us were forced and others went willingly.  Same difference for if we don't agree to it then we're likely to be/gonna be forced.  It's inevitable in my experience.  
I've always known this since childhood and seeing my mother resist psychiatric treatment.  I knew that if my mother was resisting it then she had a good reason to be doing so.  

And then I found out for myself in 1978 when I resisted, was forcibly injected, then again in 1984, following painful, induced childbirths.  Detained in 2002 at the menopause and made to take the pills.  Same difference.  Breaking free.

I don't see myself ever voluntarily swallowing psychiatric drugs.  It's a matter of principle.  And also a matter of sense because the drugs don't work and don't agree with me.  They make me mentally ill.  I don't believe in mental illness so I cannot be a willing conscript.

Other would-be conscripts engage with me, telling me their stories and battles with trick cyclists.  They want me to feel their rage, pain and suffering.  And I do.  It's palpable.  It rests with me.

Time for a change.  A paradigm shift in psychiatric system thinking.  No more forcing drugs on to unwilling conscripts, shock treatment and brain surgery for mental illness.  These behaviours are nothing to be proud of.  

[*trick cyclist: slang for psychiatrist]

Saturday, 12 July 2014

IIMHL Manchester - 7 places available through VOX - who benefited? (updated with Denise Coia response)

Denise Coia, Chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland and consultant psychiatrist, has just responded to my Email, copying it to her HIS cohort.  Here is the screenshot:

and a transcript:
Denise Coia

"A bit anxious about this lady's direct contact with Joyce . Is ken handling all our organisations responses to this lady wherever they come in to ensure consistency . 

I am referred to as "this lady".  I wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing?  Not being given my name.   Mmmm ....

I responded to Denise, saying 'Hello from "this lady"' and telling her not to be anxious, although I'm not sure who "ken or Ken" is. 


Screenshot of Email just sent to Joyce Mouriki, VOX (Voices of eXperience) Board Chair and Senior Public Partnership Advisor at Healthcare Improvement Scotland.  Joyce also "sits as a general member of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland" and has "personal life experience of mental health problems" (according to the VOX website).

Here is the transcript:

"Joyce   (I'm using your Healthcare Improvement Scotland Email as I'm not sure if the other one I have is still in operation)

I am writing to you as chair of the VOX board of directors, to ask about the 7 places for people with lived experience that were administered through VOX, for attending the Manchester IIMHL.  I know that there were 2 nights at a hotel included as two women who had got places came up and spoke to me at the IIMHL conference, told me this.

I would like to know about the selection process, who got awarded the places (not names) and how many of the 7 were linked to VOX, whether as paid workers or on the VOX board.  From past experience (my 2009 IIMHL trip) I am aware that it has been the case that VOX tend to favour their own people.  However this may have changed/improved and less cronyism happens nowadays.  I don't know hence my enquiring.

I attended the Manchester IIMHL conference as an unpaid carer (£61/wk), activist and campaigner, paying my own travel and accommodation. (I'm a psychiatric survivor, recovered from serious mental illness, therefore I do not receive any welfare benefits)  I did this so as to network with other like-minded activists internationally and to be informed about the IIMHL work.  It was a useful experience for me even although it cost me to do so.  

At Manchester, as I remember, I saw yourself, Wendy McAuslan (I know because she at one point came up to me and spoke when I was putting sugar in my tea), Gordon Johnston, Isabella Goldie, and the two ladies who came up and introduced themselves to me at a tea break on the second day when I was chatting with Mary O'Hagan.  One from Flourish clubhouse and the other I think from a Lanarkshire project but not sure as I didn't take notes.  I didn't question the women as to who else was part of the group.  At the time I was more concerned about enjoying the double imhl experience, which I did.

I would like to know if yours and Wendy's participation was part of the 7 available places, and if indeed all the 7 places were taken up?  I assume that the work of VOX is transparent and accountable?  I would think the membership would have to know what VOX is doing.  My son is a VOX member.  I've been banned by VOX from attending events, bullied by VOX board members in Emails, so it has put me off being a member.  It goes against the grain for me to participate in an organisation that does not truly represent its membership and the variety of views.

