Today group members chose to talk about their experiences. We know that commissioning services are keen for feedback towards new services, so Choose Life wanted to use their voice to say what would help.
People thought that when they were admitted to psychiatric hospital they would have a space to heal and that somebody would be there to listen and that they would be able to talk through the confusion and despair.
In reality, the hospital was not safe, it was not a healing environment, it was hectic, chaotic, other patients had drugs and people found themselves exposed to dangerous and violent situations.
People acknowledged that the staff were good and caring but spent all their time doing damage control, so there was no-one to talk to about feelings, there was no-one to listen. People just got told to go back to bed and behave.
Some of the medication is toxic, with side effects. It changes you, and sometime you just get released or taken off meds without knowing how to care for yourself.
Seeing people get sectioned so easily is scary, so you repress all expression of emotion so that it doesn’t happen to you.
Would it be good if there was someone to listen to you (a listener, maybe a peer)?
Would it be helpful if the hospital had something like a Choose Life group equivalent?
YES, that would be wonderful
Today the group had their summer BBQ. It really was a beautiful and peaceful day held in the gorgeous surroundings of the private gardens. There was a real sense of togetherness and positivity from group members in the surroundings. It was a real team effort in terms of the preparation of the BBQ and transporting everything over to the gardens. We want to thank everyone involved for their help and support.
Below is an article about how nature can help our mental health:
“Nature is good medicine for the sick psyche. Nature doesn’t judge and cannot lie, and those are healing qualities. Judgmentalism and dishonesty are two responses from the outside world that […people who struggle with depression] rightly abhor. Many […people who struggle with depression] lives feel torn between needing company and needing solitude: nature provides both, at the same time.
What else happens, then, in this meeting of mind and green? Life happens: wriggly, thriving and green. In all its turning cycles – a season, a snail, a whirlpool of leaves in the wind – the sheer liveliness of the green world is good for the mind, for our psyches are life-lit, and on the lookout for all the vital signs, written in green.”
theguardian.com, Wednesday 8 January 2014
Today we looked at ways to overcome the stigma of mental health. All the group members told of their own experiences of dealing with stigma around their health problems. Some members explained how while growing up they were told to simply “pull yourself together” and to “maintain a stiff upper lip”. We discussed how previous generations did not talk about mental health-possibly due to circumstance e.g war times and to the fear of being seen as weak.
Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:
Reluctance to seek help or treatment
Lack of understanding by family/friends
Fewer opportunities for work
Losing belief in yourself
Some ways to cope with stigma can include:
Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame
Avoid isolating yourself
You are not your illness
Join a support group
Speak out against stigma
Lastly, we discussed how it was for men to talk about their illness to their friends/family without feeling a sense of shame. Our society sometimes tells us that men have to be stong all the time and not show any emotion or cry. Male members said that they liked having a mixed gender group as they valued a female’s point of view as well as being able talk to other men. In conclusion to today’s meeting, we agreed that while positive strides are being made to help change stigma, we also acknowledge that there is still some way to go.
Here is a video from the “Time to change” website which group members found interesting: