How far have we really come from the nightmare of ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’?

Musings on prone (face-down) restraint in inpatient mental health care in England 

By Dina Poursanidou

7 July 2018

one flew over

The image above depicts a scene from ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’. In this image*, McMurphy is being subjected to prone (face-down) physical restraint. Throughout the film, face-down physical restraint is normally used on McMurphy to control and punish him after he has broken a rule of the regime.

Yesterday (Friday 6th July 2018) Seni’s Law was debated at Third Reading (the final opportunity for the Commons or the Lords to decide whether to pass or reject a Bill in its entirety) at the House of Commons in London. Seni’s Law is Steve Reed’s (MP) bill calling for the end of the use of inappropriate force against people using mental health services. The bill is named after Seni Lewis who died in Bethlem Royal Hospital in London back in 2010 after he was restrained face-down for longer than 30 minutes by 11 police officers until he stopped breathing.

The following account is from ‘a nursing daily record’ (dated 7 February 2009) that comes from my own Care Notes covering the period 28 January-24 April 2009; during that time I was detained under the Mental Health Act 1983/2007 in an acute inpatient psychiatric ward in Manchester. I requested my Care Notes from the time of my sectioning in 2011 and I read them with the help of an NHS clinical psychologist. The highlighting and underlining on the scanned record are mine, and I am referred to in it as ‘Konstantina’ (my full name):

dina notes entry

According to this nursing record, I was restrained for approximately 20 minutes. Although I do not remember much from the first month of my detention (February 2009), I do remember the restraint described in the record quite vividly. I remember being held face-down on my bed by 4 or 5 members of staff…I remember shouting (screaming?) ‘Let go!’ over and over again…Long after I was discharged from the ward, my boyfriend at the time mentioned to me that a couple of the other patients on the ward had told him ‘It took 6 people to hold Dina down the other day…she was fighting for her life…’.

Sadly, I was restrained face-down and for about 20 minutes that day to be given intra-muscular medication merely because I was ‘very agitated’, ‘resistive’ (i.e. not conforming to staff’s orders to stay in my room and constantly knocking on the nurses’ office door to tell staff over and over again that I wanted to go home), and desperate to leave the ward-an environment that I experienced as acutely unsafe and far from caring and therapeutic. Unnecessary (in my view) use of prolonged (and hence rather dangerous) prone (face-down) physical restraint as a means of controlling acute agitation and distress, as well as possibly punishing resistance/recalcitrance in my case…   

One wonders how far had inpatient mental health services in England really come from the nightmare of ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ back in 2009/2010, i.e. 35 years since the film was released (the film came out in 1975) and 50 years (half a century) since the book upon which the film was based was written (the book was written in the early 1960s)?

In 2015, a joint publication by Mind and NSUN (National Survivor User Network) UK (Restraint in mental health services: What the guidance says) outlined key points from national guidance on restraint in inpatient mental health care – issued, among others, by the Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission – as follows:

‘Physical restraint and other restrictive interventions must only be used as a last resort when there is a real possibility of harm if no action is taken. The action must be proportionate to the risk of harm and its seriousness, and the least restrictive thing staff can do. It must be imposed for no longer than is absolutely necessary. It must never be used to punish, hurt or humiliate’.

‘Physical (manual) restraint

Staff should avoid, if at all possible, holding you down on the floor or any other surface. Most importantly, you must not be held in any way that makes it hard for you to see, hear, speak or breathe, or that affects your blood circulation. This means that the person holding you shouldn’t press on your rib cage, neck or abdomen, or cover your eyes, ears, nose or mouth. You should be held for as short a time as possible; NICE says this should not usually be for more than 10 minutes. But any restraint must always be ended as soon as possible. One of the staff members involved in the restraint should keep communicating with you from before the restraint and during it, continually trying to de-escalate the situation’ (p.18)

In a similar vein, the NICE Guideline entitled ‘Violence and aggression: short-term management in mental health, health and community settings’, issued in May 2015, instructed:

‘When using manual restraint, avoid taking the service user to the floor, but if this becomes necessary: use the supine (face up) position if possible or if the prone (face-down) position is necessary, use it for as short a time as possible’ (p.216)


In 2015-16, 18.5 % of recorded incidents of restraints in England were face-down (Alison Holt & Callum May, ‘Face-down restraint continuing in NHS mental health wards’, 21 September 2016). Characteristically, in 2016, in one of London’s largest Mental Health Trusts, the reporting of prone (face-down) restraint was above the national average and within the upper range of reported incidents nationally.

