Tuesday, 16 July 2013

New ways of thinking about Mental Health

Every single one of us is potentially a ‘mental health patient’. We all have our issues, the problems we hide from, the challenges that make us feel less than perfect, the past experiences we don’t want to face. All of these threaten our mental health, our emotional stability, our perceived survival.

This is all perfectly normal, I say it again; we all, each and every one of us have our own demons to overcome. It is when our daily struggles become categorised as mental illness or symptoms of such that we really struggle to accept our frailty and any diagnosis along with it.

What’s worse is most of us try to bear our pain alone, not seeking help, because we don’t want to be labelled as ‘mentally ill.’

It’s not the image we want others to have of us, it’s a label we reject as it still carries such a stigma within our culture, within families, within our own psyche, and we’ll do all we can to avoid it. Including self medicating with alcohol, food, drugs, self-harming, whatever gets us through the day.

What’s worse is the diagnosis, the treatment and any care given by professionals perpetuates the situation by treating our ‘clinical disorders’ and ‘mental illness’, instead of providing simple solutions that help maintain a healthy emotional lifestyle to begin with.

We walk around labelling ourselves with jargon out of psychiatric textbooks, ‘I’m bipolar with attachment disorder and personality dysfunction’ and we live from the label not from ourselves and who we really are.

When really, the problem is we have unresolved issues of childhood abuse, or we have little to no self esteem, struggling with speaking up and being heard, with valuing our experience and opinions.

 The best help available is that which is early, in recognising the signs that we need support before we hit crisis point and mental collapse, and in finding that help without needing to label ourselves as ‘mentally ill’ or in some way damaged or deficient.

If we could seek help just because we are finding it hard to cope with a stressful work or home situation, rather than having to be labelled as ‘depressed’ then surely, we’d look for help sooner?

Support groups for relationship problems, work issues, parenting and family struggles, body and self care issues seem to me rather less threatening to my self-image than those with more clinical descriptions and names.

The fundamental to mental health is emotional wellbeing, and to achieve emotional wellbeing we must find support in our areas of personal challenge, to be able to engage in conversations with experts and each other to share and learn and grow stronger, building social experiences and relationships that are therapeutic and empowering.

 Let’s stop disempowering those who are struggling by labelling them as dysfunctional and ‘ill’ and instead have services that support the person in pain, services that dramatically improve mental health care.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Mental Illness is UK's Biggest Health Problem But Gets Just 10% of NHS Budget

Royal College of Psychiatrists report highlights huge disparities between mental and physical health treatment

By Hannah Osborne: Subscribe to Hannah's
March 26, 2013 12:42 PM GMT
Report calls for better equality between treatment of physical and mental health (Reuters)
Report calls for better equality between treatment of physical and mental health (Reuters)
More people in the UK suffer from mental health problems than cancer or heart disease yet just 11 percent of the NHS's budget is spent on treatments for mental illness.
A report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has highlighted huge disparities between treatment of mental and physical health.

Whole-Person Care: From Rhetoric to Reality has been published a week before new NHS structures come into force. It offers recommendations on how mental health can be better treated.

Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Much has been done to improve mental health in the last 10 years but it still does not receive the same attention as physical health, and the consequences can be serious.

"People with severe mental illness have a reduced life expectancy of 15-20 years, yet the majority of reasons for this are avoidable.

"Achieving parity of esteem for mental health is everybody's business and responsibility. I therefore urge the government, policymakers, service commissioners and providers, professionals and the public to always think in terms of the whole person - body and mind - and to apply a 'parity test' to all their activities and to their attitudes."

The report found that mental health accounts for 22.8 percent of the so-called "disease burden" in the UK - more than cardiovascular disease (16.2 percent) or cancer (15.9 percent).

Mental health overshadowed
Under the NHS reforms, services will be opened up to competition from care providers and local authorities will take on a bigger role, assuming responsibility for public health budgets.

The report says that the government should make treatment for physical and mental health problems equal with agreed waiting times and emergency care.

Public health programmes should include a focus on the mental health dimensions of physical health problems, such as smoking, obesity and substance abuse, as well targeting stigmas attached to mental health illnesses.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "People often tell us about the stark differences they have experienced in accessing NHS services for physical and mental health care, feeling they have to 'settle for less' with their mental health.

"One person told us they get immediate attention for slightly high blood pressure, but face indifference and long waits about their mental health needs unless they are suicidal. Others have told us that they experience far better treatment in A&E for physical symptoms than when they need emergency help in a mental health crisis or for self-harm injuries. This is not acceptable."

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said: "For too long our mental health has been overlooked. Children and adults alike have not received the timely help they need when they become unwell. And the physical health of people with a mental illness has been overshadowed.

"Today's report sets out clear objectives and welcome commitments to putting this right. The disparities we face today require change at every level, from national decisions about how money is spent to the everyday work of health and care professionals.

"But by starting on the journey today we can make great progress and start offering people with mental health conditions a fairer chance in life."
Give mental health same priority as physical, says Royal College of Psychiatrists

Mental health should be given as much priority as physical health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has claimed, as those with severe mental illness die 15 to 20 years sooner.

''Achieving parity of esteem for mental health is everybody's business and responsibility," said Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
10:02PM GMT 25 Mar 2013

The organisations, which take charge of commissioning NHS services from next week, should ensure that patients get ''equivalent levels of access'' to treatments for mental health problems as for physical health problems.

The ''long-standing and continuing'' lack of parity between mental and physical health is ''inequitable and socially unjust'', according to a new report by the College.

''Much has been done to improve mental health in the last 10 years but it still does not receive the same attention as physical health, and the consequences can be serious,'' said Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

''People with severe mental illness have a reduced life expectancy of 15 to 20 years yet the majority of reasons for this are avoidable.

''Achieving parity of esteem for mental health is everybody's business and responsibility.

''I therefore urge the Government, policy-makers, service commissioners and providers, professionals and the public to always think in terms of the whole person - body and mind - and to apply a 'parity test' to all their activities and to their attitudes.''