I am copying in government folk, also VOX staff and advisers, according to your website, for their information, and Isabella Goldie*.  I will forward this Email on to others who may be interested.  I do hope to receive an answer to my questions and will be posting a screenshot copy of this Email on my blog so that others can also see what I have asked.  I have learned by experience to tell it how it is from my point of view and not to automatically expect fair treatment or justice in Scotland's mental health world.  

I call it "hierarchical shenanigans".

Yours, Chrys"

[*Isabella Goldie (a former psychiatric nurse) is Head of Scotland for the Mental Health Foundation which oversees VOX]

I plan to publish any response I get.

Friday, 11 July 2014

engineering consent - the art of manipulating people (Bernays)

"The central idea behind the engineering of consent is that the public or people should not be aware of the manipulation taking place." Wikipedia

I was thinking of focus groups and how in Scotland's mental health world we have a surfeit of these, often at the government's behest, and I've been at meetings organised by the (meant-to-be) national mental health user led organisation where the facilitator has wanted us to reach a "consensus".  

How daft.  For in a democracy there will always be, and should be, a range of opinions, for and against a motion or idea.  Otherwise we would be living in a totalitarian state.  Which it's often felt like to me since getting involved and up to my neck in mental health activism in Scotland.

I've been a community development worker since 1980, in South Lanarkshire then in Fife and surrounding areas, job wise.  It was always about empowerment, collective action, lifelong learning and being free to speak out.  I didn't expect the mental health world to be any different. 

It didn't take long, in 2008, to find out that it was a whole different ball game in Scotland's mental health world.  I'd recovered 3 times from psychiatric treatment following "psychoses".  Did it myself.  This seemed to be threat to the service user movement.  How dare I do it myself against the advice of psychiatry!  Huh.

I was non-conformist (non-compliant in psychiatric settings) and soon found out that the mental health leaders in Scotland didn't like it.  They couldn't "manage" me so they excluded me, badmouthing and backstabbing on occasion.  And so I retaliated.  I wasn't going to take it lying down.  

Since 2008 it's been a rollercoaster ride of thrust and parry, advance and retreat, trying to get meaningfully involved in this and that, mental health wise.  And now it's government high heid yins who are badmouthing me to my face.  Trying to silence my voice.  Targeting me.  Huh. 

I think it's high time that there was a shift in focus and a change of management style.  Level playing fields and straight paths.  Meaningful involvement of people with lived experience, service users and psychiatric survivors.  No more manipulation and game plays.  They are just a smoke screen for lack of leadership skills and management abilities.  In my opinion.

The Century of the Self - 4 Documentary films

This series is about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings profoundly. 

His influence on the 20th century is widely regarded as massive. The documentary describes the impact of Freud's theories on the perception of the human mind, and the ways public relations agencies and politicians have used this during the last 100 years for their engineering of consent. Among the main characters are Freud himself and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in advertising. He is often seen as the father of the public relations industry.

Freud's daughter Anna Freud, a pioneer of child psychology, is mentioned in the second part, as well as Wilhelm Reich, one of the main opponents of Freud's theories. Along these general themes, The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism, representative democracy and its implications. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitude to fashion and superficiality.


Thursday, 10 July 2014

what's happened to independent advocacy in Scotland, to speaking out and having a voice?

I got an abusive Email from a Scottish Government mental health division high heid yin on 24 June 2014 and have complained about it to an even higher heid yin.  

It seems that some civil servants can be uncivil without fear or favour.  They can do what they like, say what they like, to whoever they like and are not responsible or accountable for their actions.

How has it come to this?  I don't know as I'm just a spectator and commentator, sometimes a participant in consultations and a speaker at events but I'm not a high heid yin and I don't get paid for the privilege.

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" Hamlet 1:4, Marcellus to Horatio

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Creepy Disorder (DSM-V category F5.0666)

Just heard from a (trust me I'm a) doctor friend about a new DSM category "Creepy Disorder" DSM-V category F5.0666.  (He was joking ha ha!)

But seriously I think it could catch on.  Don't you?  