An article in the Guardian on 10th June 2018 pointed to an ‘alarming’ rise in patient injuries due to restraint at mental health units in England:

‘A total of 3,652 patients suffered an injury through being restrained during 2016-17 – the highest number ever – according to data from 48 of England’s 56 mental health trusts. The figures raise serious questions about the effectiveness of the government’s drive to reduce use of techniques which critics say can be traumatic for patients and even endanger their lives’. “Whilst this dramatic increase may be partly explained by improved reporting, the scale of injuries is horrifying. This is also, no doubt, in part due to the stress that many trusts are under, with bed occupancy close to 100% and often relying on agency staff,” said Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb’.

(Denis Campbell, ‘Figures reveal ‘alarming’ rise in injuries at mental health units’, 10 June 2018).

So, the question remains – how far have inpatient mental health services in England really come from the nightmare of ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’?

And how meaningful is it to talk about ‘recovery-focused inpatient mental health care’ in this country when the violent practice of face-down physical restraint is still being used on mental health wards – a practice that is acutely disempowering and even life-threatening for service users on these wards, serving to totally quash the service users’ sense of control, agency and self-worth?

Yesterday (6th July) MPs at the House of Commons in London voted in favour of Steve Reed’s Bill (Seni’s Law) to restrict use of force against people using mental health services. The Bill will now pass to the House of Lords for further scrutiny before it becomes law (Benjamin Kentish, ‘MPs approve ‘Seni’s law’ to restrict use of force against mental health patients’, 6 July 2018).

One hopes that the passing of Steve Reed’s Bill represents a chance to end the use of face-down physical restraint on mental health wards…a chance to make inpatient mental health services in this country safer….

*The image was taken from and is an image made available for public use


Asylum Magazine 23.3 – Autumn 2016

There have been a fair number of themed editions of the magazine during the last couple of years. This time, ranging from the polemic to the poetic, the serious to the more humorous, the contents reflect a disparate variety of concerns to some of our readers, and these items have been waiting to see the light of day. Diana Rose’s article (page 5) particularly addresses our publishing policy, and as we say in reply, we agree that there probably is a lack of user/survivor research-based contributions, and we certainly do welcome those kinds of articles. All the same, we invite material from any quarter or point of view, so if you feel you have something to say – let us know!

23.3 cover


News from Soteria Bradford
Survivor Research (or not) in Asylum    Diana Rose and A Response from the Editors
Inside Out Revolution    Yasmin Setarrah
My Year of Suicide    Mark Peterson                             
Mental Disorder is More Than a Chemical Imbalance  Kate Kennedy
Everything is a Symptom & a Symptom is Everything Sonia Soans
Unkindest Cuts    Stephanie Taylor-King, Sarah Carr & Taz Edwards-White *SAMPLE ARTICLE*
Double Bind    Sean Burn
Obsessive Posting Disorder    Declan Flynn
One Flew Over the Dragon’s Den    No_Label_Dave
‘Stigma’ and Mental Illness    Harold A Maio 
The Unrecovery Star    Recovery in the Bin
Artwork    Alex Dunedin
Literature Portraying Mental Illness   Jhilmil Breckenridge 
Photographs    Scott Michael 
Driving Somewhere Beautiful    Mike Snelle 
News and Findings

Details of some contributors
Mark Peterson, PhD, is a retired school administrator and lives in Orem, Utah.Sonia Soans trained as a psychologist and now, through research, examines issues such as gender, nationalism and media in the production of mental illness and violence.Stephanie Taylor-King, National Survivor User Network (NSUN)Sarah Carr, Middlesex University, London

Taz Edwards-White, METRO Centre, London

Jhilmil Breckenridge is a writer, poet and activist who was incarcerated twice in India. She can be contacted on [email protected]

Sean Burn is a writer/performer/outsider artist with active involvement in disability arts. Much of Sean’s creative work ‘reclaims the languages of lunacy’ based on his own long-term experience as a psychiatric survivor. He is part of Mad Studies North-East.

