Far be it from me –

Cameron’s alcohol strategy is missing the point – a guest blog from a recovering middle class alcoholic

Cameron’s alcohol strategy is missing the point – a guest blog from a recovering middle class alcoholic.

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Applications Are Invited For The Position of Associate Editor, Journal Of Psychiatric And Mental Health Nursing

We are seeking applications for the position of Associate Editor within one of the leading international
psychiatric and mental health nursing journals.
The Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing is an international, peer-reviewed publication
providing a forum for the publication of original contributions that lead to the advancement of psychiatric
and mental health nursing practice. It publishes papers which reflect developments in knowledge,
attitudes and skills, and integration of these into practice. Detailed information about the journal can be
found at www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jpm.
The successful candidate for the position of Associate Editor will be recognized internationally for his
or her academic and research achievements and will have an impressive track record of publications
and presentations at conferences. The ideal candidate will possess the following skills and knowledge:
 Sound scientific judgment
 Broad knowledge of psychiatric and mental health nursing on an international level
 Awareness of trends and standards within knowledge dissemination
 Excellent written and verbal communication
 Ability to work to tight deadlines
 Previous editorial board and reviewer experience on nursing journals
The main functions within this role are: manuscript handling and quality control, strategic
development, and journal promotion. The post involves working closely with the Publisher and the
Applicants should note that this position requires a weekly commitment of time, with additional time for
meetings. The Associate Editor can be based in any international location. The successful candidate will
start work on the journal in January 2013, and appointment will be for a three year term. There is an
honorarium available for this position.
Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a short assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of
the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, and an accompanying letter outlining the skills
you will bring to this position.
A description of the role is available on request. Please send your application, in confidence, to:
Rosie Ledger, Wiley-Blackwell, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.
Email to rledger@wiley.com
Applications to arrive no later than 30 November 2012

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Guest Post by Jason Tucker – Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) At Home And Abroad

Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation at home and abroad

It has been known for some time that Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM ) has been practiced in over two dozen countries with over 100 million living victims, mainly in Africa and the Middle – East but there is now plenty of evidence to suggest that immigration has spread the abuse to European countries including the UK where it is, of course, illegal.

Defenders of the practice insist that FGM is steeped in cultural and religious tradition in those countries where it is prevalent and is no different from male circumcision. Removal of female external genitalia is historically designed to reduce a woman’s libido and promote fidelity in marriage. Opponents point to the risks to health and the oppression of women’s rights.

It is estimated that some 2,000 British girls undergo FGM each year and London’s Metropolitan Police now have a dedicated FGM unit dealing with the practice. However, although it has been illegal since 1985, there has not been a single prosecution.

It seems that here in the UK, the emphasis is more on prevention than detection with significant educational efforts aimed at vulnerable girls and their parents. The same emphasis is now evident in overseas countries where children’s charities like Plan International are ramming home the message about the physical and longer term mental health risks.

Plan has adopted a 3 step process which appears to already be succeeding in countries like Mali, Kenya and Pakistan:

  • The first step is that local health professionals educate communities about the obvious dangers to health as the result of infection and haemorrhaging etc.
  • Secondly, a local champion against FGM is selected and developed so that each community remains on message when the Plan representative is not around. It is also vital that community leaders, teachers and law enforcement agencies provide their support.
  • Finally, it is important to work with parents’ groups and children’s groups to raise awareness of what to do and who to go to if any child is threatened with FGM.

This three-pronged approach, adopted community by community, has resulted in whole areas being declared female genital mutilation free. Mali, where more than two-thirds of girls were previously subject to FGM, has made particularly strong strides just working from one village to the next.

Plan would like to see these methods adopted amongst those immigrant communities in the UK where some 24,000 girls are estimated to remain at risk.

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Miriam Drori, Author

I am delighted to welcome Jean Davison to my blog today. I have been

following Jean’s blog for some time, but only recently got round to reading her memoir: The Dark Threads. At the age of 18, Jean, like many intelligent teenagers, was confused about religion and other issues. Feeling the need to discuss these with someone who would listen and offer guidance, she went to see a psychiatrist. The result was five years in the mental health system, including two stays as an in-patient in an antiquated institution. This was the 1960s and ’70s.

