Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Dear Dr Baldacchino: CAMILLE project work with children of "mentally ill" parents: "early tracing and prophylactic measures"

Letter just sent by Email to Dr Alex Baldacchino, NHS Fife and Dundee University, about the CAMILLE project which he and leaders at Playfield Institute, Stratheden, are involved with.

Dundee University page link

Strapline: Camille project work with children of "mentally ill" parents: "early tracing and prophylactic measures"

Dear Dr Baldacchino

I am writing to you as the main contact for the "Camille" project, a piece of collaborative work between NHS Fife and Dundee University, with European funding.  To ask for further information. 

Allan Burns, Chair of the Fife health board told me about this project today, when we chatted at lunch time during the board meeting in Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline

And so I did an internet search and came up with this description on the Middlesex University website:


"The main objective of the CAMILLE project is to qualify and promote inter-professional and cross-sectional efforts concerning exposed children and adolescents of mentally ill parents and their families in order to initiate early tracing and prophylactic measures, and promoting physical, psychosocial and mental health in general. The aim is to prevent the rise of children's or adolescent's psychosocial symptoms."  bolding is mine

Can you please explain in more detail about the phrase "early tracing and prophylactic measures"?  

I would appreciate any information that you can give me about the Camille Project.  I cannot find much detail about it from the Dundee University  website or from the Playfield Institute whose staff seem to also be partners eg Dr Wendy Simpson:

"With CARES, Wendy is working on the EU funded CAMILLE study – Empowerment of children and adolescents of mentally ill parents through training of professionals"

For your information, I was a youth and children's worker in communities for over 20 years (I'm now 62) and am a qualified community worker and FE lecturer, care subjects (postgraduate awards), a reflective practitioner.   Community work was always about empowerment and lifelong learning.  This meant encouraging resilience, independent thinking and facilitating learning.  Alongside people.  Level playing fields.

I am a psychiatric survivor and have recovered from "mental illness" on 3 separate occasions in my life, and have helped family members do the same.  I did this personally by tapering the psychotropic drugs, under my own strength, without the support of psychiatrists.  

I am now a mental health writer, activist and campaigner, and will put this Email in a blog post for others to see.  The psychiatric drugging of children and young people, who are under the age of capacity, very much concerns me.  I did not like swallowing psychotropic drugs.  They took away my agency and caused serious side effects in the short term.  I know that in the longer term these drugs cause physical illness and chronicity.  Giving such powerful drugs to children with developing brains, to my mind, is a step too far.

I look forward to hearing from you, and receiving information about the Camille project and Fife's part in this. 

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)

cc Wendy Simpson, Graham Buchanan, Graham Monteith, Paul Hawkins, Allan Burns, Valerie Muir"

Sunday, 28 June 2015

my family: the solidarity of being in psychosis and surviving psychiatric treatment (no scapegoating)

mum & dad August 1952, month before my birth
This is a blog post in response to the presentations by psychiatrists at the Scottish Schizophrenia Survey seminar I attended on 25 June 2015 in Edinburgh University, 50 George Square.  It is a riposte to the notion that mental illness and schizophrenia can be found in the genes.  Particularly directed towards and written for Sir Robin Murray and Prof Stephen Lawrie who I will send this to, by Email.

My family have had the privilege of being in solidarity by experiencing psychoses and surviving psychiatric treatment and labelling in Scotland, eight of us over 3 generations, 4 women and 4 men up to this point, helping each other in and out of psychiatric settings, resisting scapegoating and lifelong prognoses of mental illness.  A variety of labels pinned on us, in the "notes".

It started with my parents, both of them, mother and father, in solidarity.  My mother experiencing the most or the worst of it.  Many courses of ECT and forced drug treatment in Murray Royal Hospital, Perth, when in mental distress, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia in her "notes".  Eventually a depot injection of Depixol until the day she died.  My opinion?  That was no way to treat a lady.

My mother during these years of "special treatment" looked after me and my two younger sisters, often singlehandedly because my father, a sci-fi writer with the Daily Express (Jeff Hawke), was away in London, at Fleet Street, with his work.  She was a good mother and homemaker, a seamstress, cook, baker, a gentle woman who didn't go on about the psychiatric treatment after discharge.  She kept it to herself, for the most part.  My mother's strength was in her ability to withstand and in her faithfulness to her family until she died in 1998, aged 68, in the Adamson Hospital, Cupar.  A good death.
Eventually my father succumbed to extreme mental distress due to the pressures of work, and his contract was terminated, he stayed down in London while we remained in Perth, 1969.  Because he also, in around 1963, had experienced a spell in Murray Royal and knew the score.  No doubt it was easier to be mad in London and avoid hospitalisation than to come back to Perth where his "notes" were.  He shared his home in London with a woman who was a nurse.  I went down to check on him in 1971, to see that he was OK, and he was.  I never saw him again on this earth although we were in touch by letter, on occasion.  He died in 1986, aged 57.  My middle sister and I attended his funeral at Kensal Green, London.
my dad in his 30's