Older events


Tavistock centre: The Future of Work in the Therapeutic Sector

When: Thursday 16 November 2017 (6pm – 8pm)

Venue: 5th floor Lecture Theatre, The Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, London, NW3 5BA

Fee: Free

Speaker: Elizabeth Cotton

Chair: Julian Lousada

Elizabeth Cotton is a writer and educator in the field of mental health at work. Previously she was head of education for the Miners’ International and is now a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University specialising in employment relations and mental health at work.Elizabeth is the founder of Surviving work an intervention and critical resource for working people on how to do it. Her new book Surviving Work in Healthcare (published by Routledge) offers a critique of healthcare management and offers an alternative model of solidarity of work. It has been nominated for the Chartered Management Institute’s book of the year.

Julian Lousada is a psychoanalyst, organisational consultant and a founding partner of Peoplein-systems. He is a former clinical director of the adult department at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust. He wa previously chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council.

This seminar will present the results of the 2016 Surviving Work Survey, which looked at the future of work in the therapeutic sector. Over 1500 people working in mental health from across the UK answered straightforward questions about their working conditions, incomes, concerns and experiences. The results of the survey will be launched (website live from 13 November 2017).

Elizabeth will comment on the emerging sectoral trends: the growth of self-employment and un-waged work, performance management and the tyranny of targets,and the role of the therapeutic training and professional bodies in defending quality services The answers open up a debate about how can frontline workers prepare for the future of work in the current crisis?

For more information and tickets visit:

“A Disorder for Everyone!” – Exploring the culture of psychiatric diagnosis, creating change. 8 December 2017, Manchester

This day is for anyone who is interested in and concerned about the current debates in ‘mental health.’ It provides a space to explore the critical questions of the day around the biomedical model and the narrative of ‘diagnosis and disorder!’

Attendees from past AD4E events have included people who identify as the following :-

people with lived experience of emotional distress, supporters of people with lived experience, survivors, psychologists, journalists, activists, counsellors, service users, service refusers, psychotherapists, mental health support professionals, psychiatrists, managers and individuals with a general personal interest.

The event features not just professionals but people from a diverse range of backgrounds who have an essential contribution to make to the debate.

Lucy Johnstone presents the current debates and controversies about psychiatric diagnosis. It is increasingly acknowledged, even within the mental health establishment, that categories like ‘schizophrenia’, ‘bipolar disorder’ and ‘personality disorder’ lack validity. The assumption that distress is best understood as disease can have very serious consequences for the individual, their identity, and their path to recovery. Lucy will present alternatives to diagnosis which can help people to make sense of experiences of distress, however extreme, and which are based on working together to explore personal meaning.

Jacqui Dillon’s talk ‘Rasing our Voices’ will also take place in the morning session. (details to follow)

Gary Sidley, Lucy Johnstone and Jacqui Dillon will all be offering workshops in the afternoon.

Find out more 

Asylum Conference: Action and Reaction

This one day conference will be held at the University of Manchester on Wednesday 28 June 2017.  It will be an all-day, low-cost conference (to cover refreshments on the day), with a lower rate for subscribers to Asylum Magazine.


Making Real Change Happen

ISPS Conference in Liverpool, 30 August – 3 September 2017

Interested in Psychosis?  Interested in real change for the better?   The ISPS 2017 conference in Liverpool, UK is for you, whatever your discipline and if you are a service use or carer.   The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis conferences have an outstanding reputation for vibrancy, conviviality, breadth of presentations and social events.

Submissions:   Submit a paper, poster, symposium or workshop before December 1st.  Please go to

Registration:   We anticipate a full house, so why not make an early bird registration. Please go to

Please pass this message on further to your friends and colleagues.  See you in Liverpool.

Dangerous Liaisons: The Myth of Mental Illness and Risk

A public lecture by Professor Patrick Callaghan.  Monday 10 October, 2016. 6pm to 9pm, Nottingham.