No doubt like me you'll have met these folk, often men, who seem a bit odd, unusual, quirky, unreadable, humourless, manipulative, insecure, mother fixated, small minded etc.  A DSM slot would fit the bill nicely.  Done and dusted.  

It would make a change from targeting mothers and wayward children.  In my opinion.

(I'm the one with the spray can)

non-compliant health boards, uncivil servants and project ginsberg

(that's me in the ponytail)
It's the topsy turvy world of Scottish Government's mental health division where it seems the high and mighty reign in power, beyond the reach of public opinion. Targeting health boards with HEAT and badmouthing unpaid carers with unkind words. 

The reward for hitting targets and keeping order is promotion to higher places.  Or maybe to the level of their own incompetence?  Who knows.  The truth is hard to find and the ones who are having to suffer for it don't know why. 

There are meant to be Registers of Interest in every Scottish health board area (see HDL (2003) 62) where doctors and NHS staff declare monies earned outwith their real job, in particular any links or posts with Big Pharma.  But many boards don't have registers and the ones that do, well the declarations from some tell us very little of what's going on.  

Who is in cahoots with drug companies?  What psychiatrists are buddies with pharma, in their pay and under their influence?  Why is government doing nothing about it?

As a campaigner against forced psychiatric treatment, given to the "non-compliant", I find it ironic and very annoying that non-compliant health boards are getting away with it.  Why does the uncivil civil servant on high not target the health boards instead of targeting activists who are doing his job for him?

No doubt my writing about it will bring on more shrapnel.  So be it.  I won't back down.

I am not happy about the mental health strategy's separation of the "common mental health problems" from the "severe and enduring mentally ill".  That's stigmatising and discriminatory.  As if recovery is for some and not for all.  

Project Ginsberg, known as the lead person's "baby": "Our mission is to help people become happier and cope better with everyday life.".  There is mention of "insight" magically developed in 6 to 8 weeks using their "insight engine".  
Magic wand?

Some of us have been working on gaining insight for over 40 years.  Discovering that the more we know the less we know. 

"We want to get you up and running to a happier you as quickly as possible."  That's nice but is it SMART? Realistic, achievable, quantifiable?  What are the targets?  Outcomes? 

More about Ginsberg anon.

Footnote re Ginsberg name: "The most famous person lobotomized at Pilgrim was Allen Ginsberg's mother, Naomi. She was a troubled soul, and Allen himself, at the time a 21-year-old graduate student, authorized Pilgrim to perform a lobotomy on her in 1947." from The scary days when thousands were lobotomized on Long Island

Monday, 7 July 2014

Healthcare Improvement Scotland filming spend increasing year on year (unlike carers' allowance)

For information, here is an FOI Request response, courtesy of Dr Peter Gordon, received on 4 July 2014, with a breakdown of costs incurred by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) "making, developing and promoting through film", Video and Photography costs, since they "came into existence" on 1st April 2011.  A total of £89,233.

Note the payment of £13,350 for a Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) film.  
(I am hoping this was not for the Stratheden Hospital based film, prompted by HIS, on the topic of restraint which I had to complain about, when finding it on the SPSP-MH website, and get it removed.  Twice.)

screenshot of "fun stuff" video on SPSP-MH website October 2013

I'm just an unpaid carer on £61/week, and mother, who has been singlehandedly picking up the pieces after traumatic dehumanising psychiatric treatment of my son in Stratheden Hospital in February 2012, but I am thinking that £90K is no small amount.  

I am wondering if the content of these films justifies the amount of money spent on them?  I do hope that someone, somewhere, is holding Healthcare Improvement Scotland to account and making sure they do what it says on the tin.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Jimmy Carter address on "the global scourge of discrimination and violence against women" 2009 Melbourne

"I am pleased to address the Parliament of World Religions about the vital role of religion in providing a foundation for – or correcting – the global scourge of discrimination and violence against women. As will be seen, my remarks represent the personal views of a Christian layman and a former political leader."

"Having served as local, state, national, and world leaders, we understand why many public officials can be reluctant to question ancient religious and traditional premises – an arena of great power and sensitivity. Despite this, we are calling on all those with influence to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices – in religious and secular life– that justify discrimination against women and to acknowledge and emphasize the positive messages of equality and human dignity."