My father wanted me to come down to London in 1970, to train to be a nurse, but I stayed in Scotland and went up to Aberdeen University that year to do an MA in Accountancy, maths was my "thing".  Unfortunately my father's mother, my granny, had died in the July and my grandpa was heartbroken.  My mother had another psychiatric inpatient stay that summer but was discharged the day that I went up by train to Aberdeen, my 18th birthday.  My younger sisters had been taken into temporary foster care through the summer after my granny's death, my auntie having brought in the social work.
my mum in her 30's

Bringing the social work into our family was not all bad but neither was it all good.  For once you are on their books they can interfere in your business or be there to support, depending on how you look at it.  We had a bit of both with the social work.  My sisters who were 9 and 14 years younger than me ended up being fostered longer term although both returned to live with my mother when aged 16-18 and the money, and support, from social work stopped.  

my mum in her 40's
Both my sisters won places at the RSAMD in Glasgow, were in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and are accomplished musicians, woodwind and piano, and singers like me.  My youngest sister prior to this had won a place at St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh when about 11yrs old, was a boarder and eventually stayed with me in the holidays, in Lanarkshire where we lived at the time, late 1970's, early 1980's.  She was the first female head chorister at St Mary's and achieved a distinction in Grade 8 oboe and piano.  

my boys in M&S outfits 1985
I used to go to Glasgow to hear my middle sister play in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, second clarinet, when she was a student at the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama), late 1970's, early 80's.  I would also go to Edinburgh, St Mary's Cathedral, around the same time, to hear my youngest sister play oboe or sing in the choir.  My mother got a paid job in Perth, working in a factory that made clothes for M&S.  She would send outfits to my boys and we would visit with each other, keeping in touch.  

My sisters experienced psychoses and psychiatric treatment in their late teenage years, on transition to adulthood, similar to my 3 sons.  I didn't have this and my psychoses were puerperal and menopausal, due to painful induced
me & oldest son 1980
childbirths and hormonal change, with spiritual experiences.  My youngest sister and my youngest son have both suffered the most due to "family history of" in psychiatric notes.  I believe because they were subject to "special treatment" in the same psychiatric settings as their mothers.  My earlier psychoses and psychiatric treatment was in Hartwoodhill, Lanarkshire, where they didn't have any family "notes".  I knew at the time that I was lucky and managed to taper the Chlorpromazine within the year, after episodes in 1978 and 1984.  Got back on with my life.

1998 with 2 older sons
My oldest son managed to escape "lifelong mental illness" despite experiencing a critical incident due to one shock/ECT which went wrong, in Stratheden Hospital.  Rushed to Ninewells Hospital.  Eventually recovered, tapered the drugs, within the year.  Got back to university, achieving a 1st class honours in mechanical engineering in 1998, the year I got my first postgraduate qualification, in community education.  He has worked mainly in computer-aided design with the oil industry but this year is changing career, starting a Masters in Music Therapy at Queen Margaret's in Edinburgh.

My family are imaginative and creative people who feel things deeply and on occasion these have been externalised as altered mind states, psychoses, extreme mental distress, when faced with painful life events, trauma and transition.  If we had internalised the pain and experienced physical health issues and illness then our treatment would have been different.  No stigma or discrimination and no mental illness labels to dog our steps.  A far more respectable label and acceptable illness.

1999 at sister's wedding
I do not appreciate the fact that my family has been targeted by psychiatry due to our sensitivity to life pain and expressing it through psychoses and mental distress.  We did not deserve to be forcibly drugged into compliance and labelled with disorders because we resisted the "special treatment".  I do not accept that mental distress equates to mental illness.  If the treatment doesn't alleviate the pain and the drugs don't work then it is shameful to be blaming the person.  Rather it's the system at fault and the wrong tools for the job.

Doctors Murray, Lawrie and their cohort may justify taking money from big pharma by focusing on genes but that doesn't mean they are right in doing so or that we have to believe in what they are doing.  Nothing is proven.  It's all pie in the sky, speculation and like searching for the holy grail, Indiana Jones style.  To my mind.  Boys and their toys.  I should know something of this, having brought up 3 sons and supported them in and out of the psychiatric system.  Picking up the pieces after dehumanising, traumatic psychiatric treatment.
me & Daniel on my birthday Sep14

We need to stop scapegoating the mentally ill and labelling people who experience altered mind states with schizophrenias and schizoaffective disorders because the drugs don't work.  Some of us don't like the drugs, they don't agree with us, we resist because of this and it makes sense, to us.  If you want to do research then focus more on the psychological treatments and how to make them better, more effective.  Give us choices.  Not just drugs, forced in if non-compliant.  

