Monday, May 9, 2011

The future looks very bright

I have now been in Australia for almost 9 weeks. It is definitely becoming a place we know almost as well as the UK. In fact talking to locals we realize we have travelled more extensively around Australia than most Australians. That is also true for us back in the UK , there are not many towns in the UK that either Ron or I haven’t been.

This has given us a fantastic opportunity to network, develop our idea’s on recovery, see how different places are taking forward recovery and unfortunately watch the same mistakes being made as each country strives to take services forward. Some parts of Australian mental health services do not look dissimilar to things that were happening in England 20 years ago. You could also argue the same in some parts of Scotland.

Where psychiatrists hold a substantial part of the power it seems to have been a lot harder to move towards a recovery vision of services. Beds seem to be a power base, as do the number of clients you have on your caseload. The systems tend to be more hierarchical with top down decision making, of course there are exceptions to this rule. In Australia poly pharmacy is regularly practiced & surprisingly instead of drug of last resort, Clozapine is very often given to very young people with only one episode of psychosis.

There are exceptions to the rule, Trieste manages with very few beds & have very developed community services & these developments have been implemented by psychiatrists. In Bethlehem hospital a Croatian psychiatrist Ivona along with the nursing staff are taking recovery forward. In West Cork Dr Pat Braken leads the way. In South London & Maudsley & St Georges an excellent paper has just been published “Recovery is for all-Hope, Agency and opportunity in psychiatry, a position paper by consultant psychiatrists. Dr Richard Warner from Bolder Colerado USA is also vey recovery focused.

What you do find though, is that where the state services are still lagging the voluntary sector is very forward thinking. Here in WA Joe Calleja & his staff at Richmond fellowship have led the way in both backing recovery & funding the Australian hearing voices network.

In Tasmania Anglicare, Aspire, Mission Australia, GROW & RFTAS are developing the recovery agenda with other N.G.O organisations. Although to be fair on the state services they have been heavily investing in training for all staff in taking recovery forward led by many enthusiastic professionals including Ellen Cross from their workforce development unit.

In Scotland SAMH took this role for many years though sadly this no longer seems the case.

England has a strong voluntary sector, Rethink being one of the leaders, St Mungo’s is another example as a homeless charity that has embraced the principles of recovery.

I think the future looks very bright I do not believe that recovery can be buried as another fad, more and more people are seeing the connectedness between trauma & mental distress, my dream is that in the future we will be concentrating on a wellbeing agenda, building resilience in our kids, and actively aware of spotting early on the signs of trauma & dealing with it effectively & early.

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices

Monday, January 18, 2010

Child's suicide raises medication questions

Little bodies sink into adult-sized conference chairs.

With crayons between their fingers, they color on a sheet of paper after writing promises to their parents -- "to control my anger," "to make good grades" and "to go to the good side" when deciding what path to take in life.

In a room at Halifax Health Behavioral Services on Jimmy Ann Drive, 10- and 11-year-olds are dealing with adult issues -- depression and mood swings.

N-J | David Massey
Walter Grimes reads to his great aunt Carrie Hill at home in Holly Hill.
For Walter Grimes, 11, his quiet demeanor is a sharp contrast from court documents describing a child in a school summer program who bit a teacher on both of her arms and punched and kicked her in the face. Walter, who was 10 at the time, was taken to Halifax Health Behavioral Services under the state's Baker Act as a threat to himself and others and charged with battery on a school official, records show.
Therapy and psychotropic medication -- medicine used for psychiatric reasons such as mood stabilizers, stimulants and drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- are helping him stay calm and concentrate, his therapist and great aunt said.
The question of how much is too much and how young is too young when it comes to prescribing psychotropic medications -- some that are not approved for children by the Food and Drug Administration -- is a statewide and national debate.
In Florida, 81,961 children covered by Medicaid were on psychotropic medications from January to June 2009, compared to 76,358 from January to June 2008, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration. Numbers for private health insurance companies are not public.
Local agencies are seeing a rise in the number of children with psychiatric problems, from severe anxiety to depression. They're also seeing more young children who are 5 or 6 years old. The concern is especially high in foster care, where a higher percentage of children are given psychotropic drugs than in the general population.
The April 2009 death of a South Florida 7-year-old foster child, Gabriel Myers -- who was prescribed several mind-altering drugs and hanged himself in his foster home -- sparked a statewide review and recommendations in November that will result in new rules and legislation in the coming months for children under foster care.
"We must do better for our children," said Alan Abramowitz, former local DCF administrator and state director of the DCF Family Safety Program Office. "Medication is not the cure-all."
Adderall is the psychotropic medication prescribed statewide in foster care to the largest number of children for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, DCF records show. Locally in foster care, the main psychotropic drug being prescribed is Seroquel for mental/mood conditions.
Some child advocates question whether medications -- some of which have serious side effects such as suicidal thoughts -- are being used as a quick fix to behavioral problems that children will grow out of because their brains are still growing.
"It shouldn't take mind-altering medications to help children grow up," said Karen A. Gievers, a child advocate and an attorney in Tallahassee. "It takes good parents to help children grow up."
Others say some children need medications to help them concentrate and succeed in life. Some are being exposed to more violence at home and dealing with issues not seen a decade ago.
"We get children who haven't giggled or laughed or smiled in years," said Shirley Holland, department manager at Halifax Health Behavioral Services, the local community mental health provider for children. "Once we add medication, it's like the light goes on. They experience life in a completely different way. It doesn't mean the burdens go away, but life is not so heavy."
Halifax Health Behavioral Services has seen the number of children admitted under the Baker Act as a danger to themselves or others almost triple in Volusia and Flagler in a three-year period. The agency treats about 3,000 children in all its programs -- more than half are on psychotropic medications.
The reasons behind the rise are unclear, but some point to children being subjected to more stress at home.
Holland said it would be unusual about 20 years ago to see a 12-year-old who was psychotic, hearing voices and hallucinating, but "they are younger than that now."