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb added: ''I have made it clear that our goal - and that of the health and care system - is to make sure that mental health has equal priority with physical health.

''It is very encouraging to see that a number of organisations have made specific commitments to put mental health on a par with physical health as part of this work.

''I will consider these findings and recommendations carefully to think through what more the Government can do. I would urge others in the health and care system to do the same.''
Children With Mentally Ill Parents Lack Support

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Ofsted have issued a recommendation to the UK government to make it compulsory that mental health services gather data about children who have parents or carers with mental health problems.
The report, titled "What about the children?", was published by the two bodies as a joint survey, it brought to light the need to identify children living with parents/guardians who have
mental health problems, considering many of them are not receiving the help they need.

Children who live with parents or carers with mental health problems are at an increased risk of harm.

Although it is mandatory to gather data about children living with parents who have drug or alcohol problems - which is reported to the National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse - there is currently no such measure among children living with parents with mental health problems.

Often, children who are being raised by parents/guardians with mental health issues are very poorly supported.

The most common characteristics of families in which children had either died or been seriously harmed were either mental health difficulties or drug/alcohol problems, according to an Ofsted analysis of case reviews between 2007 and 2011.

Mental health problems common among adults

Around 1 in 6 adults in the UK, close to 9 million, experiences mental health problems at some point in their lives. It is estimated that around 30 percent of adults with mental health problems have children.

Childhood abuse can cause severe long term damage. A previous study published in the journal Child Development revealed that
children who suffer abuse can suffer from chronic stress which can harm development and health - leading to depression.

According to the Deputy Social Care Director for Ofsted, Sally Rowe:

"This report raises some significant concerns for children who are living in very difficult and vulnerable situations. If children living with parents with mental health problems are to receive the right support and protection then the same level of scrutiny should be applied as those whose parents have issues with substance abuse.

That is why we believe it should be a mandatory requirement for this data to be collected to ensure local agencies are focused on the needs of these children."

The regulators believe that although the majority of parents with mental health problems live fairly ordinary family lives, there are also many families who would benefit from additional support.

The CQC Director for Regulatory Development, Philip King added:

"Adult mental health services and drug and substance misuse services play an important role in child protection. The point of our joint work is not to question the parenting ability of people with mental health problems, many lead perfectly ordinary family lives.

However, information from some notable serious case reviews highlight the fact that some parents and their children need additional support due to the effects that mental illness can have on families. In these circumstances identification and early help is key, and this is what we have identified as the issue."

There's a recent example where the mental health of a mother of two children, who had a history of anxiety and depression, worsened following the death of her partner to a point where she spent most the day asleep and hadn't showered in 6 months. Had it not been for a hospital admission, a referral to social services on behalf of the children would not have been made.

Children in such cases should receive sustained support for long term help, say the two regulators.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mental Health Expectations On Police 'Unacceptable'

Mental Health Expectations On Police 'Unacceptable'
New Supers' President calls for urgent review of legislation, claiming "too many" officers are being called upon to deal with mental health issues.
Date - 22nd March 2013
Courtesy of - Royston Martis - Police Oracle
The new president of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales has called for an urgent review of legislation relating to police powers and mental health.
Ch Supt Irene Curtis (pictured), who took up the role on March 18, said expectations placed on officers dealing with mental health issues had reached an “unacceptable level”, adding: “Police are always seen as the last resort, as the ones that will pick up the pieces.”
She said more clarification is needed to enable officers to deal with people who have mental health problems.
Currently, under the Mental Health Act, officers cannot detain people who are not in a public place and, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, officers can force entry to protect life but cannot detain a person in order to do so.
“The legislation surrounding the use of police powers to deal with mental health is in urgent need of review and clarification,” said Ch Supt Curtis.
The Police Service needed to identify and address the increasing demands created by gaps and reductions in other agencies' provision, she said.
“Currently, the police play too great a role in what is, after all, a medical emergency,” Ch Supt Curtis added. “Far too many people detained by police under the Mental Health Act end up in police cells simply because there is nowhere else to take them.
“It is not a crime to be unwell and the chronic lack of provision for mental health assessment places ("places of safety") needs to be addressed immediately, as well as the lack of training for officers to deal effectively and safely with incidents involving people suffering from mental illness.”
Home Secretary Theresa May is said to have written to chief constables and police and crime commissioners earlier this month urging them to work more closely with new local NHS commissioners around mental health matters.
“We all want to see less routine use being made of police stations as a place of safety,” said Mrs May, adding: “Detention should not be a substitute for treatment and care.”
Ch Supt Curtis has been a police officer with Lancashire Constabulary since 1985 and vice president of the Superintendents’ Association since 2010. She took over from retiring colleague, Derek Barnett.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Soul's Quest
for Depth, Meaning & Wholeness

by Maureen B. Roberts. PhD

As a soul-centred psychiatric therapist, I am disturbed that so many people are being seduced into viewing the often valuable and necessary sufferings of soul, which include most experiences of depression, as 'mental illness'. In other words, sufferers of depression are often forced to endure, in addition to their pain and energy loss, the stigma of being told that they're 'ill', hence that their depression is a problem to be eliminated, or that it has no value, meaning, or purpose.
From a soul-centred psychiatric perspective, however, depression is not primarily another word for unhappiness; nor is it 'mental illness.' It is, rather, in many instances a response to soullessness (or what shamans call 'soul loss'), including, ironically enough, the soullessness of the materialist medical model which continues to 'treat' depression as a biologic illness that can be band-aided with damaging drugs.