As a survivor of mental illness and psychiatric treatment here is my advice to the psychiatrists who are looking for the causes of mental distress and trauma in the genes: Be more creative in your scientific exploration.  Use your grey matter.  Think broader and wider.  Existentially, spiritually.  Narrow-minded thinking is unproductive and ultimately may lead down dead-end roads, wasting time and energy.  You can do better and I hope to see evidence of this.  I am confident that you will see sense.


50 George Square, Edinburgh
blog post 26 June 2015: tweeting from Psychosis/Schizophrenia seminar 25Jun15 Edinburgh led by Sir Robin, his band of merry men & a few Maid Marians

storify: seminar on Scottish Schizophrenia Survey 25Jun15: an event I didn't get banned from @suppinmindscot

Saturday, 27 June 2015

my impressions of spectating @ScotParl Mental Health Bill debate 24 June 2015 (sent to MSPs in Email)

Here is an Email sent this morning, 27 June 2015, to fellow human rights campaigners and MSPs, about spectating in Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, 24 June 2015, during the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill debate:

Strapline: Re: 2003 Mental Health Act debate 24 Jun, most SNP MSPs on mobile devices, voting against - in Feb12, Stratheden Fife the MH Act safeguards were not safe

"To whom it may concern:

with comrades in Scottish Parliament after debate
I was there spectating at the Mental Health Bill debate in Scottish Parliament on 24 June 2015, for most of the time, having to go out every now and then for drink of water or cup of tea.

Although in one sense it was good to see a large number of MSPs in the house to debate the Bill, in fact many of them were on their mobile devices doing other business or speaking to their colleagues sitting next to them.  I viewed all of this going on.  And they had to be brought to order on at least one occasion for making too much noise.

I saw Alex Salmond MSP talking away to Fiona Hyslop MSP, sitting side on, for quite a time, obviously catching up, although it seemed to be more of a one-way conversation as Ms Hyslop was using her mobile device.  Mr Salmond appeared to be voting on the amendments (not sure why, since he is an MP, not an MSP).  Then I saw him say his farewells to a number of his colleagues before leaving.  

I saw my own MSP Rod Campbell on his mobile device, a tablet, and working on documents throughout the session.  Or speaking with colleagues sitting next to him.  I saw Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, on her iPad or tablet, for most of the time, sitting in the front row.

As a spectator I was sitting to the back of the chamber and had a good view of all the MSPs and what they were up to.  The main protagonists were Jamie Hepburn MSP who read from his notes in a monotone voice as if they had been written by someone else and this was his first time of reading them.  Apologies Mr Hepburn if this is not the case.  That's how it came over to me.  Compare this to Richard Simpson MSP who spoke articulately and with passion about the amendments which he proposed and why they were important for patients and carers.  In fact Mr Simpson of anyone did put a lot of effort into his delivery. 
Mary Brooksbank Jute Mill Song
This is what I witnessed.

I had sat through the Education debate and then the discussions on the Calmac issue.  I noticed there was far more passion and engagement on these topics, on some occasions even a stamping of feet, to emphasise conviction.  I never saw any of this at the MH Bill debate.  Apart from the opposition MSPs, particularly the old guard like Simpson, Chisholm and Scanlon, who have advocated faithfully for the mentally ill in the chamber for 14 years or more.  Well done to them. 

It concerns me as to what will happen when these old faithful MSPs leave the building.  And we are left with a large contingent of SNP MSPs who seem to be more interested in socialising with their fellow ministers and catching up with matters on their mobile devices, than on the human rights of the mentally ill and their carers.

It does not inspire me with hope.  It makes me want to stand in the Holyrood chamber and speak out along with the Opposition.

Yours faithfully,

Chrys Muirhead

Unwaged carer, mother, grandmother, pensioner, activist, campaigner, writer"
More Edinburgh photies:

Waverley station
John Knox House purportedly

inside Scottish Parliament taking a refreshment break from debate

Friday, 26 June 2015

Carers Parliament 2014 Report: my question to @MathesonMichael MSP about Cinderella service

Yesterday after getting home from the Psychosis/Schizophrenia seminar at Edinburgh University I found that the Carers Parliament 2014 Report had come through the letterbox.  