The myth of the mentally ill as dangerous and menacing persists despite evidence to the contrary. Risk assessment is pervasive in mental health practice. This continuing focus on risk, while well intentioned as it is in reducing harm and increasing people’s safety, has a stigmatising, and, in some cases, traumatic effect on people
using mental health services; it reinforces the myth that people who are mentally unwell are an inevitable risk to society and that through risk assessment we can minimise or eliminate this threat.  Prof Callaghan will argue that it is the often unquestioned acceptance of the effectiveness of risk assessment and the unconscious bias that emerges from this narrative that poses the biggest risk. People living with mental health issues are frequently marginalised and often live in communities associated with recurrent harm and crime and that promote stigma. By classifying individuals as risky we are giving the stamp of scientific approval to  society’s prejudices and fear.

‘Action and Reaction’. 

The second Mad Studies stream

Lancaster Disability Studies conference: 6th-8th September, 2016

This conference brings together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and activists from around the world, to share and debate research, ideas and developments in disability studies.  2016 will see the second Mad Studies stream.

Further details

Madness: 8th Global Meeting

The Making Sense Of: Madness Project

Sunday 10th July – Tuesday 12th July 2016
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:

Madness: What is it? Why does it exist? Where and when does it happen? How does it happen, and to whom? Like the relation between otherness and identity, madness might have always been used to define its opposite, or defined by what it is not. Madness and its absence may even be intrinsically linked to everything we do and do not, to all we aspire and escape from; it could be part of our origins and fate. But how can it be identified, described, studied and/or treated? We propose to take an interdisciplinary approach, by which we mean one that allows us to develop dialogues about the subject from different points of view, from and between different disciplines and experiences. This will partly allow us to answer the questions above, in direct relation to the specific contexts in which madness is observed, studied and/or experienced and, it is desirable, it might also allow us all to understand that, just by being humans, none of us is actually immune to it.

This international, inter-disciplinary conference seeks to explore issues of madness across historical periods and within cultural, political and social contexts. We are interested as well in exploring the place of madness in persons and interpersonal relationships and across a range of critical perspectives. Seeking to encourage innovative inter, multi and post disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines, professions and vocations which struggle to understand the place of madness in the constitution of persons, relationships and the complex interlacing of self and other. In the seven previous conferences we had the participation of people who have experienced forms of madness in their personal lives, and their presentations have always been not only welcome, but also moving and illuminating for all. Such contributions based on the actual experience of madness from within have been an essential part of our conferences and this year we encourage again the submission of abstracts based on first-hand experience. Our conferences have also been increasingly enriched by the participation of artists and performers, introducing more fluid and malleable spheres and scenes within our interactions. This year we also wish to encourage and expand this by inviting delegates to submit proposals for exhibitions, performances and interventions.

Forthcoming Hearing Voices and Paranoia Training

The Maastricht Interview: social and biographical approaches to voice hearing and thoughts, beliefs and paranoia

Understanding Voices, Visions and Paranoia

Two days skills workshop in Bristol, 11-12 April 2016

Making Sense of Voices

Skills based workshops in Bristol, 10, 11, 12 May 2016


Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too


Artist Sanchita Islam reads from her book “Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too” on 5th Feb, Brick Lane Book Shop, 166 Brick Lane from 7pm onwards.

“‘Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too’ takes the reader on the artist Q S Lam’s journey through the labyrinthine passages of psychosis describing her strategies and struggles to recover from the impact of the illness on everyday life, drawing on her personal experience, using art, not medication, to keep well.”

To secure a place booking is recommended


Past Events


PCCS Conference 2015

PCCS Conference 2015


17th November 2015, 10.00 am – 4.45 pm
Trent Vineyard Conference Centre, Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham, NG7 2PXs at

Unwaged places at £25.00 are now fully booked. Please email [email protected] to go on the waiting list. We will release further places if at all possible.

The case for demedicalising mental health services is well rehearsed. The research has been done, the conferences have been held and the intellectual argument all but won. Yet on a day-to-day basis, services continue to operate within the medicalised status quo. One of the aims of this conference will be to look at how we can implement realistic, practical changes in our mental health practice, education and lives, in order to continue the progression from rhetoric to reality.

For mental health service users / survivors, carers, professionals, students and everyone interested in critical debate in mental health care.

Keynote speakers:

Peter Beresford, OBE, Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Centre for Citizen Participation at Brunel University; Chair of Shaping Our Lives, the national independent service user-controlled organisation and network. From Mental Health to Mad Studies: making involvement real. The psychiatric system has shown an almost infinite capacity to resist change. This presentation will explore the contribution ‘mad studies’ can make to breaking this log jam, as well as highlighting a set of priorities for action to achieve change.

