Archive for April, 2006

National Depression Week

April 9, 2006

If you suffer with depression and are interested in complementary therapies, then have a look at the link to the Depression Alliance website.   There is a section on complementary therapies.



and me too

April 9, 2006

Sometimes I think that people believe that stigma only applies to those with long term mental ill health and forget that others, including social work and professional staff experience it too.  Getting a professional organisation/employer to accept the reality of your depression or stress induced panic can be very difficult, and often results in your being put to one side when promotion possibilities come along, and under handedly encouraged to 'move on' to other work.


Carer’s Support Group

April 7, 2006

A group meets in Chepstow on the last Wednesday of every month.   It takes place in the chapel room at Chepstow Community Hospital between 1030 and 1230.   It is run by Graham from Hafal and all carers of someone suffering with mental health problems are welcome.   For further information contact Graham on 07779018079 or follow the Hafal link

Information provided by Janet Lake,

MIND Conference Report 22nd and 23rd November – Cardiff

April 4, 2006

John Griffiths AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, opened the conference by declaring that mental health services are not as developed as they could be. He stated that we have a long way to go to modernise mental health services in Wales. He mentioned the extra £5m which is going to be invested in mental health services in Wales. He advocated a holistic approach to mental health services in Wales and working in partnership

Lindsay Foyster, Director of MIND Cymru stated that it is a critical time for mental health in Wales. She highlighted that mental health services are deterioriating and not improving in Wales. Lindsay said it was now time to act. We are now five years down the line of the implementation of the National Service Framework (NSF). Users must be involved in mental health service planning, but this is not happening. We need to be pro-active to get change. She also declared that there is a postcode lottery in the provision of mental health services in Wales. The Assembly should put mental health as a top priority. She stated that we must stop talking and get on with it.

Anne Lloyd, Director of NHS and Social Care at the National Assembly focussed on recent initiatives to improve mental healthcare in Wales. She emphasised the importance of provision of integrated services. She said that there was an opportunity with the NSF to make things better. She stated she was not very happy at all with the level of attention paid to mental health services by Trusts. There will be questioning of Trusts as to what services are provided. Chief Executives will be asked to provide alternatives to institutional care. In regard to the £5m that has been allocated to mental health services, she said the Minister would not be happy if mental health services lose out on reallocation of money.

Lynne Roberts, a nurse consultant with North Glamorgan NHS Trust talked about the Tidal Model in the first workshop. This model is being recommended by the National Service Framework at the National Assembly. This approach promotes the inclusion of the service user fully in the planning of support, treatment and care within the in-patient setting. Lynne discussed a number of studies which indicated how ineffective hospital care is. The Tidal Model recommends a minimum of 15 minutes interaction with a qualified member of staff a day.  There should also be regular group work (three times a day was recommended).

Mark Boulter, a GP and the primary care representative on the Mental Health NSF Implementation Advisory group highlighted the National Institute of Clinical Excellence Guidelines for GPs. Apparently 80% of all mental health care is the responsibility of GPs. Only one third of GPs have any training in mental health care. GPs are the first point of contact for people with mental health problems. The NICE Depression guidelines in 2004 recommended screening for high-risk groups, watchful waiting, guided self-help and exercise, treatment with SSRI’s, combined treatment and referral.

Linda Dunion, talked about about “See Me”, Scotland’s anti-stigma campaign. She is campaign director of this project. “See Me” is a unique model of anti-stigma work. Led by the five mental health charities in Scotland with full funding from the Scottish Executive. The campaign aims at both national and local levels. Key target groups are the general public, the media, young people and workplaces. Evaluation to date suggests that “See Me” is beginning to improve public attitudes in Scotland.

Phil Chick covered the working of the National Public Health Service for Wales, which emerged with the abolition of the Health Authorities. Phil Chick is the Director of Mental Health for the National Assembly. He discussed the role of the National Public Health Service with statutory and other bodies involved with Mental Health. Its strategic aims are to promote health and well being, prevent and treat disease, reduce inequalities and improve equity. The National Assembly for Wales, the National Public Health Service and MIND Cymru are to work in partnership to reduce stigma for mental health service users by raising public awareness.

In the presentation, Creative Commissioning, Lynn Friedl made the case for social prescription. Lyn is the editor of the Journal of Public Mental Health. Social prescription is defined as non-medical responses to preventing, treating, and coping with mental health problems. Lynne documented a lot of evidence for the benefits of non-pharmacological treatments, both in addition to medication or sometimes the alternative. However, there are currently inequalities in access to options like physical activity, bibliotherapy, arts on prescription, computer assisted self-help and talking therapies.

The second workshop was on the DEEP (Development, Employment and Equality Project). This is a participatory action research project intended to explore real and perceived barriers to employment. Andrew Hubbard talked about his research on social identity.  He found that self-identity for disabled people is socially constructed through discrimination, assumption and prejudice. Teresa Lewis talked about her research on volunteering. The workshop highlighted the difference between equality and diversity. Diversity is characterised by an emphasis on individuals, self-identity and a recognition that different people are equally valid. Equality on the other hand is characterised by mainstream values where people are treated as equal and the same.

