Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Unconventional Wisdom: Beyond Medical - The Debate Continues (I hope) ...

Leaving PAVO and Ventures New

After 5 years of working within PAVO’s Mental Health Team and 10 years of working in the “mental health” field, in July 2014 I decided it was time to try and make my living in a different way, one that was outside of the mental health system and outside of the public sector.

I am opening a Micropub in Llandrindod Wells which is a whole other story (… one of craft real ales, conversation, bringing people together and other lovely things …). If you are interested you can find out more on twitter, look for @arvonales.

So why I am still writing a “mental health” blog?

Some of you may already be aware of my views on our mental health system and the ideas underpinning it from my previous posts. You can find some of these here. If so, you will know that they do not align with the conventional mainstream wisdom on this topic and although I am no longer working within mental health, my quest to find ways of highlighting the “beyond medical” debate to professionals, the public, people in contact with mental health services and those close to them continues.

I believe that basing our mental health system and public awareness campaigns on the illogical idea of “mental illness” is doing much more harm than good. This belief comes from personal and professional experience of mental health and my own 30 year quest for the truth about my brother’s “mental illness”.

“Here I stand. I can do no other.” Martin Luther

What’s the debate? The myth of mental illness and the harm that it is doing

I believe that the concept of “mental illness” is incorrect and illogical. That the thoughts, feelings and actions that we categorise as “symptoms” of “mental illness” are not that. That these thoughts, feelings and actions are instead a natural and normal response to the difficult things that happen to us.

I believe that basing our mental health services, policies, laws, treatments, responses and public health campaigns on this bad idea is leading to much more harm than good. That allowing this bad idea to underpin all of these things means that we start from the wrong place when trying to help ourselves and others.

That is a place that largely remains in the “let’s manage the symptoms” arena rather than one that asks “can we make sense of this”. A place that doesn’t always allow us to look first for any medical reasons for these symptoms (you can read my blogs on organic reasons for “depression” here and “psychosis” here).

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”  
Benjamin Lee Whorf

What do I propose?

Well one thing is that I commit to continuing to write blog posts that highlight “What’s Hot?” in the beyond medical debate (…What’s Hot ?!?!?! - me trying to make the topic as interesting as I can).

I will also continue to use my personal twitter account @powysmh to present evidence that shows the invalidity of the idea of “mental illness” and that highlights the harm that this idea is having.

I know that I am not the only one in Wales wanting to see awareness of this debate raised and I would love to hear from you about what you are doing and any ideas you have about what else you think we could do.

So now it is up to you. Read or don’t read the blog. Follow me on twitter. Talk to me, contact me, challenge me, offer me words of support. I leave it to you.

Beyond Medical Debate. Where would I start from now?

As this is the first of these “round-ups” I want to start by highlighting just 2 links that are in my opinion a great place to start if you want to find out more about this debate. I hope you find them interesting and useful:

The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP)   @cep_uk
  • The purpose: To reduce psychiatric harm by communicating the latest evidence to policymakers and practitioners, by sharing the testimony of those who have been harmed, and by supporting research into areas where evidence is lacking.
  • Where to start: Try the tabs at the top for a series of short videos on “Unrecognised Facts” and “Recovery Story”. Also find out more about the members of CEP here. One member, psychiatrist Sami Timimi, talked at a conference I organised earlier this year in Powys, you can find out more about this here.
Behaviorism and Mental Health    @BigPhilHickey 

An alternative perspective on mental disorders by Philip Hickey PhD.
  • The purpose: To provide a forum where current practices and ideas in the mental health field can be critically examined and discussed.
  • Where to start: Absolutely anywhere, this is a great site for exploring this debate. On the home page you will see a list of his posts and in my opinion they are all insightful, logical, thorough and interesting. There is a Tell Your Story page here and the Moderation Policy here is well worth a read.
Beyond Medical Debate. What’s Hot This Month? 

Contact me (… fingers crossed …)? Laura Gallagher

To find out more you can follow me on twitter @powysmh.

You can comment below and I will respond.

You can email me at powysmentalhealth@gmail.com

Or find me on facebook here.

Fingers crossed that other people out there are also interested in finding out more about this this debate….

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