I must admit that when I started reading Jean’s memoir, I thought it wouldn’t add anything to what I’d learnt by reading Jean’s blog. But I was wrong. It’s the detail that brings her story to life. The short, unmeaningful conversations that provided no basis to her being diagnosed with schizophrenia. The interaction with…

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Review – Our Encounters With Madness

 ‘Our Encounters with Madness

Authors: (eds) Alec Grant, Fran Biley and Hannah Walker

Publisher: PCCS Books, Ross-On-Wye

Date: 2011

ISBN: 978-1-906254-38-4

Price: £18.00

Pages: 246


A common problem encountered by my mental health nursing students is their fear that they do not know enough about mental health and illness. This is exemplified by their expression of frustration with some of the key nursing textbooks – they often perceive that they don’t tell them enough about mental illness. To remedy this, they turn to the likes of the DSM and the ICD 10. They want to know what mental illness looks like. They want to know how to diagnose mental illness. They want to know what medication treats what group of symptoms. This fear is compounded when they encounter medics and some medically minded RMN‘s in clinical practice – they feel like they lack ‘the [medical] basics’. But there is a vast difference between knowing what mental illness is, and knowledge about mental health and illness. Knowing requires little more than a thorough reading and memorising of the aforementioned diagnostic guides. Knowledge is far trickier. Indeed, knowledge is perhaps only available through listening to – and more importantly, hearing – people and their experiences, their own narratives or life stories, their distress, their fears, hopes, aspirations, desires. ‘Knowing’ enables the formulation of such rich material into diagnosis, treatment or recovery plans, risk assessments – an undoubtedly important part of nursing practice. I would argue that it is a combination of knowing and knowledge that creates good, empathic, critical and thoughtful nurses.

This book contains a wealth of personal narratives, from a variety of perspectives, that can help create ‘knowledge’ in both student nurses and qualified practitioners.  As one of the authors writes in the introduction, textbooks “are written on behalf of ‘mental ill-health sufferers’ by either specialists in psychiatric medicine or in various forms of psychotherapeutic modality” – yet these “fail to get over what it really means, or feels like to have or to care for someone with mental health problems, or suffer in response to abuse, in the context of a life. Formal accounts deal with human distress by proxy, and then to have a narrow focus on ‘illness’ or ‘disorders’ – labels often rejected by those in receipt of them”. Grant continues, “such ‘expert’ accounts often lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy: individuals who are onlyconceptualized, described and experienced by their readers in a one dimensional way – as just their illness, or just their disorder – are often treated as if that’s all they are, all of the time” (p. 3). This book provides practitioners, students, carers and – perhaps most importantly – people who experience mental health issues themselves with a multidimensional, emotional and emotive, and above all hope inspiring anthology of experiences. In this respect alone, it is a vital read.

Sections on the experience of receiving diagnoses and on the vivid, hugely personal experience of mental health issues are set alongside people’s varying encounters with the mental health system itself, and the staff who support it. Both positive experiences of staff and services are recorded alongside those that highlight the (sometimes vast) disjuncture that still exists between individual expectation, service ideology and the lived reality of individual’s journeys through the system.  There are also a number of narratives exploring the experience of being a carer and on abuse and survival.

This is a phenomenal book that should be listed as ‘essential reading’ for students and professionals alike. Collections of individual narratives such as these are few and far between, and each story in here deserves to be told and heard, like all individuals’  testimonies and narratives.  The ‘knowledge’ contained within these pages should be accorded the same status as the ‘knowing’ attainable through textbooks and other theoretical materials.  Who knows the experience of mental health better than those who experience issues or fluctuations with their own, after all.

Charley Baker, Lecturer in Mental Health,

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy,

University of Nottingham,

Nottingham UK


This review was published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing


Making Sense Of Unusual Experiences: Voices, Visions and Paranoia


A two-day skills based workshop delivered jointly by Paranoia Network UK, Hearing Voices Network, Sheffield, and the Institute of Mental Health.
14 and 15 November 2012
Duncan Macmillan House, Mapperley,
10 and 11 December 2012
Bevan House, Springwell Road,
Facilitators: Pete Bullimore, Chris Tandy and Kieran Fahy
Workshop Content
Day 1
The problem with diagnosis
Making sense of paranoia
The three stages of paranoia
Making sense of ‘delusion’
Trauma and paranoia
Day 2
History of understanding voices and visions using a psychiatric perspective
The difficulty with diagnosis
Limitations of traditional therapy
The three stages of voices
Trauma and unusual experiences
Understanding voices and visions
Helpful approaches
Workshop Outcomes
Day 1
Gain a contemporary understanding of paranoia and other alternative beliefs.
Gain a critical understanding of current bio-medical constructs of paranoia.
Construct collaborative understanding of paranoia with service users in a respectful, ethical and therapeutic manner.
Understand the potential connection between trauma and paranoia.
Day 2
Take a critical and thoughtful perspective on traditional ways of understanding voice hearing and visions.
Understand the potential pitfalls of the claims made from other therapies.
Take a respectful and ethical approach to the experience of voice hearing and visions.
Understand the potential connection between trauma and voice hearing and visions.
Develop new ways of talking to and working with people who experience voices and visions.
This workshop is targeted at all mental health workers, criminal justice personnel, third sector agencies and people who experience voices, visions and paranoia.
Costs are £10 (non-waged), £30 (part-time employed), and £75 (waged).
Apply now:
Suzanne Howard, Workshop Administrator, 01777 247284, mobile 0791 7837430 and email suzanne.howard@nottshc.nhs.uk



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India Knight so wrong to say ‘no stigma to depression’ and ‘everybody gets depressed’ – Time to Change

India Knight so wrong to say ‘no stigma to depression’ and ‘everybody gets depressed’ – Time to Change.

