Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Changes to Mental Health Services in England

Nick Clegg made a statement about mental health yesterday.  He says mental health services have a lower priority than they should have, and that more NHS resources should be allocated to addressing the imbalance of provision for mental and physical health.  Other proposals include stamping out mental health discrimination.  Mr Clegg - quickest way forward - change the 'schizophrenia' label.  Please. 

Anyway, here's the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mental-health-priorities-for-change

I read about Nick Clegg's statement in today's paper of course.  It was Dr Mark Porter again, and he goes on to make the point that physical and mental health are linked, and states that people with 'schizophrenia' (my inverted commas) nearly always have associated physical concerns.  Another piece in the Saturday paper had a piece by a neurologist, Dr David Perlmutter.  It was about how eating well can prevent the onset of dementia and other degenerative brain diseases.  And he mentioned that gluten is often a trigger for headaches, depression, schizophrenia and other conditions, as well as intestinal disorders.

This is nothing new - I have been convinced for a long time of the link between mental health and digestive disorders.  Monica Cassini is very good on the subject (see her 'Beyond Meds' blog).  But it was good to see the information going mainstream - and it reminded me that I really should start cutting down on, if not cutting out, gluten again.  And not just for me, but for my family, if I can find a way to do it that does not shake up the usual mealtime menus too dramatically.  I have to make subtle changes, otherwise I get accused of being the Food Police. 

Anyway, the book that Dr Perlmutter was promoting is well worth a look, I'm sure - it's called 'Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar - Your Brain's Silent Killers'. Here's the link for that: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1444791907

Another article which was on my wavelength in today's Times was Robert Crampton's column about the dangers of cannabis.  As Crampton puts it, 'Governments should be making cannabis harder to acquire, not easier'.  And he makes a convincing case for the dangers of cannabis, referring to the very expensive rehab clinic in Zurich that he visited in order to write an article that was previously published last year in the Times magazine.   This practitioners of this clinic say that people suffering from cannabis-induced psychosis are their most intractable cases.

So, that's my summary of today's newspaper over with.  And now, back to work.  I am currently on a writing roll - after reading (in the Times, naturally) about Russell Blake, an American author who has published 25 novels in the last thirty months, I am inspired to follow his example.  Maybe I will never be that prolific - in fact it is physically impossible at the moment, because he writes for ten to twelve hours a day and I just don't have that much free time. 

But I can still try - and his blog post about how to increase your output - basically, don't self-edit until you finish your first draft, don't turn on the Internet when you are supposed to be working and so on - was very useful.  Here's the link to that post on Blake's blog, for anyone who is interested:  http://russellblake.com/how-to-sell-loads-of-books/

I have written two thousand words so far today (not including this blog post).  The quality is not relevant - the fact is, I wrote them and that is enough of an achievement in itself, for now.  It's good to have a goal, and a challenge.  Even if I only manage twenty-five short stories in a month, or twenty-five blog posts, I will still be writing, and improving. And enjoying myself, which is, or should be, what it is all about.


  1. I love reading books about people's personal experience of "schizophrenia" and I have noticed that in everyone of them the people having a psychotic breakdown have been abusing cannabis, be it Elyn Saks, Henry Cockburn, Carol North, Kurt Vonnegut, yourself ... In fact I haven't read a personal story yet in which cannabis or LSD hadn't been involved. In these true stories youngsters usually turn to cannabis not because they have a predisposition to schizophrenia but because they had been emotionally abused or neglected by their parents. Often these parents are totally unaware that they are neglecting the emotional needs of their children. Some are too busy pursuing their careers and there is only so many hours in the day. Patrick Cockburn is never at home, Elyn Saks'es father totally destroys his daughter's self-confidence by sending her to a heartless drug-rehabilitation centre against her will. Kurt Vonnegut revels in the glory of his success and leaves the family etc. etc. By the way, I like the cover of your book because, I feel, having those beautiful children and a good husband saved your sanity. In many ways having my children kept me sane.

  2. Thank you. Yes, I dread to think where I might be now without my family. I used to be such an insecure person, and so nervous - now Paul and the children have given me the security I always needed. (Having a family of his own has been a godsend for Paul too). I hope that in return Paul and I can provide the children with the confidence and other skills they will need in life.

    It's hard sometimes to know if you are doing the right thing as a parent. I have a very small job starting soon, which will mean two days in London each year, and then a few hours a month working from home. I thought that would be fine - just enough to give me a little independence without abandoning the family. But now another opportunity has arisen - this one would mean ten days away from home a year, including an overnight stay the day before each time. I am hesitating, because although this may not seem like much to most people, for our family it would be quite an upheaval. It is all mental health work, so obviously it is for a good cause, but I am going to think long and hard before I commit - there is so much at stake!

    I think those of us who gain fulfilment through motherhood are so lucky. I am writing a lot at the moment, and hoping that if I can persevere I will eventually achieve some degree of success. But that (if it ever happens) could never be anything nearly as special as the experience I have every day just by staying at home. I am glad you have been lucky enough to benefit in the same way.