Today’s end of the year great blog post from Mental Health Cop: What The Hell Is Actually Going On?
[Posted by mentalhealthcop ⋅ December 31, 2013]
“I didn’t take very long of being more than superficially absorbed in this area of interest before people started recommending I read various mental health related books. Some of them were very general texts like the Willan Handbook of Forensic Mental Health and actually, for me, this became something of a substitute to being able to go on a training course of any relevance at all. There is nothing out there to help you chart your way through murky waters of mental health and policing so this volume with its multitude of chapters by a variety of people from disparate academic backgrounds, including psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses and as well as lawyers was well worth having.
But what you learn when you start piling into this stuff head first is that there are a large number of unresolved significant debates that often appear to become spats between the professions within mental health – and often between particular professionals. As you realise the extent of these spats, the power dynamics going on between the different professions and the evidence upon which many rely for their claims, you realise what a precarious house of cards the whole thing is. But it’s a house of cards into which we can currently compel people with a multitude of vulnerabilities, shut the door and treat them against their will. So inevitably, to an outsider, this can become quite fascinating and I admit I have become quite absorbed by the history of it all.
How on earth did we reach a position where we can force treatment upon people, when even the profession of psychiatry itself cannot agree what is going on? Expand beyond psychiatry to other mental health related professions and we just see the problems growing wider. There is a corpus of people selling books and doing conferences who are basically suggesting that the last fifty years of psychiatry and a drug-oriented model of care, with an acknowledged subordinate role for talking therapy and other psycho-social support, is flawed. Actually, it is claimed to be doing more harm than good.
So I’m genuinely interested: is this correct on any level that is relevant and important to what we’re doing in our society and the role we expect our police to play in delivering that through the use of force? …..”
And here’s my comment published:
“Another pertinent and honest blog post, thanks Michael. You ask a number of valid questions regarding the use of force in psychiatric settings and the long term effects of psychiatric drugs.
I now call myself a survivor, of mental illness and psychiatric treatment, at age 61, although for many years I was just a mother and community development worker who had recovered from 3 episodes of psychoses and got off the psych drugs. However as a carer whose 3 sons have all been through the psychiatric system and now a grandmother it seems fitting that I identify as a survivor and speak out as an activist and campaigner. I want to see system change for the sake of my future family who shouldn’t have to go through what I and other family members have.
I really didn’t like being forced to take psych drugs, they didn’t agree with me, made me depressed, caused more problems than the initial psychoses, following childbirth and at the menopause. Life transitions. The problems with mental health treatment is it can be a “one size fits all” scenario. Where subjective opinions become gospel truth, written indelibly in psychiatric notes, justifying coercive treatment and lifelong mental illness prognoses. I didn’t believe it and recovered. But the schizoaffective disorder still sits in my notes and rears its head now and then.
Like you I have wondered what on earth is going on? It doesn’t make sense to look at behaviours and call them symptoms then forcibly treat even unto death. Which has happened to some of my family members, women. My mother in particular who was kept on a depixol injection for life. Why? Because they had labelled her with schizophrenia. But she didn’t hear voices and her mental ill health was due to life stresses or trauma. These eventually passed but the label and drugs continued.
I want to see a paradigm shift so that people with mental ill health are treated as people first, as individuals not as symptoms or behaviours. I want to see relationship building and level playing fields. First do no harm.
A guid new year to you and yours, Chrys”