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Becoming Psychotic –


If you ask me what has been the most terrifying experience in my life so far I’ll say without hesitation, suffering an acute psychotic episode in my thirties.
This didn’t just happen. I’d grown up in a dysfunctional family, experienced depression in my teens following the death of my grandmother, gone on to marry an abusive man and experienced rape and domestic violence.   When I found the courage to walk away I only took 4 weeks off work.   I cried for most of that time and then returned to work and tried to carry on as normal.   Bottling up my feelings did not help and my anxiety levels rocketed and some time later on a week’s leave, I found myself in a state of terror, alone in my house   I felt on edge. I ate very little.   I hardly slept.. I stayed dressed as I was so full of energy.   My terror increased as I started to experience visual and auditory hallucinations. My imagination was in overdrive.   I opened the back door to be physically knocked back by a rushing crimson and gold tornado hurtling towards me, such was the power of my mind.   I saw all kinds of sinister meanings in the newspaper headlines and thought the editorial was about me.  I imagined there was a nuclear war going on around me.   I thought the house would explode the next time I opened the front door.
I hallucinated about a Fabergé egg fashioned in gold and filigree and black and one point this opened into two halves and I had the feeling I was at the mid point in something.   During this hallucination I was on the phone and I suddenly started to sing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina while pivoting from foot to foot.  I was on a high;  the energy rush was amazing yet the extreme terror I experienced was suffocating.  Some of the hallucinations were in brilliant colour and music played all over my body.  Red and green waves of colour shimmered all around the room . I had regressed to a child like state.  Yet I would lapse into fluent French or German. I thought the chimney was on fire and rang the fire brigade who came to check it and said it was fine.  A friend phoned me, realised how ill I was and phoned a family member  who came to see me and stayed overnight with me.   The next morning my GP came to see me.
I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital later that day. For the first eleven days I refused all food and drink as I believed myself to be dead or in metamorphosis.   My life was thought to be in danger and I was sectioned.  The psychiatrist told my family he was saving my life rather than my sanity.   Ironically I did start to eat and drink voluntarily almost immediately after I was sectioned.   I was still catatonic and mute.   My eyes were dead and there was no light in them.
Flames and fires featured a lot in my hallucinations . The energy rush of the psychosis was quite incredible, almost orgasmic, but in a sinister sort of way.  Some of the imagery will stay in my mind forever –distorted bodies trapped in a huge net at the bottom of the sea, the collapse of an oil rig, of Siamese twins and severed limbs. I saw brightly coloured pictures and songs played n my mind particularly those by Marvin Gaye . I’d visualise extravagant Busby Berkeley musicals and sometimes the chattering of nonsense words in my mind became exhausting.
I was given a cocktail of anti psychotic and anti depressant medication which made me very sleepy
Every day in the psychiatric unit felt like a lifetime.  It is hard to express exactly what it feels like to experience an acute psychotic episode.  The underlying feeling is of sheer terror . I felt under constant threat and as though death was imminent at all times and at the end of a sequence of hallucinations,  I always felt relieved that I was alive, if not alive and well
I had to stay in hospital for six long months and had six treatments of electro convulsive therapy (ECT)  Of course at the time I was sectioned so had no say in this and it was afterwards I discovered that there is brain damage in every case.
My story has a happy ending. I did recover and have been largely free of medication for 12 years.  Sadly I did develop cataracts as a result of taking Chlorpromazine, Amitryptyline and other medications (this was confirmed by the ophthalmologist who diagnosed my lens opacity)

I decided to write about my experience of psychosis in my memoir Don’t Mind Me which was published in 2008.  I went back to the roots of my illness – my dysfunctional childhood  and traumas in adulthood and revelations  about my childhood have caused more than one member of my family to shun me, saying I have lied.  I have told the truth.   In any case I wrote the book to help others as well as myself and to inform mental health professionals and others wanting to gain an insight into mental illness and in particular psychosis.  By speaking out I hope to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and to raise awareness of the devastating side effects of psychiatric medication.



Reality: How does consciousness fit in? – life – 03 October 2012 – New Scientist

Reality: How does consciousness fit in? – life – 03 October 2012 – New Scientist.