And my question to Michael Matheson MSP, then Minister for Public Health, was on page 19:

from Carers Parliament 2014 Report

[I had to correct the spelling of my name, do an edit or some marginalia]

from page 18 of report


my blog post on 24 December 2013:  mental health "cinderella" service - who will be Prince Charming?:

A Christmas letter to Michael Matheson, MSP, Minister for Public Health, Scottish Government:

Dear Mr Matheson

I attended the fringe event on mental health at the SNP conference in October, held in the George Hotel, Perth, my home town, where you spoke about mental health being the "cinderella" service.  At the same top table were SAMH and Mental Health Foundation managers who spoke of £1.5 million pounds a year now being devoted to challenging mental health stigma and discrimination, through their joint work with See Me.

At the same conference I heard the figure of around £4500 per week for the cost of one acute inpatient bed in general hospitals.  I have made FOI requests to both NHS Tayside and NHS Fife boards, regarding the cost of an acute psychiatric inpatient bed per week.  Which is £3000/week for Tayside and around £2000-2500/week for Fife.  Therefore about 50% more is spent in general acute inpatient services compared to the psychiatric equivalent.

At this festive time of year when goodwill and hope abounds I am wondering who will be Prince Charming and rescue the "cinderella" service of mental health?  Who will bring psychiatric services up to the level of general health services in monetary terms?  So that those of us finding ourselves in the fairy tale land of make believe, or psychiatric setting, won't have to wish upon a lucky star but will be supported by a well resourced service.

I am looking forward to a Guid New Year which is better than the one we're leaving behind.  Where mental health difficulties are seen as no respecter of persons.  Where people are people whether in psychiatric settings or in general hospitals.  Where psychiatric labels lose their power and psychiatric patients gain more rights.  To speak out, to be heard and to be taken seriously.  A range of voices.  

A toast:  Here's tae us, wha's like us, damn few an' they're a' deid!

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead

mother, grandmother, writer, activist, campaigner

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Mental Health Bill debate @ScotParl today 24 Jun15; Mental Health Act did not protect against psychiatric abuse Feb12

Here is the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill page on the Scottish Parliament website.

Today, 24 June 2015, Stage 3 proceedings of the MH Bill will be debated in parliament.

link to Business Bulletin 24 June 2015

 Marshalled List of Amendments selected for Stage 3

 Groupings of Amendments for Stage 3


I plan to spectate at the debate which for me will be a challenge as I'm more of an action person and a writer than someone who likes listening to debates about legislation and word changes.  Because it's been my experience that what's written down in the Scottish Mental Health Act as it stands at present hasn't been implemented properly or monitored effectively in Fife where I live.

The safeguards in the Act were not safe in practice, in Stratheden Hospital, February 2012.  The Principles contained within the Act were not followed or adhered to, in respect of my son's psychiatric treatment or mine.  Therefore the legislation was nothing more than a piece of paper which was disregarded by psychiatric nursing staff.  No accountability.  No management responsibility.

Following our exposure of the human rights abuses in the Stratheden IPCU the NHS Fife health board were awarded £4.4million from Scottish Government to build a new IPCU that was "fit for purpose".  We got nothing except more abuse.  I was blamed in an Adult Investigation Report headed up by Fife Council Social Work Service.  And then singlehandedly had to raise complaints, eventually to the Ombudsman, all the time being excluded from events like the Scottish Patient Safety Programme and the Scottish Crisis and Acute Care Network steering group.

Sent out of the room for speaking the truth about psychiatric abuse.  


It was a year ago today that senior civil servant Geoff Huggins bullied and slandered me in an Email, that caused me upset and physical ill health:

I made a complaint to Scottish Government, it wasn't upheld by Paul Gray.  I took the complaint further, it was investigated again by civil servants, and again it wasn't upheld. 

There is no justice in Scottish mental health matters or in Scottish Government when a mother speaks out about her son's abuse in psychiatric settings.  I will keep speaking out until justice is done.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

my comment on Herald article @naysmithHT 22 June 2015 about "delirium as a medical emergency"

'NHS should view delirium as a medical emergency, experts warn' by Stephen Naysmith, social affairs correspondent, in the Herald Scotland on 22 June 2015:

"Delirium is now viewed as a medical emergency as serious as stroke, heart attack and pneumonia, and can leave patients at eight times the risk of contracting dementia.

However, detection rates have been described by one Scottish expert as 'dismal' and until recently nurses would explain to patients that "older people always get confused when they come into hospital". ..."

and my comment, still being moderated:

"It's disappointing not to see a more balanced report on the condition known as "delirium".  Including questioning or critical voices in the mix.  It reads like the Healthcare Improvement Scotland party line and a PR exercise. 

Prof Alastair MacLullich has developed a Delirium "tool" called the 4AT which  is promoted extensively by HIS while still to be validated.  Experienced doctors would say that to diagnose the causes of delirium cannot be done in a few minutes, regardless of the claim made by the 4AT promoters.

