Tuesday, 8 May 2018

creating space for survivor Mothers & Others in Scotland; response from Dr Peter Gordon

A wee blog post appealing for survivor voices to be welcomed and respected in Scottish mental health arenas, especially those of us who are Mothers, whistleblowers, campaigners, carers, writers and activists.  Unwaged and unappreciated.

I've had a tough time since 2008 when speaking out from the heart, at first about my unbelief in mental illness, from 2012 exposing psychiatric abuse, poor mental health treatment and attempts to blame me for it. I had more of the same last year from DClinPsy Glasgow Programme Director Professor McLeod.

"Life isn't fair" said Professor Schwannauer to me, February 2017 at a PhD meeting with Professor Gumley in rooms at the University of Edinburgh (PhD withdrawn 9May17).  Did he expect me to just put up with it?  Is compassion just a word and theory, not practice?  I don't know.  These Clinical Psychology academics didn't support me in my research.  I'm getting over it.

However I won't stop protesting at the lack of space and opportunities for survivor activists like me to be meaningfully involved in mental health research at universities here, considering the positive results of our whistleblowing: a £4.4million new build IPCU at Stratheden Hospital, money awarded by Scottish Government after I exposed the locked seclusion human rights abuses in the old IPCU/Ward 4:

new Stratheden IPCU, photo taken May 2016

Survivor Mothers deserve respect.  I've supported my 3 sons in/out of psychosis/psychiatry since 1995 to this day, providing advocacy, peer support and care.  That's no mean feat.


with son Daniel Sep17 Cupar, Fife
with son Angus Jan15 Cupar, Fife

with sons Daniel & Edwin Apr16


Response from my friend Dr Peter Gordon:

"Dear Chrys,
You are an inspiration to me and I know to many others.

It dismays me very much that you have had such a tough time over the last decade for speaking from the heart and putting your family first.

You have been a tireless friend and advocate for those who may find themselves disempowered (for whatever reason).

Your post returns my thoughts, once again, to why it should be like this in Scotland today? Are folk afraid to speak out despite the high level strategies such as "See Me", "Our Voice" and "Freedom to Speak Up"?

The history of Western approaches to mental health, predominantly medical, do provide some lessons. Not so long ago (in 2015) Sir Prof Simon Wessely made this very point when referring to Insulin-Coma therapy which was once used for Schizophrenia. If you watch this film (from 59 minutes in) Prof Wessely talks about this treatment for "schizophrenics" but states the learning about its harms was by the establishment themselves. This is absolutely incorrect. It was a junior doctor, Harold Bourne who bravely challenged his profession. He did so alone. He was ridiculed as a result by the British psychiatric establishment and had to leave Britain. It is disingenuous, at best, for Prof Wessely to represent this learning as coming from the profession as an establishment and to suggest that psychiatry led the way! You can listen here (from 59 minutes in) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-E1iO3rsVk&feature=youtu.be&t=1707  (this clip has interesting context for today, given this recent podcast by the Royal Society of Medicine which involves Prof Wessely and his wife Prof Clare Gerada: https://holeousia.com/2018/05/01/rsm-health-matters-podcast-episode-1-antidepressants/

This is my short film that explains the actual context of Insulin Coma Therapy: https://vimeo.com/105500087 (if you scroll to the comments you will see one from Harold Bourne himself. I was touched to receive this from such an inspirational man who is now in his nineties and still exiled from Britain)

Back To Scotland. I would like to see enlightenment return - enlightenment that our nation was once understood for. This alongside a capacity to speak with hairt, passion and truth. Chrys, you have all these wonderful qualities.

So should we be worried? Is Scotland doing okay with mental health? I am of the view that the answer is no. Evidence would support my view.

1 in 7 Scots are now taking antidepressants, many doing so indefinitely. Yet suicide rates are rising. Scottish Government figures have established that 82% of those who took their lives were on at least an antidepressant, and in many cases, combined with other psychiatric drugs. An association like this does not make a causation, but it is nevertheless a matter of  real concern.

It has been interesting following Petition PE1651: Prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01651 The evidence given by the Psychiatric Establishment in Scotland and by the Scottish Government seems to cast doubt on the ‘credibility’ of the many submissions of harmful experiences related to prescribed medications such as antidepressants. Is this professional stigma? I am of the view that it is, and I find it concerning.

Scottish Government figures have also confirmed that those who take antipsychotics on a long term basis are at risk of dying 15 to 20 years earlier than those who are not.

Given all this, we might have hoped that "Realistic Medicine", the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland's initiative (which has my full support), would be making a difference. There is of course time yet, but I am dismayed that the Scottish Government have not made any meaningful action in terms of the potential for doctors and healthcare workers in Scotland to learn about prescribing not from science but from the makers of the drugs. As you know, I have campaigned for many years now for sunshine legislation in Scotland. Recently, the CEO of the Mental Welfare Commission stated that this (transparency of competing financial interests) "is not a priority" for his organisation. Yet, for the Scottish public (who were officially consulted on this 2 years ago) it is: http://www.scottishhealthcouncil.org/publications/gathering_public_views/register_of_interests.aspx#.WvKTNYgvxPY

Chrys, I absolutely agree with you that when it comes to improving mental wellbeing that Scotland needs to create space for all voices. At the moment we seem to have anything but this.

aye Dr Peter J Gordon"

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