Lucy Johnstone, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, author, lecturer, trainer and speaker. Challenging, compromising or colluding? Some thoughts on trying to bring about change in mental health systems. Lucy Johnstone will describe and discuss the obstacles to change within psychiatry, along with a range of strategies and projects which, she believes, have the potential to achieve a genuine and much-needed paradigm shift over the coming years. She will argue that we already have effective alternatives to medical model understandings of distress, although determination, clear thinking and collaborative action are needed to ensure they are fully implemented.

Pete Sanders is a director at PCCS Books. He has worked as a counsellor, psychotherapist ,clinical supervisor, lecturer and trainer, and is PCCS Books’ best-selling author. If therapy could be part of positive action for change, what sort of therapy would it be? Therapy has been criticised as being a collection of branded, top-down, expert-led, bourgeois prescriptions for people in distress or those living different lives. Even when the ‘client’ is put at the centre and directs the therapy themselves, it has been caricatured as a sort of monetised kindness. Could any therapy be useful and empowering? This presentation is an attempt to unpick the problem and suggest ways forward.

Sami Timimi is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Director of Medical Education for the National Health Service in Lincolnshire, and a Visiting Professor of Child Psychiatry and Mental Health Improvement at the University of Lincoln. Beyond diagnosis: developing an outcome orientated approach. This presentation will address the evidence that highlights why using psychiatric diagnosis to understand mental distress and to organise mental health services is not a supportable approach to maximising the likelihood of improving the mental well-being of patientsIt will then outline the ‘outcome orientated’ approach as an existing, evidence-based alternative.

The venue and travel:

Trent Vineyard Conferencing is a modern and conveniently located venue on the edge of Nottingham city centre and is easily accessible by road, rail and air.

  • By car:  easily accessible from the M1 and AI. 280 free and secure onsite parking spaces.
  • By train:  trams run regularly from near the train station to the conference centre. A taxi ride should cost around £5.00 and walking would take about 25 minutes.
  • By plane: a 30 minute drive from East Midlands airport. The Skylink bus service connects directly from the airport.

The venue has full wheelchair access and a hearing loop.

Click here for more venue information and travel advice

Asylum Magazine Meeting, 15th May 2014

Time: 6:00-8:00pm

Venue Room G33, Business School, MMU All Saints Campus




British Sociological Association

Sociology of Mental Health Study Group symposium

Social Movements and Sociological Knowledge on Mental Health:

Where are we now?

Friday 13th June 10 a.m. – 5 pm

University of Wolverhampton, City campus

The British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Mental Health Study Group is 10 years old

this year. Its programme of work has included exploration of links between academic sociology

and social movements in mental health and between the women’s and mental health sectors.

This symposium seeks to build on this programme to explore the contributions of a range of

social movements to sociological knowledge on mental health and the relationships between

these movements. The event will provide a space for critical reflection and discussion on:

i) the ways in which the psychiatric survivor movement, the disabled people’s (disability)

movement, the trade union movement and the women’s (feminist) movement and their

social histories have shaped sociological knowledge on mental health;

ii) overlaps, links, commonalities and synergies, as well as differences, points of departure

and tensions between these movements; and

iii) the possibilities or otherwise for alliances between these social movements and between

the movements and academia in sociological knowledge construction and social action for

the future concerning mental health.

The event will offer space for multi-disciplinary debate and discussion of the interface between

disciplinary/study/practice areas concerned with social perspectives on mental health (e.g.

Medical Sociology, Education, Disability Studies, Women’s Studies, Critical Psychology, Social

Psychiatry; Nursing, Social Work, Community Development) and provide the opportunity for

coalescing sociological knowledge on mental health from a range of study and practice areas.

Speakers: Professor Diana Rose, Institute of Psychiatry; Dr Janet Wallcraft, University of

Wolverhampton; Dr Sarah Carr, Sarah Carr and Associates Ltd, Universities of Birmingham and

York and trustee for the National Survivor User Network (NSUN); Matthew Danaher, Unison; Dr

Mick McKweon, School of Health, University of Central Lancashire; Professor Simone Fullager,

Department of Education, University of Bath; Dr Patsy Staddon, Women’s Independent Alcohol

Support and University of Plymouth; Dr Karen Newbigging, Institute of Applied Social Sciences,

University of Birmingham; Dr Lydia Lewis, Institute of Education, University of Wolverhampton;

Dr Helen Spandler, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire.

Cost: £20 for BSA members; £25 for non-members (to include refreshments and lunch). We

may be able to offer some funded places (to cover registration fee and travel) for third sector,

service user, carer and student delegates (dependent on the outcome of a funding application;

please e-mail or call Dina at the address and telephone number below to register your interest

in receiving one of these).

To register: (by 4th

Enquiries: Dina Poursanidou at [email protected] or 07792 358092;

Lydia Lewis at [email protected] or 01902 323251

Organisers: Dina Poursanidou, University of Manchester; Lydia Lewis, University of Wolverhampton;

Patsy Staddon, Women’s Independent Alcohol Support and University of Plymouth; and Angela Cotton,

University of Salford.

BSA Sociology of Mental Health Study Group web site:






The latest edition (2013) of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) V has once again intensified the debate about the value of psychiatric diagnoses in understanding and responding to a wide range of human experiences of emotional distress. This conference, now in its 6th responses beyond psychiatric diagnoses.

Call for Oral Presentations/Workshops (45 minutes’ duration): Please submit an abstract (in Word – 250 words max) related to the conference theme and outlining the aims of and intentions by 5 September 2014. Please also submit a brief bio (in Word – 150 words max). Please email abstract and bio to [email protected] Inquiries to [email protected] or [email protected] Registration details will be circulated in early September 2014.

The Conference organisers are Harry Gijbels, Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, and
Lydia Sapouna, School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Ireland.


6th World Hearing Voices Congress, Odysseying with the Sirens: Struggling towards recovery in times of crisis:


October 16th, 2013, PCCS Books Anniversary Conference

Conference in Celebration of 20 Years of PCCS Books

Proceeds to the Soteria Network UK

October 16th 2013, 10.00am  – 4.30pm
Clarendon Suites, Birmingham.


Richard Bentall, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool
The myth that schizpohrenia is a genetic disease

Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling, University of Strathclyde
Are the facts friendly? Person-centred therapy in an era of ‘evidence-based’ practice

Jacqui Dillon, Chair of the Hearing Voices Network, England
The history and work of the Hearing Voices Network – the personal is still political

Stephen Joseph, Professor of Psychology, Health and Social Care, University of Nottingham
The positive psychology of the person-centred approach

Joanna Moncrieff, Senior Lecturer, University College London, consultant psychiatrist
Mother’s little helper: The politics of consumerism and psychoative drug use

Clare Shaw, Trainer, Consultant, activist and poet. I do not believe in silence: How words can change the world

Lisbeth Sommerbeck, clinical psychologist, accredited specialist in psychotherapy
Danish Psychological Association
Rebutting criticisms of applying person-centred therapy with clients diagnosed with psychosis

PCCS Books is celebrating 20 years of independent publishing this year with a one-day conference bringing together experts in their fields who share the desire for honest, democratic, equal and fully informed care for people in distress. The speakers represent the dominant themes in PCCS Books’ lists: person-centred psychology, critical psychology and psychiatry, and service-user perspectives.

Of interest to service users, carers, professionals, academics, students and everyone interested in critical debate on mental health care.

Fees (including lunch and refreshments):

Earlybird: £65.00 before 30th August; £75.00 31st August – 14th October; Service-users:£20.00. Please note there will be an additional £10.00 administrative charge if you want your organisation to be invoiced for your place.


Ruminations on Madness, November 2013

November 2013: Ruminations on Madness, Trauma Group, Manchester Metropolitan University
Free and open event. After the films we go to Sandbar for a discussion. Copies of Asylum magazine on sale.

More details on Ruminations on Madness

and here at:


The Social Causes of Psychosis: From Heresy to Certainty / Monday 18th November 6:30 – 8:30pm/Liverpool)

An event for professionals who work with people with psychosis, and to those with personal
experience of psychosis and their families and friends.

