Thursday, 27 April 2017

Mental Health week... stones in my shoes

It is with great fervour that FEEL is welcoming back to Kingsley Hall critical psychiatrist Dr Joanna Moncrieff on 12th May.

David Kessel, (which coined FEEL), currently on the mend after a major accident, says he is looking forward to attend Dr Moncrieff's talk.

Professionals like Dr Moncrieff seem to be prepared to walk on burning coals in order to express their individual opinion. 
It is indeed fundamental to question some treatments, especially the damages caused by medication on a short and long term to people, and have a variety of alternatives for people to choose from on how they wish to be helped.

Avant-garde Norway has recently launched a medication-free treatment ward, while the Open Dialogue approach, started in Western Lapland, Finland years ago, is fast spreading around the world; there are even active peer supported networks now. 
"Psychiatry is cracking open and the users voices are heard", Robert Whitaker wrote. 
All work in progress, including the dismantling of big pharma monopoly in this hyper-profiting sector. Not saying that all drugs are bad here, some are useful (some keep me in life in fact!). But why are only a few limited brands easily and broadly available, to cure illness or to mantain them?
RADAR, one of the main topics that will be presented at FEEL event on 12 May, is a great initiative. The Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation And Reduction officially started last year, currently is recruiting participants in East London 
But how safe will this be? What safety nets are being created? Must admit that I have many doubts in regards.
Coming off psychiatric drugs can be a serious matter, talking by personal experience. The withdrawal effects really often are the cause of relapses. Many people compare psychiatric drugs discontinuation to the struggles of coming off from heroin or some pain killers, especially deadly synthetic opioids; not easy at all. 

We are indeed thankful that there is an ever growing number of researches experimenting a variety of approaches, hopefully also on own skin, in order to find what can really help ease the difficulties of people experiencing mental distress, or find the real causes of it. Substances are not necessarily required, aren't they? Severe and acute crisis are another matter.
Wishing the very best for the success of RADAR, in any case.

Unfortunately it is with sadness that due to prior commitments I'll have to miss this event. My peers were not a tiny interested that 12 May did not suit me. Eventually I was told that nobody heard my opposition. Of course, the testosterone filled room was loudly discussing the influencing wonders of this forthcoming  event... and I thought that I was the only deaf one!

What makes me laugh the most about the reason why the 12 May was chosen, is that it was picked because it falls on mental health week
Now, would a Survivor really care if it is mental health week? What difference would that make in Survivors everyday life? 

To be expected on mental health week: some/many "normal" people to get engulfed by the media articles and events (free or non) on themes that will let them discover they too have a mental health to take care about...perhaps self-assigning a few labels, then go crazy completely and calling for help. Welcome to the club, I usually say ...

The saddest thing is that occasionally FEEL meetings are visited by people wishing to talk about "mental health", yet they have no clue of what being a Survivor means. This seems to been happening more frequently lately, perhaps as mental health is becoming a fashionable topic.
In almost ten years since FEEL has been around, there have been many genuine people joining us, eager to share their stories, respecting and paying attention to what the values and ethos of the group are.

So what has been happening lately? From (refused) suggested re-branding, to the group branching out into various other forms, someone must be thinking that gentrification is really the only way forward for the Friends of East End Loonies.
Apparently for these people only if we conform to some regular patriarchal norms (so importantly changing our name, tipical!), success will be guaranteed, perhaps FEEL could even reach 1000s of followers in social media, fame, success!  
Kind of makes me think about the Christians discovering the Americas... A bit of decency Monsieurs de Farceurs

FEEL has also frequently been criticised, among other things, for having an "open door" policy and welcoming everyone at our meetings and events. I still believe this is important to happen, as long as people can talk honestly, respecting the group core values, and members and each other.
Be prepared to find some stubborn people not necessarily agreeing with each other, but respecting each others, at the core; late comers seem to be deaf and blind to this dynamics sometimes.
If new influencing strategy is used, even with good intentions in mind, if not discussed openly and plainly feels like a back stab. What are your aims folks?

On another hand I must stress that if people are looking for personal support FEEL was never intended to offer help as such.
Do please visit the many organisation trained to work in the field. 
Apparently some good attempts are also being done at peer level (not Survivors) at the Lifehouse: phone Nick on 07926 886372 or email Kevin on for more info.

Please book your seats for the more neutral networking event The irresistible rise of mental health crisis, happening this Saturday 29 April 10-3:30, with screening of I Daniel Blake 
and the subtitled screening of The Divide on Tue 16 May 7-10 PM

Wishing the best of luck to all involved in the planning/participation to the forthcoming events!

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