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Direct action

Rambuie Perspecador

Rambuie Perspecador

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Dec 21, 2007
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338
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Nottingham
An outraged and dis-illusioned Carer and former 'YOUR VOICE' editor has issued this call for action on behalf of us, the people with schizophrenia. You views are of course most welcome! :flowers:


The hijacking of schizophrenia
By Terry Hammond

Despite all the developments in community care, the mental health
system is failing people with schizophrenia.
Research from St George’s hospital in London (Dr Swaran Singh) has shown
that the quality of life for people with schizophrenia has actually deteriorated
over the last 20 years. It is fast becoming ‘the neglected illness’ and all this is happening in the name of ‘recovery’ – ‘empowerment’ – ‘independence’.
There needs to be a drastic review of the way in which schizophrenia is being addressed.
I believe there is no comparison between the life-changing effects caused by
schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness. Whilst I don’t want to
denigrate the impact of other mental illnesses; schizophrenia is profoundly
different, only 20 per cent survive the worst ravages of this dreadful condition.
Most people who develop schizophrenia do not go on to live ‘normal’ lives.
Most are unable to work. Few get married or successfully socially integrate
nor do they become prime ministers, spin-doctors, comic geniuses or award
winning actors!
50 per cent attempt suicide, 10 per cent will succeed
Research from Sweden shows that 43 per cent of people with schizophrenia
have no friends, other than close relatives. Other research has shown that 80 per cent are unemployed. Even worse, the Mental Health Foundation
estimates that 25 per cent of homeless people have a diagnosis of
schizophrenia. Some 50 per cent will attempt suicide, 10 per cent will
succeed. There are, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, nearly
5000 people with psychosis in British prisons – primarily schizophrenia.
Even those in hospital do not escape neglect. A report by Mind found that 51
per cent of patients in hospital have been verbally or physically threatened;
this has been backed up by an audit by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
This wholesale neglect of people with schizophrenia has become a national
scandal.



The Guardian, 15 April 2004
More than 50,000 people with long-term mental illness are being left to rot by the NHS because they do not qualify for emergency psychiatric care, the
charity Rethink warned yesterday.
Their survey of more than 3,000 patients identified a “forgotten generation” of middle-aged patients who survive with an abysmal quality of life and had
received no hospital care or home support over the last 12 months.
Many of the day centres providing them with support were closed over the
past few years so that the government could divert resources into crisis
intervention and services for younger people.
This outrageous state of affairs continues to be tolerated and continues to get worse. It is now forty years since the government introduced the brave new world of Community Care and, in that time, we have seen tremendous
advances in the care and support for people with physical disabilities – wheelchair access to all public buildings, for example, is now the norm. But we are going backwards with the care and support of schizophrenia.
How has this happened? I believe society in general, and especially some
community-based workers, have failed to understand the complex and
problematic nature of schizophrenia. Too many have failed to understand that schizophrenia is different and needs dealing with considerably more
understanding and subtlety.

Clichés rule, OK
One of the key reasons, in my view, why society is failing to understand
schizophrenia as an illness, is because too many policy makers and
politicians have been taken in by the ideological claptrap which has been
preached over the years, by the mental health ‘extremists’ – the social model bigots, you know the type – you mustn’t mention the word ‘illness’. ‘It’s all the fault of the medical system’, or that ‘day centres are institutional and regressive!’ Clichés rule, ok – ‘empowerment’ – ‘independence’ –
‘normalisation’ – ‘recovery’; all worthy aspirations, yes, but in the hands of
politicians and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), they are simply excuses for
delivering community care on the cheap. The mental health extremists have
sold schizophrenia down the river; they have not only hijacked schizophrenia, they have betrayed the current 72,000 people with the illness.
But it is not just the extremists who are to blame, it is also a small group of
service users who have had the ear of government and, whilst their motives
have been genuine, they have misrepresented the needs of people with
schizophrenia. Why? Because most of those who are campaigning at this
level are individuals with depressive and anxiety disorders – not
schizophrenia!
An example of how some service users have corrupted government policy has been the recent government mental health policy ‘Back into work, back into society – more social inclusion for people with mental health problems’ (the title says it all!). The policy includes a ‘refocus of day services’. This has lead to the closure of hundreds of day centres around the country. This policy has, according to government, come direct from the wishes of ‘services users’. But just who are these services users? The government have not been able to say. Were the service users really representative of the thousands of people with schizophrenia who depend on the day services for companionship and company? I think not.
Around the country service users are trying to save their day centres
In Southampton the local PCT tried to close the day centre and was met by an unprecedented backlash from service users that succeeded in saving it.
Around the country service users are trying to save their day centres, not
close them. That is the real voice of the service user – a message the
government does not wish to hear; so much for user involvement!
We are having a re-run of the 1960s when Enoch Powell introduced
Community Care. This resulted in thousands of patients being
discharged from nineteenth century institutions into twentieth century
poverty – this action I helped to expose then, with the help of Marjorie
Wallace (Marjorie was then a journalist on the Sunday Times before she
became Chief Executive of SANE). We must not allow a repeat of what
is, in the end, a money-saving policy cloaked in the language of
‘empowerment and independence’. The reality of independence for
many people with schizophrenia is to be condemned to a life of
loneliness and isolation, and living in a solitary bedsit within a society
that wishes they were not there.
I believe we are witnessing the introduction of legislation that will have a
devastating effect on people with schizophrenia. All is being done in the name of progress and the legislation is slipping in under our noses. Another
example is the plan to get rid of CPA (Care Programme Approach). Currently
the CPA is one sure route into the mental health system and continued help – take the CPA away and just watch PCTs use it as an excuse to expunge
those with enduring mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, from their books.
We have got to force the government to listen to the down-to-earth views of
the silent majority – the tens of thousands of services users and their families and the thousands of frustrated professionals who have had to implement flawed policies. The pendulum has swung too far towards the extremists – it has got to be forced back.
It is time to call for a major re-examination of how we treat and care for people with schizophrenia
To get the pendulum moving, I believe it is time for a united approach borne
by direct action; I believe that those of us who care about the future of people with schizophrenia must start to make our voice heard; I believe it is time to mobilise service users, their families and the many supporting professionals.

I believe it is time to call for a major re-examination of how we treat and care for people with schizophrenia and indeed all those with severe and long-term mental illness. We need to ensure the government give the extremists the boot.
I believe Rethink needs to take direct action to get the government, and
indeed the public, to sit up and take note. One such action could be a ‘Jarrow’ type march; but not just any old march, a series of marches starting in all corners of England, and meeting up at Hyde Park. Rethink could mobilise its 150 support groups and 400 projects – each one marching to the next group and passing on a petition. The petition could spell out what we believe needs to happen, and above all make it abundantly clear that we have had enough of schizophrenia being the neglected illness.

Terry Hammond [Deputy Editor] Email: [email protected]
 
R

ramboghettouk

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london
I have no particular wish to go to a day centre, maybe i'm one of those extremists though i agree with some of whats said

Terry Hammond i said to my mother he doesn't beleive in people been housed in flats surrounded by drug dealers she said she'd met him and he must be in his early 60s
 
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