Wholeness vs 'Happiness'

In contrast to this deeply entrenched 'mental illness' fiction, I believe that what our ailing culture needs, above all, is not a happiness which requires the elimination of suffering. I believe that to achieve genuine individual and cultural healing, we need, instead, more wholeness , that is, more soulful and well-rounded individuals who embody life's dance of opposites and in so doing live fully human, fully divine lives. We need more people who are not ashamed of, or embarrassed by their pain, but who can instead respond to their own and others' suffering - as an unavoidable facet of the human condition - with love, patience, sympathy, nurturing and respect.
True happiness, after all, does not exclude sadness, but rather embraces it within the living paradox which personal wholeness demands. As the quiet contentedness of joy, such happiness is not, I suggest, attained by seeking happiness, nor by eliminating sadness through addressing purely personal wants, needs, fears, anxieties and insecurities. Indeed, a reactionary cult of 'happiness', based on the indiscriminate elimination of all psychospiritual suffering, is in the longrun as lopsided, narrow, false, repressive and self-defeating as the current 'epidemic' of depression. Endorsing happiness above sadness, in other words, simply amounts to replacing one extreme (which is falsely viewed in a totally negative light) with its opposite, which is seen as positive. In reality, though, not all happiness is positive - and not all depression is 'bad'.

Depression as Soul Loss

Given that many concerned folk are desperately seeking to address the depression 'plague', there is, I suggest, an urgent need to 're-vision', or re-evaluate depression from a soul-centred angle, if we are to avoid exacerbating this cultural crisis through misguided attempts to stifle the urgent needs of soul which depression is often calling our attention to. From soul's angle, far from being an 'insidious illness', depression is often a valuable phase of a person's life journey, a critical juncture at which a soul-searching re-assessment of priorites, directions, relationships, work, gifts, self-image, home life, spirituality and/or values is being called for. For this reason, dreams and myths often contain the theme of the 'buried treasure',
symbolically the soul hidden, or trapped in the unconscious depths, which the hero or heroine must retrieve in order to become healed, mature, content and whole.
Mythically, the gods reside not only in celestial realms, but also down below in Underworld, the mythic equivalent of the unconscious. Soul, which unlike light, airy 'spirit', gravitates to the body, the Earth and the watery realms of night and ocean depth, does not lift us to mountainous heights, but pulls us - when it's neglected, stifled, or shunned - down into neurosis, depression, suicide, psychosis and psychospiritual chaos. As an example, in the Greek myth of the human girl Psyche, whose name means 'soul', Psyche abandoned by Eros (the divine Love which soul needs) is left alone, directionless, depressed - literally, 'pulled down' - hence she is finally driven to Underworld depths. For Eros, mysterious god of entanglements in relationship, involvement with life, immersion in suffering, depth and joy, is
the god behind human vulnerability, the one who exposes us, through love, betrayal, cruelty and kindness, to life's inseparable blend of woundedness and pleasure.

Psyche Down Under

Psyche, in other words, is a myth that provides a 'psych-ological' context for understanding depression as soul's need to descend in order to retrieve its Underworld treasure. By exploring depression from this soul-centred perspective, we have thus re-mythologized a universal (archetypal) human experience: soul's hunger for depth and for the elusive riches harboured by Hades, Lord of the dark Underworld of the unconscious.
My intuition is that just as Psyche had to journey 'down under' to find her way back to lost Eros, so we shall be driven to the depths of our wounds, depressions, madness and fears in order to be reunited with lost soul. It is my shamanic vision that this re-mythologizing of our lives is the medicine we need if we are to help one another reconnect to a life wrestled with, shared and celebrated in all its fullness, vibrancy, imaginal richness, pain and joy. With this guiding vision at heart, the following soul-centred delineation of depression offers itself as a yeast, vessel and catalyst to help reactivate the sense of soul within the individual, in the floundering field of mental health, and throughout Australian culture as a whole.

What is Depression?

Depression, which literally means 'a lowering', occurs when energy (libido) which is normally available for day-to-day conscious living, becomes depleted, blocked, pulled down, or trapped in the depths of the unconscious. Depression can arise through endless combinations of psychospiritual and physical causes, but in many cases, its primary source is an unresolved, repressed, or forgotten grief, trauma, crisis, conflict or loss. In addition, depression is often an emotional, relational and spiritual response to a sense of meaninglessness, lack of harmony with Nature, or lack of truthfulness with oneself and others. Poor diet, seasonal changes, lack of sunshine and lack of exercise can contribute to depression, as can soulless environments, materialism, lack of imagination, damaging relationships, dull routine, empty forms of work, and apparent lack of life purpose.
The suggestion that depression is 'mental illness' is absurd, given that nearly all of us get depressed at times. From a soul-centred psychiatric perspective, depression is a natural human response to an endless variety of circumstances and states of unresolved suffering, or tension within the psyche. While it can be debilitating (for example, in cases of repressed conflict, extreme crisis, or forgotten childhood trauma), it can also have a creative outcome. For example, some depressions are caused by a lowering of consciousness in order to retrieve needed wisdom, or creative and healing gifts from the unconscious. This kind of depression is best dramatized as myth, when the hero or heroine must go through a symbolic death and rebirth. Examples of such myths are Dionysus, Osiris, Christ, Demeter and Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice. Reading and reflecting on such myths can help provide an imaginal context for soul's journey through depression. Bear in mind that the depression is never the end of the story. There's always a rebirth at the end of the journey!

Cocoon Therapy

What about (so-called) 'Seasonal Affective Disorder'? The psyche has natural diurnal, mythic and seasonal rhythms and cycles. Calling winter sadness a 'disorder' creates the distasteful and stigmatizing impression that seasonal depression is a 'mental illness', rather than a normal response to the decreased light, activity and energy output that characterize winter as Nature's time of symbolic death and hibernation. Just as bulbs lie dormant and bears hibernate, so the psyche as part of Nature instinctively lowers (that is, 'depresses') its energy levels and output in winter.
In winter, allow yourself time, as Native Americans do, to go 'back to the blanket' when you need to. Using what I call 'cocoon therapy', wrap yourself - for however long you need to - in warm blankets, or animal skins which form a symbolic cocoon in which the psyche feels protected and can rest, regenerate and prepare for a Spring rebirth. Make sure you are in a quiet, dark, safe, comforting space that cannot be interrupted by other people, noise, or phone calls. (Quiet pets, open fires, incense, essential oils, candles, stones, music and plants can be good company, however).
Above all, be kind to yourself; listen to your heart and gut intuition to find out what the soul in you needs. Remind yourself that it's alright to do nothing, except rest, wait, reflect, unwind, let go, sleep and renew, whenever you need to. Alternately, gentle, non-strenuous exercise, long walks (particularly in sunshine, through forests, and/or near flowing water, or the ocean), warm baths, restful music, meditation and gardening all help calm and nourish the psyche and re-attune it to Nature. As well, wear energizing and uplifting colours, particularly reds, yellows and oranges, and decorate your home similarly.