The last section of the conference was a discussion between Lindsay Foyster and Prof Richard Williams of the University of Glamorgan, who is the Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Heads the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales. He started by declaring that world and people of mental health care had changed. Imposing hierarchies no longer worked. The power of the voluntary and statutory network is very powerful. He stated that the NSF was too broad and too big. He recommended that a smaller group of objectives should be prioritised across Wales.

I found the conference extremely valuable to provide me with background information on mental health policy in Wales. I now understand a lot more about the National Service framework and things like the NICE guidelines. This knowledge is extremely useful to me in my role as member of shadow Pwyllgor. The speed networking session was also very valuable as you could talk for five minutes with speakers on the second day. The conference was also a good social occasion; the entertainment from Sweet Fontaine in the evening was very enjoyable.

Author: Dr Beverley Holbrooke 

Straight from the Heart

April 4, 2006

I felt that I had to write this down. I have never written like this before. I don't like writing letters, and was terrible at essays at school.

When I can't see the point of it, the sense of it, I can't understand why you let it happen, and still expect me to be full of joy, when this suffering goes on and on. The pain goes on and gets more entrenched, more pressurised, more bloody, more impossible, making every day that dawns, when it eventually does, seem to be blacker than the previous day and there is no respite, no comfort, no relief from the unending pain, longing for the bright tomorrow, whenever that will be. Will it ever come? I see myself further and further divorced from all the things I love and want to do. Oh, how I want to be in tune with myself again. How I need someone to know how lonely and dark this place is, how empty and space less, how absolutely desolate where nothing grows and the light never shines. How I really need someone to understand and get in there with me. To get there you have to go through the terrible twilight world where very little happens, and into a trance-like state where everything vegetates and nothing seems clear and distinct any more. Nothing seems recognisable, everything seems to merge and nothing seems real any more, everything exists, copes, survives from minute to minute, and from hour to hour, to day, to night, and on and on with nothing but emptiness and nothingness to be my lot. Where do I fit in, I don't because I am here but really somewhere else, with no feeling or intensity, no more of anything, just existing, just hoping that someone will join me to lift me out of this pit. I call existence into something called life with meaning and colour and newness and love and hope and something that really happens, like it does to others all around me who cannot understand and may not try to see where I am and how I feel. Now each day seems like 50 hours and how I want to be real, and taken seriously as a person, not just an object of pity or someone to look down on, or a large receptacle to fill with pills. Oh, I long for that day when I can go and do and be me, and count for something, be something, and be a real person, yes, down there is so much to be sorted out, but down there is me, a special person desperate to experience life and emotions, and have fun and time to get a life and see it as other do. I don't want to see it through the eyes of a psychiatrist, or a nurse, or a consultant, or a hospital, or medication, but through my own mind, my own eyes, my own emotions, this person I call me. Deep down I am there, I know I am, and I am reaching up and doing my best, and I am screaming inside, and I am desperate to see the real me and that sunlight again, oh, and see what others do. I want to do what others do, smell what others smell, and just be taken seriously and be listened to, and oh for the day when I am again at peace. I can and I will take my rightful place in society, which will be a long, long way from the person I am now. This will be a place when and where the birds sing, and the flowers bloom, and a place where I am able to love and be loved, a place of tranquillity and fruitfulness, not a place of never-ending winters. A place where the woods and snow and dark days encompass me and there is a longing for Spring, the Spring will bring me hope, get me out of this pit I am in and towards a new horizon, not an impossible dream. Please be patient, the new me will appear, it is trying, it is ever, ever so difficult, please don't give up on me. The weights on me seem so heavy, it takes all my strength sometimes even to speak. I am there, I am trying to, please, please don't leave me alone in this dark unfriendly place, keep in with me. Everyday brings me closer to a place I would prefer to be. A place that you are my friend, a place of beauty and peace, and a place free of restrictions. This is a place of blue water and streams and the sun and the birds and friends and laughter, oh instead of deep winter. Please hold my hand, help me through this, don't leave me. I too am a person with emotions and ambitions, and everything else, like you. Please keep on with me, I need that lifeline to show am still living and not in vain. My life will come up for air eventually, and I will walk and walk and not be in a pit anymore, and will work and be free to walk anywhere I please, just like you, free to make decisions and not hampered by my state of utter desolation, please continue to help me. Then I, like you, will at last be able to have a life like you. Thank you, but what you see now is not the real me, but have patience, the real me will emerge, please help me, help me, have patience. My shoes are very heavy to walk in right now, but one day I will be able to walk in sandals, shoes that are light, because I shall be free from all this rubbish and, like you, I will be able to live again. 

I firstly did this for two reasons, to help others in similar situations, to let them know they are not alone, who feel like they feel and act like they act. To also bring hope and encouragement to people, who society would rather pass by on the other side. Secondly it was done for professionals whom I respect, to show them what it can feel like to be in such a position, be so low that you wonder what it is all for. Please read it and keep it somewhere safe, to remind you what it is like to have a problem no one can see.

To be that person there is a way through, but it does take time, effort, courage, patience and counselling to talk through the pain and the problems, a lot of love and continuous understanding from those around you, and for me prayers helped a lot as well.

I would appreciate any feedback on this article. Please be free to copy this and send it to any friends or professionals who may benefit from this.


I am a single parent dad now with responsibility for 2 daughters, carer full time for the older one.

Don't ever feel alone you can always write. (no e-mail, sorry)

Author Charles Parish