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Psychiatric Medication and Side Effects


I grew up in a dysfunctional family and was thirteen when my grandmother died.   I became depressed.    I cried and heard voices
Without my knowledge or agreement my mother took me to the Child Guidance Clinic.  I was too frightened to speak out so I was medicated and labelled a psychiatric case.   These days  I would have been referred to a bereavement counsellor.   In my thirties I experienced an acute psychotic episode. I was hospitalised for six months and given up to 22 tablets a day
My mouth was very dry. Lack of saliva causes dental decay and I had to use an oral spray to keep my mouth moist.I had blurred vision as the medication played havoc with the focussing muscles in my eyes. I wore glasses prematurely
Fluid retention gave me swollen ankles. When I came off the anti psychotic Olanzapine my ankles were still badly swollen after a week and I was wearing shoes two sizes bigger. My GPprescribed potassium saving fast acting loop diuretics.Anti psychotic medication made me crave carbohydrates and I was desperately hungry . Chewing sugar free gum helped.    My GP prescribed artificial tear drops for my dry eyes and a coconut based preparation for my dry scaly scalp..Postural Hypotension was a problem. If I got up out of bed too quickly I would feel faint as the medication caused my blood pressure to fall. I had to lie flat for several minutes and then get up again. I learned to sit up first and then count to twenty before I stood up.

I was prescribed Procyclidine which reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It reduces the pyramidal side effects of anti psychotic medication. Procyclidine was given to me as an emergency treatment when I reacted to Risperidone. My jaw seemed to drop and I slurred when I spoke. The psychiatrist prescribed Procyclidine at half hour intervals until the symptoms stopped. I was unable to take Risperidone again – it made me see pictures of stained glass windows even if I closed my eyes
My ankles were swelling every day and a blood test showed that the ALT (Alanine Transaminase, a transaminase enzyme) was too high, indicating liver damage. My GP explained that my liver was fragile from the years of having to process all the medication. The reading did return to normal but it does show how medication harms the liver.
I had 6 treatments of electro convulsive therapy (ECT) after an electroencephalogram (EEG) . Things were normal; but a cerebral insult was seen ( a lesion which heals in time) The psychiatrist said it could be stress or the medication. An MRI scanlater showed no trace.Anti psychotic medications made me feel zombie like – my mind was “foggy” – with a sense of delay when talking. My senses were dulled. I neither used irony nor appreciated it. I felt slow mentally. I had no feelings. It was a shock to recover my feelings, dreams, reactions and sense of humour when I came off the medicationA routine eye test showed a loss of vision. I was diagnosed with cataracts. A blood test ruled out diabetes and the ophthalmologist said the lens opacity was different from the usual cataracts he saw. He asked if I’d ever taken the anti psychotic Chlorpromazine. I had, in large quantities, in l993. He said my cataracts were the result of medication. I l found out that Amitryptyline, Olanzapine and other drugs could have been to blame. The Health Trust initially said I could not expect psychiatrists to know about the side effects but I pointed out that these side effects had been listed in the BNF and MIMS since the l980s.
I have now had surgery and have artificial lens implants. I will always be angry that I developed cataracts.   If only I had been warned of the possibility; perhaps I could have made different choices.Awareness must be raised of all side effects and GPs, psychiatrists and mental health workers must discus risks at the onset of treatment. Regular check ups must be made to monitor physical health. There should be fewer prescriptions and more focus on talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy or meditation, mindfulness. Psychotherapy can bring about positive change in the brain, as can EMDR(Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing) without the long list of debilitating side effects. The government must invest more money in mental health research and in developing kinder and less invasive medications 


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The Life of Ryan"

Welcome to The Life of Ryan

The Isle Of Thanet News

News for Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and villages. Winner of KPBA Kent news website 2018, highly commended 2020. Winner commitment to the community 2020

Dave's Deliberations

David Matthew chews over some [mostly Christian] issues

Alternative Psychiatric Narratives

16-17 May 2014, Birkbeck, University of London

Through my Eyes

What's it all about!

Black Isle Media

We Provide The Facts, You Make The Decisions

Policy Press Blog

Publishing with a purpose

Alan's Blog

For what it's worth.....

Dr Goat's Blog

Putting hoof to keyboard to bring you views from the farmyard on public health, public mental health and related issues. And goats. These views are my own, and do not represent those of any organisations or endorse any political perspective - but whatever I'm eating may have been stolen.

Social Anxiety Revealed

the blog of the book

the free psychotherapy network

free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits

Miriam Drori, Author

writer, editor, public speaker


The yearly literary festival in the heart of Buckinghamshire


Campaigning to protect the 2004 Hunting Act

more follows

Because politics isn't just something that happens in the Palace of Westminster

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