Dangers of Anti-depressant Drugs

In contrast to the healing power of Nature, anti-depressant drugs are toxic substances which work by manipulating an increase in levels of neurotransmitters in order to elevate moods. However, these transmitters are then dispersed instead of being reabsorbed, as would occur naturally. This may eventually lead to a depletion of these necessary transmitters, such that the original depression becomes worse.
All psychiatric drugs work by disabling normal brain function. They never improve the brain but instead dampen feelings that a person may need to feel, in order to work naturally through unresolved pain or trauma. In addition, biologic psychiatry has not proven the genetic/biologic cause of any so-called 'mental illness.' This does not, however, stop psychiatry from making unproven claims that depression, psychotic, anxiety and alcohol 'disorders' are primarily biologic and/or genetic in origin. Such pseudo-medical beliefs are based on unprovable materialist dogma. In other words, from the contrary wholistic perspective (in which psyche and body are inseparably one), one expects physical factors to be involved, without presuming that they are the sole, or main cause of the depression.

Jungian & Shamanic Therapy

Given the dangers of psychiatric drugs, what safe, drug-free therapies are available for depression? Firstly, it is vital for a person's dignity and well-being that his/her whole range of needs - physical, emotional and spiritual - be respected and addressed. Healing therapies include Jungian and shamanic approaches. The effectiveness of Jungian psychotherapy resides in the fact that it gives equal attention to both the conscious and unconscious situations, and with depression the unconscious cannot be ignored, since most of the person's energy is moving about 'down' there. Jungian therapy involves a non-authoritarian, one-to-one dialogue which draws on the healing potential within the individual's unconscious, as it expresses itself in dreams, visions, artwork, sculpture, and through guided visualization (which Jung called 'active imagination'). Through this shared therapeutic journey, the cause of the depression can be gently unearthed, by patiently and respectfully exploring the person's life story, in which is embedded the trauma, conflict, loss, or crisis which has triggered the depression.
During shamanic journeys, the shaman acts on behalf of the patient, by exploring World or Underworld through intense imaginal journeying. Led by guides, the shaman seeks lost, wandered, or trapped soul parts which, in being separated from their parent personality, have caused what shamanic cultures call the patient's 'loss of soul', one form of depression. Depressive soul loss can occur through unresolved childhood trauma, pining for a person or place elsewhere in the world, suppression of one's creativity, disempowering relationships, environments and work, or through damage to the aura caused by astral vampires and parasites. The shamanic therapist guides the wandered soul part(s) back to the patient and often, through a ritual, blows them back into the patient via the ears, heart or stomach.

What to Avoid

Avoid any therapies which aim to control, repress, or manipulatethe unconscious, since this can backfire or amplify the depression, if its cause is a buried trauma, unresolved grief, deep-seated conflict, or latent psychosis. Avoid 'rebirthing', since it can push an unstable person into psychosis. Stay clear of 'positive thinking' methods, or simplistic techniques, counselling and theories, since they fail to do justice to the complexity of thepsyche and do not honour the unavoidable demands of the unconscious. Be wary of distanced, clinical, hurried, authoritarian, or cerebral practitioners. Just as a plant needs nurturing and care, so the therapist (as a 'servant of soul') needs to be a kind, respectful, non-controlling, intuitive, natural, imaginative and patient midwife to soul's journeys.
Always seek an initial evaluation by a practitioner who works from a soul-centred psychiatric perspective, which honours emotional, individual and psychospiritual values and needs. This will allow for a reliable assessment of whether the depression is primarily a psychospiritual response, or whether nutritional and/or exercise factors play the prominent role. If you wish to avoid anti-depressant drugs, be wary of consultations with GPs and psychiatrists who have no time to listen to your personal story, or who try to convince you that depression is a 'chemical imbalance' that can be 'treated' with drugs. Also, bear in mind that GPs and biologic psychiatrists (which Medicare funds) are not trained, or qualified to offer soul-centred psychotherapy for acute psychospiritual crises, conflicts, depression or trauma.

Who Can Help?

Seek out any Jungian Analysts, or experienced shamanic and depth psychotherapists in your area, or contact the Schizophrenia Crisis Helpline. In cases of severe depression, suspected
trauma, psychosis, or manic-depression, avoid self-proclaimed 'spiritual healers' and suchlike, particularly if they have no reputable credentials, training and experience in the field of soul-centred psychiatry. Hypnotherapy may be helpful when dealing with suspected repressed trauma. Naturopaths, massage therapists, homeopaths, aromatherapists, herbalists and acupuncturists can help address associated dietary and physical needs.
Remember, the therapist is the therapy , so reputable credentials are not enough. As well, look for desirable personal qualities, such as compassion, wisdom based on experience, flexibility, respect for your values and experiences, and lack of desire to offer hasty advice, or to dominate and control. Finally, each of us can help ourselves, by trusting our intuition, by reclaiming our personal power and right to control our own lives, by avoiding whoever and whatever makes us feel ill, uneasy, or bad about ourselves, by remaining close to Nature, and by following our hearts - wherever they lead us. Though we walk 'through the valley of the shadow of death' (= depression), we need not fear.
In the end, the unshakable radiance of joy comes only through a life of integrity, ruthless honesty, meaning, detachment (from joy and pain), kindness to all, and the selfless service of the World that arises from each of us following our unique 'path with heart'. As someone who in this way shares the heart-rending pain and torment of many sufferers of depression and schizophrenia, I cannot separate the joy of serving truth and the World from the Wounded Healer's marriage of sorrow and pain.
In this sense, when consciousness operates from the level of the heart - symbolically the divine centre at which all is one and where all opposites are reconciled - we live and breathe an inseparable blend of joy and sorrow, death and life, dark and light, since at this level, we empathise the suffering of those with whom we are one. Such empathy, or ability to feel another's pain as if it is one's own, is the 'passion of com-passion', given that compassion means 'to suffer with'. And compassion, as the truth of love, is inseparable from the love of truth. To become a balanced, content and healthy culture we must, in other words, replace the 'mental illness' lie with the truth and needs of soul.
Text c. 2001 Darknight Publications by Maureen B. Roberts, PhD
from Soul in Crisis: Shamanic Diagnosis & Healing for
Psychospiritual Wounds
Not to be reproduced whole or in part
without the author's permission.