Here is a post by Dr Peter J Gordon, consultant psychiatrist for older people, and writer, which explains some of the issues - 'Re-labelling (and a bit)':


Where Dr Gordon mentions the rebranding of the 4AT from a "screening instrument for cognitive impairment and delirium" to a "rapid assessment test for delirium" while being under validation. 

I would recommend that HIS be more careful with their "tools".  A screwdriver is not the same as a hammer.  And neither is of much use when it comes to the intricate workings of a computer, except of course if you want to open it up or smash it to pieces."


 On Hole Ousia website 22 June 2015: Promises to listen to our elders

meeting with the @nhsfife Patients Relations Manager 22 June 2015

selfie taken after meeting, St Catherine St, Cupar
Here are some notes from and reflections on my meeting yesterday, 22 June 2015, with the NHS Fife Patients Relations Manager in the County Buildings Cupar.

Firstly, we met for over two hours and I would say that we were on the same page, regarding complaints in psychiatric settings, and about many other topics.  We agreed that there weren't many people coming forward with issues about mental health services, from the statistics, and the risks of retaliation are real if being critical about psychiatric treatment.

[However I am looking for action and not just managers agreeing with what I'm saying]

I spoke about how people are coming to me with their complaints eg the mother whose son was being locked in the IPCU seclusion room last September 2014.  He had 2 acquired brain injuries and the drug regime was over-sedating him.  This mother said in her second Email to me: 

"To answer your question re the seclusion room - YES it is still currently being used - my son has been in it on a few occasions during the past week!!!"

5 October article Scottish Sunday Express
I have since heard that from October 2014 the seclusion room has ceased to be in use.  I presume this happened after my successful Ombudsman case, decision came in end of September 2014, where my complaint against NHS Fife was upheld, regarding my son's "unreasonable treatment" in Stratheden Hospital:

If people are coming to me and complaining it means that concerns and complaints in psychiatric settings are not being listened to.  

The Manager told me about 3 initiatives ongoing in NHS Fife to try and encourage more feedback:
And she will send me more information about these so that I can be informed and also give my opinion.  I already know about and have used Patient Opinion.  It was useful, up to a point, but I believe it is more of a health board tool than a means of empowerment for a patient who has received sub-standard treatment.

I spoke in some detail about particular staff at Stratheden Hospital involved in practices that were risky and inappropriate, in 2010 and 2012, that I had witnessed, naming the nurses.  Some of whom had family members working in the hospital, also involved in the mistreatment of my son eg father and son nurses in Lomond Ward, husband and wife nurses in Lomond/IPCU, Feb12.  (blog post: keeping it in the family)  I remember writing an Email to the Acting General Manager about this.  

I am not happy that the Senior Charge Nurse who was in charge of the Stratheden IPCU in February 2012, when my son had his basic human rights denied, is still in the same position.  I heard this recently at the information session about the new build IPCU.  This SCN told me on 2Feb12 over the phone that her ward was all about "relationships".  

[I believed her.  Until I found out on 4Feb12 what the true state of affairs was.  She hadn't mentioned locking my son in the seclusion room overnight, in the dark, for hours on end, unobserved, at risk to his life.  She hadn't told me about my son's broken hand.  She hadn't arranged for an X-ray.  I had to instruct the ward Junior Dr Chan to do this.  I asked if they had a portable X-ray, was told no.  My son got an X-ray on 6Feb12 which confirmed the breaks in his hand.  I was there as a witness.

I mentioned the word "fear" to the Patient Relations Manager, as being one of the main reasons as to why patients and carers in psychiatric settings will not want to give negative feedback.  Fear of retaliation.  Fear of not getting a good service in the future.  Fear of what it might mean to the person they care for.  I raised concerns about Stratheden nursing practice in 2010 and believe that this impacted negatively on my son's care in 2012. 

I spoke to the Manager about Fife Council Social Workers who I also had to make complaints about in Feb12.  And the Adult Protection Investigation Report led by a Mental Health Officer, which tried to put the blame on me for causing psychological harm to my son when he was being locked in the seclusion room and being subject to psychiatric abuse.  Their investigation, I contend, was biased towards the psychiatric service and against a carer and her son.  Unbalanced reporting. 

We discussed other matters to do with NHS Fife, the health board meetings which I spectate at, and something of our personal stories, shared experiences.

I suggested to the Manager that we might collaborate on a joint event, a workshop or seminar for mental health staff in Fife.  I offered to co-present and faciliate, free of charge, no expenses.  I am an experienced, qualified community education worker and trainer since 1980, and have organised many events through my voluntary work with Peer Support Fife.  Not sure if my offer will be taken up.  But I have left it on the table.

