Independent on Sunday campaign continues
- The Independent on Sunday newspaper continues its campaign for the sixth
week running with two main stories (excerpt and links to full stories below)
and four letters which I've typed below the story links as they will not be
on the net (one letter is from Deborah Tallis - someone of that name is a
member of some of these discussion boards). These letters indicate
dissatisfaction across the UK with our mental health services and raise
common problems. My sister was admitted to our local unit in Chertsey,
Surrey, on Jubilee Sunday, 4 June, via the Accident & Emergency Department
and I completely agree with the comment in the first letter from Tom Tully
about the system being so heavy-handed and unwilling to listen that I (the
relative) feel the same paranoia experienced by the patient. One of the key
requirements in the government's National Service Framework is "involving
users and carers" but this does not happen in practice.
The picture of Janet Cresswell published in the feature on her on 16 June is
used on the letters page today with the caption: "Detained for whose
benefit? Writer Janet Cresswell, above, who triggered 'The Independent on
Sunday' mental health campaign, has been in Broadmoor for 22 years and is
considered 'harmless' by many." Janet's own letter that she submitted to
the paper - pointing out that she would NOT be released even if she did
accept a diagnosis of mental illness - has not been published, nor a
correction to the number of years Janet has been incarcerated, which is 26
not 22 as stated in the stories. For information about Janet and to read
"The One Sided Wall" - an autobiographical play written when she had been in
Broadmoor for 12 years and performed in 1989, plus interview with her in the
London Evening Standard go to:
The IoS is also asking for personal stories, with an email contact at
mentalhealth@... or mail address at Mental Health, Independent
on Sunday, Newsdesk, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS
For details of previous weeks' stories:
Sunday 30 June
Sunday 7 July
Sunday 14 July -
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health/story.jsp?story=314778 for full
Mental Health: Mentally ill tourists cost NHS millions
By Sophie Goodchild and Elizabeth Hollander
14 July 2002
The NHS is paying out millions of pounds a year on private treatment for
mentally ill tourists who are not eligible for free healthcare in Britain.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health/story.jsp?story=314779 for full
Mental Health: 'As soon as Jack fled, they washed their hands of him'
By Jonathan Thompson
14 July 2002
An investigation has been launched at a controversial mental health hospital
after a patient was able to escape past guards - less than two weeks after a
woman was raped in the same psychiatric unit.
LETTERS PAGE Independent on Sunday 14 July 2002
Write to the Editor at The Independent on Sunday, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14
9RS, or fax to 020-7005 2628, or email to sundayletters@....
Letters should arrive by Thursday noon and include a postal address and
daytime telephone number. They may be edited for length (250 words maximum)
Picture of Janet Cresswell with caption -
"Detained for whose benefit? Writer Janet Cresswell, above, who triggered
'The Independent on Sunday' mental health campaign, has been in Broadmoor
for 22 years and is considered 'harmless' by many. (Making victims of the
Making Victims of the mentally ill
I was amazed and inspired by your coverage of the state of mental health
treatment in this country and the scary "big brother" type proposals by this
After having to stand by my son as he suffered the consequences of a
drug-orientated, coercive system, your headline "The treatment of the
mentally ill shames us all" (30 June) is spot on. Last summer my 23-year
old son was causing concern to some of the family. He had made several
impulsive decisions which had resulted in an unsuccessful trip abroad, some
wasted money and a failed driving test - no more, no less. He became
withdrawn, preferring not to answer questions on problems he might be having
and so was taken to see a doctor.
Six months, three clinical teams and four (badly prescribed and forcibly
administered) major tranquillisers later and he was reduced to an
incontinent, shuffling, chain-smoking shell of his former self. A prisoner
without a prisoner's rights. At one point he wasn't allowed to step outside
for a month. The system was so heavy-handed and unwilling to listen that
even I felt the paranoia most patients experience when subjected to this
kind of treatment.
Thank you, on behalf of all the good people I have got to know; who are
suffering silently and have no voice.
I was detained under the Mental Health Act for a total of four years, with
14 months of that time in a secure unit. I have never harmed anyone. My
only "crime" was that I wanted to die.
If this draft Bill comes into place then a lot of people will end up staying
away from psychiatry and not seeking help at an early stage for fear of
being detained. Although technically the Bill is aimed at those labelled
as having "dangerous severe personality disorder", it could be applied to
many others. The 3-4 per cent of the population given a personality
disorder diagnosis have particular reason to be concerned. If there were
appropriate services in place that people could approach at an early stage
then a Bill such as this would not be needed.
Where will the new legislation on mental health leave people like myself who
have the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder because we self-harm
as a means of coping with severe distress? It leaves the way open for
thousands of women to be treated in a way similar to violent individuals.
Three-quarters of people who self-harm have been subjected to child abuse
and so are already victims. This Bill victimises us again and is unjust.
This government has continued in the iniquities of its predecessor. The
quality of care of the mentally ill wins few votes and the massive
economies that have been made have caused those who are ill to deteriorate
by calculated and cynical neglect.
Virtually all the support services in the community have been reduced to a
Monday to Friday nine-to-five basis, instead of a 24-hour all-week basis.
In East Sussex over Christmas the "assertive outreach" (a kind of intensive
care for quite seriously ill patients) closed down for eight days, leaving
an answerphone. This is just when it is most needed - and getting an
emergency admission is made very difficult. In many areas it requires a
very long wait at the nearest A&E - something sure to put off the mentally
ill patient seeking help.
There is understandable public concern about acts committed by persons
known to have mental health problems. What the public is usually unaware of
is that in at least two-thirds of these cases the individual did seek help
before they deteriorated and were denied it. If they do present themselves
later they have often deteriorated and their treatment is then frequently
compulsory, which does not bring about an attitude of trust. The mentally
ill in the community, however disturbed, need access to asylums staffed by
professionals 24 hours a day; and the police, who have increasingly become
the frontline mental health service, need a place to which they can hand on
such a client.
Rev HUGH BRIDGE
posted by Rosemary
"Campaigning for good health & social care...it's for everyone"