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices

Friday, November 27, 2009

I felt like I was crazy

I felt like I was crazy’

When Kamara Langenbrunner was 8, she started hearing voices. The first time it happened, the Cloquet girl, now 10, was staying at a Minneapolis women’s shelter with her mom and siblings. “I thought someone was really there and talking to me,” Kamara said. “I heard it say, ‘I am going to stay here and not go away until you do what I say.’ ”
By: Sarah Horner, Duluth News Tribune

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic

Taken from the Oprah Winfrey website, October 6th 2009, click on title for full story - you  can send your comments too. We are writing open letter to Oprah about the very troubling approach the docotrs are taking in "treating" Jani.

The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic

Jani Schofield, a 7-year-old schizophrenic
A child's imagination has no bounds. Some boys and girls pretend to be astronauts and mermaids. Others run alongside imaginary friends. But, for a few children around the world, the mind conjures hallucinations that never go away. At times, these make-believe visions even lead to violent behavior.

Michael and Susan Schofield know all too well how mental illness can affect a child's life. Their 7-year-old daughter, Jani, has been diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of childhood schizophrenia Jani's doctors say they've ever seen.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, schizophrenia is a chronic, disabling brain disorder that may cause a person to hear voices and misinterpret reality. In some cases, schizophrenic patients believe people are plotting to harm them, which causes extreme agitation or depression.

Jani may be younger than most people with schizophrenia, but she battles the same demons. In her case, hallucinations take the form of imaginary children and animals. There's a little girl named 24 Hours, a rat named Wednesday, and a cat named 400 who tells her to do bad things.

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How can I make the voice in my head stop?

Very unhelpful advice given to voice hearer, taken from CNN 6th October 2009, for a more useful approach go to

Expert Q&A

Q. I am a 50-year-old male and have been experiencing a voice talking to me. I lost most of my central vision about 11 years ago from a virus and am legally blind. I was diagnosed with depression two years ago by my doctor and he put me on 20 mg of paroxetine a day. I have always been an antisocial person but even more so after losing most of my vision. For the last several months there has been a voice talking to me. It just carries on normal conversations and warns me of various things, remarks about the news, people, daily activities (don't eat that, eat this instead), stay away from this or that person because they are out to harm you, your neighbors are watching you, etc. What is happening to me? Can you give me some suggestions on how to make the voice stop? I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you can give me. Thank You

A. ... Whatever else you do, keep telling yourself that the voice comes from a malfunction in your brain and under no circumstances pay any heed to what the voice says.

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Manchester | Man jailed for killing stranger

BBC NEWS UK England Manchester Man jailed for killing stranger: "Man jailed for killing stranger

Sidney Waller was stabbed in the neck
A man who stabbed a stranger to death in Manchester after hearing voices in his head has been jailed for life.
Paul Cusack stabbed joiner Sidney Waller, 67, in the neck on Mauldeth Road West in Withington before calling police to confess to the killing.
Cusack, who has a history of mental illness, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Mr Waller's family has demanded to know why Cusack, 32, was able to live in the community with little supervision."

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices

Hearing Voices – Underpinnings of Auditory Hallucinations | Brain Blogger

Full article here: Hearing Voices – Underpinnings of Auditory Hallucinations Brain Blogger:

"Hearing Voices – Underpinnings of Auditory Hallucinations
September 22, 2009 By Dirk Hanson, MAcloseDirk Hanson, MA Name: Dirk Hanson

About: Dirk Hanson is a freelance science writer and the author of 'The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction.' He is also the author of ''The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution.'' He has worked as a business and technology reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Share, Save, and Bookmark

In “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,” Julian Jaynes suggested back in 1976 that schizophrenia — like spirit possession and imaginary playmates — was a vestige of our brain’s bicameral heritage. Jaynes believed that in man’s early history, the left and right hemispheres of the brain did not “talk” to each other. They failed to communicate effectively across the corpus callosum, the bridge from one hemisphere to another. The result was, to Jaynes, obvious: People used to hear voices. Nowadays, most people who hear voices inside their head are diagnosed as schizophrenics."...

The past few years have also seen the development of a radical counter-movement that seeks to normalize the act of hearing voices. The movement is said to have originated in the Netherlands and the U.K. Intervoice, which bills itself as “the international community for hearing voices,” says they have found that many people who hear voices “are not troubled by them or have found their own ways of coping with them outside of psychiatric care.” Those voice hearers who are “overwhelmed by the negative and disempowering aspects of the experience” are often diagnosed as schizophrenics — “a harmful and stigmatizing concept,” in the opinion of Intervoice.

Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices