A few days ago an article was published in the media sharing the results of a Danish study. This study found that those who received 6-10 sessions of talking therapy after self-harming or suicide attempts were significantly less likely to self-harm or attempt suicide again. Participants were studied over a 20-year period.
New Ideas within Psychiatry
A week ago I attended the launch of Katie Mottram’s book Mend the Gap, an account of her unique experiences and perspective into psychiatric diagnoses and spiritual awakening. (You can read more about her book in my previous post: Mend the Gap: A New Hope for Mental Health.
Katie has first-hand experience having grown up with a mother who had repeated psychotic episodes and suicide attempts; Katie herself works in the mental health services; and also has experienced her own mental health issues. She explores the possibility that perhaps these ‘psychotic’ experiences and mental health issues are actually side effects of spiritual awakening.
The launch was extremely well attended and very well supported by Katie’s colleagues within the mental health services.
He gave a fascinating talk about how he went into psychiatry having learnt all the tools of the trade at university, and over the years has found there to be something missing or lacking in mental health services and psychiatry. Having spoken to some of his colleagues, he found he was by no means the only one who felt this.
It wasn’t until he went on a retreat and began practicing mindfulness and meditation that he began to realise that some of his own experiences during meditation were not unlike those reported as mental health issues and psychosis.
His experiences have lead to him running a new pilot scheme being trialled in various locations throughout the UK, and currently used successfully in Scandinavia, Germany and some of the US states.
Peer-supported Open Dialogue is a programme of talking therapy where meetings are attended by the patient, their family/social network and a psychiatrist or trained mental health worker.
What struck me in Dr Razzaque’s talk about the therapy was how the intention was for the psychiatrist to ‘leave his/her training at the door’ and to approach the meeting from a ‘human’ perspective, on the same level as the patient and attendees, rather than as an expert with greater power.
I think this is fantastic and will break down barriers between mental health staff and patients, which can sometimes feel like an ‘us against them’ process.
In Finland, of those who took part in the open-dialogue process, 75% who experienced psychosis returned to work or study within 2 years, and only 20% were still taking anti-psychotic medication after a 2 year follow-up.
It gives me so much hope to think there are mental health workers who are really making a difference with their new ideas. Psychosis and other mental health issues can only become more normalised as a result, which in turn reduces fear and stigma, and supports and empowers patients.
How a Mental Breakdown Can Lead to a Spiritual Awakening: By Dr. Russell Razzaque.