Thursday, 15 November 2012

ImROC Webinar

I just attended my first 'Webinar' - strictly speaking, I virtually attended it.  It was called, 'Public Mental Health, Wellbeing and Recovery' and was hosted by ImROC - you will have to look that up.  It's an official organisation but I am not the best person to explain what they do - there has recently been a paper published on the subject of this webinar apparently, which I felt I should have read before the webinar (and would have done if I'd known about it).  I stumbled across a notice about the Webinar on Twitter and asked to join it.  I had heard about ImROC through my short-lived engagement with the Dorset Mental Health Forum.  Apparently they will be publishing a new paper soon on Peer Support and another on Carers, and once I am up to speed with all this I will provide a link to their publications here (and advance notice of any more webinars, so that anyone else interested can join in).   

I enjoyed the webinar experience and understand a little more now about the official attitudes to public mental health, recovery and the establishment of the new Health and Wellbeing Boards.  I may even try to wheedle my way onto one of these boards - apparently they welcome service-user input. 

The trouble is though, I am a bit of an agitator (unfortunately sometimes it is necessary to agitate in order to effect change).  I don't mean to offend anyone, but I do like to be able to speak freely.  Which is why although it is a shame in some ways that I don't now work for the Forum (especially as they are partners in the local NHS trust and therefore all local peer support workers seem to have to be channelled through them) it is probably for the best that I operate independently.  I am not on bad terms with the Forum, and hopefully we can work together in the future.

Having stated on here that I was asked to alter my case study for the Schizophrenia Commission report, I opened a can of worms, because obviously it is unethical to ask someone for a case study, then try to remove from it the crucial point that they are trying to make (about diagnosis).  Although on the scale of corruption, this was a pretty innocuous offence - especially since when I said 'No' to its removal, they consequently included the offending line in the case study.  It's on page 64 of the report, by the way (link below).  My first name was attributed, not my full name.  I notice that another case study has also mentioned the adverse and unhelpful effect of the word 'schizophrenia', so I'm not alone (although I never thought I was).

As it turns out, the recommendation of the report re. the diagnosis is laughable - that clinicians should think carefully before giving the diagnosis, because of the stigma and sense of disablement it produces (they didn't say disablement, I forget the actual word they used).  I mean, they know that already, and yet they still ruin people's lives with this label.  If the label wasn't an option, that could only be a vast improvement.

Link to the SC report:

I am still working my way through the report - have not yet found anything in there that I didn't already know.  In fact, I have been considering writing an 'alternative report' just for a laugh - but I am worried that it would take too long (must do that Psychology homework this week!) and that any humour I might try to inject might not end up being particularly funny. 

I suppose the mention of Recovery Houses in the report is good - especially if these would be used as alternatives to hospital treatment, not just for recuperation afterwards.  Any alternative to hospital treatment under the present system could only be a good thing.

My hackles were raised when I got to the section in the report on medication.  I try not to write too much about this issue - although I know for a fact that I would not have recovered as well as I have, if I was still on antipsychotic drugs.  However, I recognise that this is a sensitive issue - many people try to stop their drugs and break down as a result, and nobody wants to feel responsible for the breakdown of another human being. 

I know many people see their drugs as a necessity, and don't mind taking them, despite the side-effects.  Each to his own.  But I think that more help should be given for people who wish to stop taking them.  I was lucky - each time I had recovered from a breakdown, I was helped by a medical professional to slowly wean myself off the medication.  I am grateful for this - even though after my second breakdown it was not the mental health professionals who helped (more of this in my book,  don't want to keep bleating over old ground).

Now, what the report says is that antipsychotics are 'the cornerstone of treatment' - that when people were asked - 'What is the single most effective support for those with schizophrenia or psychosis?' they said medication.  But surely - surely - this is because there are all too often no alternatives - drugs are the only support offered!

Here's a link to a You Tube video about antipsychotics.  It's not long, but it's a real eye-opener:

To sum up - I think more people should be helped to recover from emotional distress (aka mental illness).  There are lots of ways of doing this, so let's try to explore them all.  And let's not use the word schizophrenia any more - let's let it die out, just as the old terminology of 'lunatics' and 'lunacy' has done.  Let's allow common decency to replace it with kinder words, since the Schizophrenia Commission have failed to do so.  (Thanks to Kate Hudson of Newcastle Uni for that thought.  It has given me hope).

I suppose really I should re-name this blog - 'Thoughts from the Thought-Disordered' or some such.  But then how would it reach the people who might be helped by it?  I am almost certainly going to re-name my memoir soon though, with the word 'Schizophrenia' edited out - so please, take care not to buy it twice, anybody who already has a copy!

Incidentally, I wrote this blog post against the clock.  I hope it's all clearly enough expressed - if not, my rush is the reason/excuse.


  1. Tell us more about these Health and Wellbeing boards and the official attitudes to public mental health: I don't know anything about them.

  2. Hi, yes, good point. I meant to update the last blog post with some clearer information - I hate techo-speak and waffle. I have written a new blog post, which I hope will point you in the right direction to find out more as I am a bit pressed for time at the moment. Basically, the NHS is undergoing a process of re-organisation - hopefully the focus will be about providing better care, not just better value for money.