Dr Maureen Roberts, a Member of the International Council of
Analytical Psychology, is a soul-centred psychiatric therapist,
prize-winning writer, artist, musician, and initiated Celtic
shaman who practises in Adelaide, South Australia. She has
taught courses on Jungian psychology for The University of
Adelaide and is Director of the Schizophrenia Drug-free Crisis
Centre. Dr Roberts, who has been flown interstate by families
seeking drug-free psychiatric help for relatives, is available for
private shamanic training, Jungian therapy, shamanic healing
and soul retrieval work, seminars, retreats, Vision Quests and

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The 5 Myths of Extreme Self Care or What Kind of Excuses can I Come up with Today? - By Lori Smith ***

Eight years ago I was a control freak perfectionist workaholic! I worked 16 hour days, every day. One day, I found myself siting in my car in the parkade and crying. I was tired, sooo tired!

I decided that I needed to take care of me!

It wasn't easy and it took time, but today I can say that my life has changed 180 degrees. I make decision everyday that lead me further down the path of self love and self care.

Often people comment on my life and ask how I did it... but many immediately become defensive and start to list off excuses for why they can't make these changes in their life.... do you find yourself feeling the same way?

Myth: This makes me feel too selfish!
Truth: If you don't take care of you, who will?

It is human nature to take care of others first; normally it is our immediate or extended families.

Ask yourself this... what would your family do if you died of a heart attack? Who would fix them then?

They would mourn and miss you, sure! But they would pick up their lives and move on.

* What exactly have you done for yourself lately?
* How do you take care of yourself?
* How do you acknowledge yourself?

There are many things that you can change about your life: jobs, careers, husbands/significant other, cities, countries, houses, cars... But does changing any or all of these things accomplish the feeling you are looking for? And if you make changes and do NOT change how you are taking care of yourself, does it really impact your life?

Things might change for a while, but they return you right back to the same space unless you decide to change yourself. Then and only then will things flow together and begin to feel like what you are looking for.

Myth: My Family doesn't understand me!
Truth: Do you know how to ask for what you need?

It is not that you family doesn't understand you.... It is that you have let them walk all over you, of course not intentionally.

Taking into consideration that we are ‘doing what must be done' to make sure things are taken care of, what steps have you taken to let your family know what you need? It is easy!

* Talk to your significant other and family
* Ask for what you need
* Your family says sure, they would be happy to help; that's what families do

The next important step is put into words that feeling you are looking for. I recommend reading this over every week or so and updating it. As you start working through the steps you will start to see new improved visions and feelings. You will be able to be clearer and clearer of what you are looking to feel.

* The goal I want to achieve is:
* The reason I want to achieve this goal is:
* My life would change in the following manner if I achieved my goal:
* I would be happier if I achieved my goal because:

Maybe you have a very simple goal; maybe you just need to spend 30 minutes a day in peace and quiet.

So let's try that discussion again.

* Call a family meeting -- just let them know you have something you want to run past them
* Ask them what for what you need -- I would like it if for 30 minutes after I get home from work, I can spend time alone in my office/bedroom, I just feel that I want to be able to switch gears from work and then I can spend better quality time with you because I am not worrying about things at the office.
* Your family says sure -- well of course they do, your family loves you, they just didn't know that you needed the time.

There is one catch to this though. You actually need to do it. Use your 30 minutes: meditate, exercise, read, BUT leave work at work and truly be fully present with your family. If they can see that nothing has changed, then they will not accept your boundaries.

Myth: I don't have the time!
Truth: Creating organization gives you the time.

Daily habits or rituals will help you organize your time. How much time do you spend looking for your bills at the end of the month? How much time do you spend on Saturday on doing laundry?

Now I have made a conscious effort to get up 30 minutes early so that I have time to myself in the mornings. To me the effort to get up is very little compared to the enormous benefits I get from having my day completely organized.

The point is start something... even if the only thing you do is wake up 15 minutes early and drink your water/juice in silence while you are writing your "To Do" list for the day.

Myth: If I can't do it correctly, I don't do it at all!
Truth: Simple changes make a big difference.

You may be a control freak or a perfectionist. You have being doing it for as long as you can remember and you probably have no clue about where to even begin to stop.

But you can stop and you can move on from here.

First: Breathe
Second: Breathe again
Third: Pick just one thing to change

It is not possible to change everything in one day, one week or one year even; this is a process, a journey to create a better you.

Let me tell you about the actions I took to do this.

1. I hired people around me that could take on some of my redundant tasks.

2. I started to say no to taking on additional tasks. I would simply say that I was loaded right now, but they could check back in 3 months or I would recommend an ‘up and comer' who had promise.

3. Sometimes, you just need to shut off the light and leave the office. Maybe you didn't get something completed; it will be there tomorrow. But your wife or husband might not be, your kids are another day older, your parents are another day older.