I also gave a copy of a recent blog post to the Manager: here is the challenge: making it safe to complain in psychiatric settings.  Which had a list of proposals regarding meaningful involvement of experts by experience:

"Here are some ways in which I think the pathway to complaining can be made straighter:
  • putting Experts by Experience (EbE) at the heart of the process
  • safeguards in place which are safe 
  • confidentiality scrupulously adhered to
  • management ensuring regular training of staff in responding to complaints, involving EbE who may be service users, psychiatric survivors, carers or family members with a range of views
  • de-personalising the procedure, taking away any "blame" aspect
  • training of managers in how to write letters of response to complaints which are neutral and blameless
I believe that the meaningful involvement of EbE, in staff training programmes and debriefing sessions, is paramount in bringing about cultural change in psychiatric settings where people are not free to speak out without fear of retribution.  A range of experiences, from those who welcomed compulsory treatment to those who resisted with all their might."

Although I found the meeting with the NHS Fife Patient Relations Manager to be useful it does not mean that I can stop being a writer, activist and campaigner in mental health matters.  It does not mean that I can stop speaking out about psychiatric abuse.  It does not mean that I believe there has been justice done in respect of what happened to my son in Stratheden Hospital, February and March, 2012.

What it does mean is that I am prepared to work collaboratively with NHS Fife and Fife Council staff so as to make it safer for people engaging with psychiatric services, as a patient or carer, to raise complaints and to speak out with a critical voice about poor or bad practice.  The challenge will be as to whether NHS Fife and Fife Council Social Work Managers are willing to work with me, on a level playing field, as equals, listening to my voice without being patronising or straitjackets appearing.  


cartoon is directed towards management in Fife mental health services, generally

Monday, 22 June 2015

Letter to Bipolar Scotland about switching roles, doing less polarised pieces and getting psychiatrists to swallow their own pills

Sent just now in an Email to the chief exec of Bipolar Scotland who had responded to my earlier correspondence about Dr Donny Lyons article on rights:

Strapline: I recommend that doctors Lyons and Smith taste it and see (the drugs), that BS sort out the polarised pieces and do a switch, role wise 

"I would recommend that, in the future, Bipolar Scotland gives space to another viewpoint about human rights in psychiatric settings.  To bring balance. 

What I see in your newsletter are polarised pieces.  On the one hand from people who experience a bipolar condition writing about their day-to-day affairs, things like what the cat is getting up to or not being able to boil an egg for fear of the pan running dry (I've been there).  On the other hand from so-called "experts" like Donny Lyons and Danny Smith who are getting paid bucketloads of dosh to pontificate about topics they have no personal experience of.

I say to these "professionals": swallow the medication and see how you can function.  Try a spell under detention in a locked psychiatric ward, refuse the 25mgs of Haloperidol in a syringe, and see what happens.  Try pontificating when a mental patient and watch what gets written in the "notes".  Delusions of grandeur.  Out of touch with reality.  Difficult and demanding mother.  Non-compliant.  Has anosognosia.

It's called disempowerment and denial of basic human rights.  You won't know what it's like until it happens to you.  Human rights get left at the door if you enter with a mind of your own.  It will soon be taken away from you.  Any independence of thought.

Why don't you do a switch the next time around.  Get the EbE to give advice on drug doses and tapering.  Get the psychiatrists to speak about their difficulties in the kitchen or in their personal relationships.  I think your readership would love to hear about these sort of topics.  You might even find you could greatly increase your membership.  Turning the tables.

I'd even pay to read these sorts of stories.  I hope that you might consider my suggestions.  It could revolutionise the state of Bipolar in Scotland

Regards, Chrys"

Sunday, 21 June 2015

the interchangeable sticky labels and drug pedalling of biological psychiatry

[warning: this is a critical blog post about psychiatric diagnoses and drug prescribing]

I've been reading through the SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) guidelines on Schizophrenia (131) March 2013 and Bipolar Affective Disorder (82) May 2005.  I notice there is also a link from number 131 on SZ to "Management of Perinatal Mood Disorders" March 2012, number 27.  (pick a number)

What bothers me about psychiatric diagnoses/labels is their subjectivity and what amounts to a stab in the dark as to what is "wrong" with a person who ends up a psychiatric patient.  I've known many people who have started off with one diagnosis and ended up with another or have gone through many of the disorder labels in the course of their "mental illness".

The one constant on their journey is the drug prescribing, from antipsychotics to antidepressants via "mood stabilisers" and benzodiazepines.  Polypharmacy as a means of control and "management" of symptoms.  Heaping drug upon drug to deal with side effects until a person doesn't know if they are coming or going.  Which is how I eventually felt on Risperidone, Venlafaxine and Lithium in 2002/3.  Experiencing anxiety attacks and having to take the occasional Lorazepam, an addictive benzo.

I use the inverted commas to signify psychiatric language which has a double meaning.  For example: management of symptoms equals controlling behaviour; mood stabiliser equals controlling behaviour and antipsychotic side effects; mental illness equates to having a mental health issue which the drugs don't cure and often exacerbate, causing debilitating side effects and long term chronicity.

I'm not a fan of drugs, of any sort.  Regardless of them being called "medication".  When we were children, in my generation, 1950's, we had to hold our noses to swallow medicine in liquid form.  It tasted horrible.  So did the cod liver oil.  Although the malt extract wasn't so bad.  We cried when getting the polio injections and eventually the drug went into sugar cubes. 

I remember queuing up at Perth Academy to get the BCG in a jag, aged about 13.  A vaccine against Tuberculosis.  Some pupils fainted, a few had the misfortune of the needle breaking in their arm.  Others of us just took a deep breath, got it over with.  However I never got the Smallpox vaccination when a baby in the early 1950's which left a scar on the upper arm.  I assume because my father didn't want me to have it, the risk of adverse side effects.

My father didn't follow the crowd, was ahead of the game.  One of a kind, he did things in a big way, like setting up fireworks displays for the community where we lived near the rail station in Perth, Scotland.  Or getting us ringside seats at Billy Smart's Circus and meeting Coco the Clown.  A sartorial dresser with handmade suits, cravats, waistcoats, bow ties.  Listening to German opera on the record player which meant we couldn't get to watch the TV.

I'm glad to have inherited my father's independent thinking.  It's stood me in good stead when it came to engaging with psychiatry and being forced to conform and swallow the medicine.  In the early days they had to hold me down and forcibly inject the Chlorpromazine into my rear end when I wouldn't be persuaded to take the pill.  When voluntary patient meant nothing of the kind.  Nowadays they use the Mental Health Act to coerce and control. 

It's got worse. The proliferation of psychiatric drugs, polypharmacy, cocktails of antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilisers and benzos.  None of them any better than the ones that came before.  More difficult to taper and get off even if the side effects initially feel less severe.  Conning a person into a drug regime and sticky labels.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Hunter Watson Paper: Section 242 of Scottish Mental Health Act 2003: is it ECHR compatible?

Press and Journal article April 2015
Hunter Watson, Human Rights Campaigner, Aberdeen, in an Email sent to MSPs and fellow mental health campaigners on 20 June 2015: 

"In the attached paper I point out that section 242 of the 2003 Act authorises the compulsory treatment of an adult with capacity. That is contrary to the advice of the Millan Committee, the committee that produced the report upon which the 2003 Act is based. 

The paper also draws attention to the fact that a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights makes it clear that the Court assumed that an adult with capacity must not be subjected to compulsory treatment. That was made explicit in a recent judgment of the Supreme Court. 

Further, a general comment made by UN Committee last year clearly demonstrates that it takes it for granted that persons with legal capacity have the right to refuse treatment. (Its only concern is that psychiatrists and others might be too ready to assume that people with a mental disorder lack capacity.)

There is a high probability that section 242 of the 2003 Act is not compatible with some Convention rights and hence, by virtue of section 29 of the Scotland Act, that the 2003 Act is not law. The Minister should not be permitted to evade making detailed responses to the points made in the attached paper by again claiming that he is confident that the 2003 Act, underpinned by the Millan principles, is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Minister should instead put in place without delay arrangements for conducting a wide review of the 2003 Act as requested by Richard Simpson and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
 I understand that the Scottish Parliament will be discussing the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill on Wednesday 24 June. I await with interest to find out whether the Minister accepts that there is a need for a wide review of the 2003 Act and also whether he is prepared to assure Parliament that the 2003 Act, amended by the Mental Health Bill to form the 2015 Act, is compatible with Convention rights. It would be wrong of him to offer Parliament any such assurance."
Here is Hunter Watson's 3 page paper on Section 242:

Dr Donald Lyons 'Know your rights, use your rights' in Bipolar Scotland newsletter - stuff and nonsense

Here is an Email sent today, 20 June 2015, to the CEO of Bipolar Scotland regarding an article in their newsletter which came through my letterbox today.  Written by Dr Donny Lyons, previous CEO of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC), an old-age psychiatrist, who I remember as being quite keen on ECT.  

Or so he told me when we used to sit together at the Cross Party Group for Mental Health in Scottish Parliament.

now on the board of NHS GGC

Strapline: Dr Donald Lyons 'Know your rights, use your rights' in Bipolar Scotland newsletter - stuff and nonsense

"Dear Alison

I am writing to you, in the first instance, to complain about the Donny Lyons piece in your newsletter which I have just received through my letterbox.  See screenshot of the strapline and opening paragraphs.

I have no Email contact now with Dr Lyons since his retiral (no doubt on a whopping pension) but am copying in Colin McKay (present CEO of MWC), trusting that he will forward this correspondence on.

The fact of the matter is that in psychiatric settings, in Scotland, our human rights as a detained psychiatric patient are not guaranteed, regardless of whether we know them or not.  My son knew his rights in February 2012 in the Stratheden IPCU and they were denied.  He was locked in a seclusion room with no toilet, no water, in the dark, for hours at a time, unobserved.  Basic human rights denied.  I knew my rights as a mother and Named Person.  These were continually undermined.  I was blamed in an Adult Protection Investigation Report by Fife Council social work department for causing "psychological harm" when NHS Fife staff were subjecting my son to psychiatric abuse.

Dr Lyons is deluded if he thinks that the human rights of detained mental patients are a reality.  He was the CEO of the Mental Welfare Commission in Feb12 when my son's human rights were denied and he was abused.  I wrote to Dr Lyons constantly in Emails from 1 February onwards about it.  The MWC did nothing to stop the abuse of patients in Stratheden Hospital through their use of the locked seclusion room.  In fact they were still using the room in September 2014 because a mother wrote to me about it.  A woman who worked for the Joint Improvement Team, based at St Andrews House, Edinburgh.  She appealed to me.  I forwarded her Emails on to Colin McKay, MWC, Dr Lyons' successor.

It's a farce.  For Bipolar Scotland to promote this rubbish is really upsetting to me as a mother, picking up the pieces after dehumanising psychiatric treatment.  You are insulting my intelligence and my membership of your organisation.

Dr Lyons ends by saying that the mentally ill have recourse to justice, to report matters to the police.  The problem with this, Dr Lyons, is that people who have been abused by psychiatry and receive mental disorder diagnoses are in no fit state to take a case to court.  They are not well enough to do so.  Although some do try and still get nowhere (Claire Muir, Dumbarton).

I will have more to say about this.

Regards, Chrys

your Bipolar Scotland piece on Nice drugs guidance - do you have links with pharmaceutical companies?

Here is an Email sent today, 20 June 2015, to Professor Danny Smith, Glasgow University, upon reading his article in Bipolar Scotland' newsletter which had just come through my letterbox.

link to Prof Smith's page

Strapline: your Bipolar Scotland Features 17 in BS mag on Nice drugs guidance - do you have links with pharmaceutical companies?

"Dear Professor Smith (Danny)

Firstly, I am assuming that congratulations are in order, regarding your professorship?  Well done on your promotion.

I am writing in response to your feature in the BS mag which I have just received through my letterbox, on NICE guidance for bipolar disorder.  Which reads like a drugs promotional piece.  With its mention of:

  • haloperidol
  • olanzapine
  • quetiapine
  • risperidone
  • lithium
  • fluoxetine
  • valproate
  • lamotrigine

Many of these drugs I have personal experience of.  Either having been coerced to swallow them myself or had family members who were put under pressure to take them, or were persuaded to keep on taking them.  I would add Clozapine to the list as one of my relatives is now on this drug, in her 40's, and walks with a stick.  It causes inner ear balance issues, weight gain and speech problems, among other side effects. 

I notice that you also mention psychoeducation and psychological therapies but the drug recommendations take up most of the space.  Which takes me to the second reason for writing.

Do you have any links with pharmaceutical companies, for example are you a consultant, receive payment for advising drug companies, take money from them for speaking on their behalf at events or promoting their products?  In the interests of transparency I hope that you will respond to my question, with openness.  I will be putting this Email in a blog post so that others can see.

As you may be aware, I support the work of Dr Peter J Gordon in his petitioning Scottish Parliament for a Sunshine Act:


As a mother of sons who have accessed psychiatric inpatient treatment and received bipolar diagnoses, while in the process also of being subject to psychiatric abuse, I am keen to know if mental health academics are free from conflicts of interest in their work.  As in, any links with big pharma could be contrary to what is in the best interests of a service user or psychiatric inpatient.  Drug-centred rather than person-centred treatment.

Additionally, you and I are related, by marriage, and have family members in common.  We have debated on occasion, in the past, about mental illness and psychiatric diagnoses.  When you were employed at Cardiff University.  I remember how we were poles apart back then.  I am not sure if we are any closer together now, in respect of biological psychiatry and the harm that is caused by psychotropic drugs, particularly in the long term prescribing of them.  Which I can testify to.

I look forward to hearing from you,



Bipolar Scotland newsletter page 21

For interest, here is my post ''More Harm Than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic' Conference 18 September 2015 London':

I have registered and bought plane tickets."