It starts with just one baby step, one simple little thing, like delegating those reports.

Myth: I know ALL of this, I have tired and I failed!
Truth: Knowing is one thing, taking ACTION is totally different.

I am not one to dwell on the negative or the failures. You tired and failed before - that means one less way to try it. Now is the time to try something new.

Now is the time to take action! Success doesn't have to be complicated. It's about doing the little things every day. Each week, focus on making one change.

Once you get it down, focus on something else. If you improve just one thing every week, imagine the change you'll see over the next five years.

Did you hear yourself in some of these excuses? Did they make you feel uncomfortable? Great! Now you have a great starting point. Now you can make the decision to take back control and you can choose each and every day to focus on self love and self care.
Take your first simple step today!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Thousands of teenagers 'denied' mental health care

Page last updated at 06:57 GMT, Monday, 11 March 2013
Woman with head in her hands
Thousands of teenagers in England are being denied access to free mental health care because of funding cuts, it is being claimed.
Newsbeat's been given exclusive access to figures from the charity Young Minds which show a number of local authorities have reduced spending for mental health services for young people.
The charity conducted a review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the whole of the UK.
Of the 51 local authorities to respond, 34 revealed they had cut their budgets since 2010.
Although NHS funding has remained steady, it's claimed the cuts in funding from local authorities means services such as drop-in counselling and advice lines are losing out.
Lucie Russell Lucie Russell says it is 'vital' young people can get mental health advice Central government cuts have put pressure on local authority budgets in England since 2010, with many being forced to make major savings.
Young Minds says it appreciates cuts need to be made, however it claims not treating people when they show early signs of mental health problems ends up costing the economy more in the long term as many end up needing expensive NHS care.
"When a young person approaches someone and says 'I don't feel ok' it's vital for them, and for our economy, that those problems are seen to," said Lucie Russell, campaigns director for Young Minds.
One service that's been affected is Off The Record Bristol, a charity offering free counselling service for young people aged up to 25.

Council cuts 2010-2013

  • Derby City Council - 41%
  • Redcar and Cleveland - 27%
  • Norfolk City Council - 35%
  • Sefton Council - 29%
Source: Young Minds
The group is partly funded by Bristol City Council and was recently told it had to stop treating people from nearby areas like South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
Carina Andrews, 19, lives in South Gloucestershire and has benefited from Off The Record counselling in the past when she was treated for anxiety.
"Things were getting on top of me. These low moods appeared, I had anxiety for a long time. The counselling was fantastic, it completely built my confidence."
However, she's worried that if she needed similar support in the future she would be turned away because of where she lives.
Carina Andrews Carina Andrews says she has benefitted from 'fantastic' counselling "I literally live a street into South Gloucestershire and I couldn't receive counselling anymore because of that. That worries me a little bit.
"If I did start to struggle, where would I go?"
The charity's director Simon Newitt estimates they're now turning away at least 200 people a year.
He says: "It's a rubbish conversation to have, to say 'We can't help you and there's nothing in your area that you can access.'"
The Department of Health say they've spent more than £50m over the past four years on talking therapies and have also put pressure on local NHS departments to make sure they deliver services.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Bill Would Require Mental Health Assessments For Schoolchildren

Measure Runs Into Opposition From Home-Schooling Parents; ACLU Says Screenings Should Be Optional -

(May god and Reason save us from politicans who don't understand and who are probably primed by pharma companies! Because no child needs to be labelled as mentally ill or potentially so, it's stigmatising and self -fulfilling. Once they start on the drugs, they'll never come off them. - editorial comment)

MIDDLETOWN — Lawmakers are considering a measure that would make Connecticut the first state in the nation to mandate universal mental health assessments for school-age children.
Senate Bill 374 — one of several relating to mental health policy in the aftermath of the Newtown attack — would require all public schoolchildren in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 to undergo a behavioral health screening.

The law would also apply to home-schooled children ages 12, 14 and 17. It makes no mention of private or parochial school students.

The assessments would be confidential, the bill says; the results would be shared only with the child's parents.

Public schools already conduct vision and hearing screenings and school nurses periodically check spines for scoliosis. This bill would add mandatory behavioral health assessments to the list.

Several mental health experts said the legislation, while flawed, could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health problems in children.

But the proposal has been met by intense opposition from home-schooling parents, about three dozen of whom attended a hearing held by the legislature's public health committee Friday. More than 70 others registered their opposition in written testimony, a committee staffer said.

"Those kinds of decisions for our children need to be in the hands of my husband and I, in conjunction with whatever health care professionals we work with,'' said Sarah Wallace of Prospect, who home schools her three children. "Having assessments done by screeners is really an unnecessary invasion."

Another home-schooling parent, Jeanette Sterling of Southington, waited for hours to testify against the bill. Her two daughters, who accompanied her, got a real-life civics lesson.

"What will they do with the information?" Sterling said. "How will they label these kids?"

Some of those same concerns were raised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

"If the screenings were optional, the ACLU of Connecticut would most likely support this legislation,'' David McGuire, a staff attorney for the organization, wrote in testimony submitted to the committee.

While the ACLU recognizes the value of such screenings, "help will not be effective if forced on children and their families, whose consent and cooperation is essential to successful screening and to any ensuing diagnosis and treatment,'' McGuire said. "Proceeding without consent would threaten families' privacy and the parents' rights to choose what is best for their children."

The assessment bill is one of several measures relating to mental health policy that state lawmakers are considering in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Earlier this week, a legislative subcommittee recommended the formation of a task force to examine mental health issues in greater detail.

But several speakers pointed out that people with mental illness are generally not violent, and some studies show that they are far more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators.

Daniela Giordano, public policy director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Connecticut, applauded the idea behind the bill but said the vaguely worded measure doesn't address the crucial issue of treatment.

"We agree that better screening and early detection are extremely important measures to successful ... recovery efforts,'' Giordano told the committee.

But, she added, without a plan for treatment, such screenings would not address the real problem. "Only about one-fourth of children and youth who currently identified as needing behavioral health treatment currently receive such treatments,'' she said.

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut and a critic of the bill, said improving the mental health system for children and adolescents is more complex than simply assessing every child.

"The problem is not that troubled children go undiagnosed,'' he said, "but in the delivery of services. What parents really need is better access to services and the consolidation of agencies so that parents with troubled children are not sent from one agency to another."

JoAnn Eaccarino, president of the board of the Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers, backs the bill. But she said the mandatory assessments should start even earlier than the middle school years.

 "Our suggestion would be to start these assessments with their first entry into school,'' she told the panel in written testimony. "Educators have told us that they can identify a troubled child by first grade...so waiting until sixth grade may have missed some critical developmental milestones."

The hearing was held at Wesleyan University in Middletown as part of an effort by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey to increase public participation in state government by holding hearings outside the Legislative Office Building.

Autism Shock Therapy Practiced In US Is Torture, Says UN Official

Some practices used as “therapy” for autism in the United States amount to torture, a U.N. representative says. The U.N.’s Juan Mendez is the organization’s special rapporteur on torture, and in his report examining torture worldwide, he’s called out the only facility in the United States that uses “skin shocks” to ‘treat’ people with severe mental illness or developmental disabilities, including autism.

That facility is the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), formerly the Behavioral Research Institute. While it once was located in California and then moved to Rhode Island, the facility is now sited in Massachusetts. Mendez expresses concern in his report (p. 84) that if Massachusetts becomes too hot to hold the JRC, the center might simply relocate again, and he urges action at the federal level to end the use of such aversives nationwide.

But wait, you might say. What does shocking people have to do with autism or mental illness treatment in the United States?

If you look at the science, not one thing. But the JRC is the reality. This center has been the focus of considerable controversy, especially since the release of this graphic and disturbing video of a teenager being “treated” at the center with what the JRC, in its posted response [PDF] to accusations, calls “skin shock treatments.”

The center, which a report says “brought in $55 million in revenue in the year ending June 2011,” received a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stating that the devices the staff uses to shock patients–who wear a backpack wired to various parts of their bodies for easy zapping–violate FDA regulations.

The devices, which center staff created and designated as “Graduated Electronic Decelerators” (GEDs), were approved in 1994. However, since that approval, the JRC team has jacked up the voltage on them. It has done so twice, in fact, putting them out of compliance. Their rationale, it seems, was that the original device was just too weak to hurt enough.
According to reports, some parents argue that these shocks are the only effective therapies for their children who engage in harm to self or others. But this story, “The Shocking Truth,” by Paul Kix, which appeared in Boston Magazine in 2008, describes the use of these shock aversives to punish a young girl with cerebral palsy for moaning and reaching for a staff member’s hand and as a consequence for another child who closed his eyes for more than five seconds.

The story is a tough read, and there are other, unconfirmed stories from residents who have described similar experiences at the center.

Unfortunately for some ‘students’ at the center, the end doesn’t appear to be in sight. Mendez says in his report (p. 83) that while
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) approved regulation changes that limited the use of Level III Aversive Interventions (including skin shock), this new regulation does still allow the use of electric shocks for those students who had an existing court-approved treatment plan as of September 1, 2011 (115 CMR 5.14). Under the revised regulations, only new students in Massachusetts are protected from Level III aversives, including electric shock or prolonged restraints.
In other words, these interventions are bad enough that no one should have them administered and should be protected from them, but students who were unfortunate enough to have them in a treatment plan already are … grandfathered in for torture?

What science backs up the use of electric shocks to the skin as an appropriate way of modifying behaviors? Not much, unless you’re a rodent. First, this “therapy” is not to be confused with electroconvulsive therapy which, although controversial, is administered to patients under general anesthesia and involves electric currents to the brain to induce seizures.

Case studies and some reports indicate efficacy of this extremely controversial treatment for depression and other disorders. But the kind of shock used at the JRC is called “contingent shock,” and the small group of authors, including those affiliated with the JRC, who publish on it do so in rather chilling language.

An example comes from a study (abstract only) led by JRC collaborator P.C. Duker. The authors were trying to determine whether or not shocks administered to the same area would be more effective–i.e., cause more pain–than repeat shocks to different areas. Here’s what they write in their abstract:
Electric shocks were identical to those that (sic) used in clinical practice. The second shock in succession to the same location of the body produced higher pain intensity ratings than the first shock and (sic) that the third shock in succession to the same location of the body produced higher pain intensity ratings than the second shock in succession.
For most people, that escalation would be a bad thing, this heightening intensity with repeated shocks to the same place. But the authors see it differently:
Our data suggest that repeated shock to the same location is likely to be more effective to establish suppression than repeated shock to different locations.
The “suppression” references suppressing the negative behaviors the shocks are intended to stop.

The literature on “contingent shock” is sparse, at best, mostly pertains to being effective in rodents, and seems to have come almost to a complete stop at the turn of the 21st century.

One would like to think that perhaps with the dawning of a new millenium, we had entered a new age of evidence-based, nonbarbaric practices to help–not restrain, seclude, or shock–those with the most intense mental disturbances or developmental disabilities and that this new insight precluded even conducting clinical studies to evaluate these “therapeutic” approaches.

However, since 2002, according to a PubMed search, there has been one article [PDF] evaluating contingent shock; more specifically, the investigators evaluated its side effects. Two of the four authors cite their affiliation as the JRC, and one is Matthew Israel, JRC’s founder. Perhaps not surprisingly, the authors conclude that there are no negative side effects with this therapy.

Matthew Israel, also possibly not surprisingly, seems to have studied under B.F. Skinner, inventor of the Skinner box, which can include an electrified floor to shock rodents and condition them.

According to a 2007 interview Israel did with Mother Jones, early aversives Israel used in his work with people included spanking, pinching, spraying water in the face, and breaking a vial of ammonia under the nose. In the interview, he says these approaches have fallen out of favor because they are ‘politically incorrect’, and he describes how he turned to shock aversives:
You do find a lot of these in the literature of the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s—more so then, because it has become so politically incorrect. What you’ll also find is the skin shock. They would use a cattle prod. My consulting psychiatrist would say, “Why don’t you use the skin shock? It’s so much cleaner.”
He developed the higher-voltage GED, he tells the interviewer, because
… some students had adapted to the GED. You can adapt to aversive conditions and procedures. The body is made that way. Odors, for example, are aversive at first, but the body adapts. That happens, unfortunately, with many kinds of punishment as well.

Israel left the JRC in 2011 to avoid doing a prison sentence for allegedly destroying evidence in a criminal case in which the center was accused of wrongfully administering dozens of shocks to two disabled teens. In the Mother Jones interview, he is quoted as saying that the GED4 “leaves a mark.” He says,
…in some students it creates a mark that may last for days. I can’t think of a single one (negative side effect) except that it leaves a mark.
The mark that we can see and the hidden scars we can’t both represent what the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, calls … well, torture. To quote Mendez:
The rights of the students of the JRC subjected to … electric shock and physical means of restraints have been violated under the U.N. Convention against Torture and other international standards.
The U.S. government appears to agree that the practice is insupportable, having been cited in Mendez’s report (p. 83) as stating:
“The use of aversive therapy by JRC has been challenged through a variety of state and federal legislative and judicial actions,” including the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into possible violations of civil rights laws, which remains open and ongoing.
Yet the JRC remains open and ongoing … and shocking. Why is that?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

5 ways you trick yourself into prolonging emotional stress

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 by: Mike Bundrant

iNaturalNews) Most people are surprised to learn that their favorite coping mechanism for stress actually causes more problems than it solves. Let's look at five steps to effectively dealing with stress and five reactions to stress that trick you into prolonging it.

Imagine something simple that might cause emotional stress, such as coming home to find that your husband has ignored his promise to clean the house and is self-absorbed in his favorite hobby.

To deal with this situation effectively, you can 1) take notice of how you feel and 2) make sure your feelings are valid. Then, 3) express your feelings assertively, 4) clear up any misunderstandings, 5) create new expectations and a plan. Then, you can let the stress go, feeling like you have dealt with the situation.

This isn't always easy, but if you do it consistently, you'll find yourself able to let go of emotional stress more readily. In fact, I don't know anyone who does the above consistently that is chronically stressed in the area of concern.

The problem is, we don't do the above five things.

Worse, typical ways of reacting to stressful situations actually encourage hanging onto and expanding the stress. It's as if some part of you does not want to let it go, but indulge in the emotional fallout.

Why on earth would you hang on to emotional stress? The gist of it is that it maintains the status quo. At some point in life, probably before you can remember, you grew accustomed to a certain brand of
emotional pain and your mind assimilated it as part of the deal. You developed a tolerance for it and perhaps even developed an identity around suffering.

Now, if you have not consciously come to terms with it, you trick yourself in to hanging on to the status quo. In fact, some people do not know who they'd be without their particular brand of emotional angst. The solution is to see the truth - that typical
coping mechanisms for stress are actually a means to unwittingly prolong the agony.

Once you see how you trick yourself, you can stop doing it.

Here are five ways you trick yourself into hanging onto emotional pain.

So, you've walked in the door to a messy house and a self-absorbed, hobby-obsessed spouse. Here we go:

1. Outright denial. A sure way to keep your
stress festering is to deny its existence. Just pretend you don't notice the messy house. When he asks how you're doing, tell him, "Oh, just fine." Make nice and completely bury your feelings. Hopefully you will forget all about it.

But you won't. It will eat at you. It will fester. It will turn into resentment that will pop out unexpectedly and create more stress. You have tricked yourself into carrying this one and adding it to the pile of other stressors you have denied.

2. Refusing to express. Ok, you have acknowledged to yourself that the messy
house is a problem, but you won't speak up. You tell yourself that you shouldn't have to say anything or that he wouldn't care anyway. So, you mope around. When he asks what is wrong, you tell him, "Nothing."

"Ok, whatever," he says and returns to his silly hobby. You are still stuck in stress and now it is building.

3. The freak out. In this case, you swing the other way and let your emotions rip. You are righteously indignant, beside yourself in a rage and in his face.

This encourages him to get defend himself, accuse you of being insane and pretend he is no longer obligated to do anything for such a lunatic. Does this alleviate your stress or just invite more?

4. Making excuses. "He's been so busy lately. I don't blame him for ignoring the house. Besides, his boss is overbearing and I don't need to be adding to it. He's been wanting to do his hobby all week, so who am I to ruin it?"

Letting him off the hook by making excuses for him may help avoid a conflict, but won't ease your stress. The house is still a mess. He is still ignoring the problem. You've made excuses for him, so he is no longer obligated in your (conscious) mind. Now, you've just added the burden of cleaning the house to your list. Are you less stressed now, or more?

5. Sugar-coating. Mary Poppins sang, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," but I don't think stress was the medicine she had in mind.

Just the same, sugar coating
emotional stress makes it more tolerable. Believe it or not, human beings (including you) are masters at it. How could you sugar coat your husband's negligence?
Oh, the house is not that messy. It will just take me a little while to spruce up.

Look at him, so cute out there doing his little hobby. He's so sweet.

Well, I guess I just have to keep a positive attitude here, take charge and clean up this mess!

You've just made your stress tolerable, instead of dealing with it, like sugar-coating small doses of cyanide - it's easier to swallow that way.

If you catch yourself doing any of the above, ask yourself if it will really help to resolve your stress, or encourage you to hang on to stress. When you realize you are setting yourself up for more stress again and again, you may begin to see it as simple self-sabotage.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039365_emotional_stress_tricks_coping_mechanisms.html#ixzz2MkY4wBNo