Monday 18th November 6:30 – 8:30pm
@ Liverpool Quaker Meeting House, 22 School Lane,  Liverpool L1 3BT
Speakers: Professor John Read, Derry Hunter and Neil Caton

More details: ISPS UK Liverpool Event – November 2013


INTAR Conference 2014

INTAR Conference, Liverpool 2014: Call for Contributions

The INTAR 2014 Conference, which will be held in the University of Liverpool on 25th – 27th June 2014, is calling for ideas for contributions.  The attached document gives full details of what we are looking for, and how to apply to be involved.

The key conference themes are:

  • ·         Social injustice and mental health
  • ·         Securing human rights in psychiatric care
  • ·         Cultural diversity and mental health
  • ·         Creating and developing healing communities
  • ·         Arts and madness

Confirmed plenary speakers include:

  • ·         Prof Isaac Prilleltensky (University of Miami) Mental Health as Social Justice
  • ·         Prof Kate Pickett (University of York) Inequality and Mental Health
  • ·         Marianne Schulze (Human Rights Consultant, Vienna) Human Rights & Mental Health
  • ·         Bhagarvi Davar (Survivor activist, academic India) Gender, Culture & Mental Health
  • ·         Rameri Moukam (Birmingham) Pattigift and Black People’s Recovery
  • ·         William Sax (University of Heidelberg) Recovery as Healing and Ritual
  • ·         Jacqui Dillon (Hearing Voices Network UK) Recovery as Social Action
  • ·         Alison Gilchrist (Independent Community Development Consultant) Community Development  and Mental Health
  • ·         Prof Brendan Stone (University of Sheffield) Recovery and Community Narratives

How to be involved

INTAR prides itself on being inclusive and engaged. We want to hear your ideas for presentations, workshops and performances that relate to the above key themes. We are particularly keen to hear from mental health service survivors, service users and carers. We also welcome contributions from students who are interested in critical perspectives of mainstream approaches to mental health care.

We are particularly keen that people who have never before presented at a conference can participate fully in the proceedings. We hope to encourage and facilitate as many people as possible to be involved in debates, questions and activities. We have therefore organised the conference so that there are different ways for people to contribute:

WORKSHOPS – these sessions will maximise audience participation. Alternatively, they may focus upon key problems, opportunities or challenges relating to the key themes of the event, and attempt to draw out audience contributions to addressing these issues. These sessions will be 60 minutes in length.

SHOWCASES – sessions that present the work of specific service user and carer involvement initiatives within community groups and organisations, health and social care practice, and Higher Education Institutions, health and social care practice and the voluntary sector. The emphasis will be on the practice and experience of user and carer involvement its impact and outcomes. These sessions will be of 60 minutes duration and might involve a number of short stories that offer the experiences of project participants from various perspectives (e.g. users and /or survivors, carers, project workers, researchers, students). Group discussion will be encouraged to explore, with presenters, possible solutions to key problems identified or discussion of strategy. The emphasis will be upon sharing experiences, celebrating innovation and good practice, and learning from each other.

PAPERS – these sessions will typically involve short presentations (20 minutes) with a short time for questions afterwards. These might involve reflections on practice, research studies or biographical accounts. There may also be theoretical papers which present critical thinking in relation to key conference themes.

PERFORMANCES – these sessions will be performances of different forms of creative arts relevant to the conference themes. For example, they might involve short pieces of drama or dance, readings of poetry or prose, music performances, or even stand-up comedy. These will be of 30 minutes duration.

EXHIBITIONS AND STALLS – There will also be opportunities for static exhibitions of artwork or creative writing, video instillations etc.  There will be space for a number of stalls for voluntary and community groups, healing communities, co-operatives and social enterprises, and others who are working towards socially and ethically derived practices in relation to emotional distress.

We aim to make the whole conference as interactive as possible and accessible to all participants. Participants are encouraged to present their work and facilitate sessions in plain language.

Please submit your idea for any of the above (this should be no more than 250 words, with reference to which of the key themes your contribution will fit) by email to: [email protected]org

Or by post to:

The Liverpool Mental Health Consortium, 151 Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2AH

The deadline for this is:  December 31st 2013

All ideas for contributions will be reviewed by the conference committee, who will aim to respond within 3 weeks of the deadline.

Please see here for more information about INTAR.

We look forward to hearing from you!

With best wishes

Jackie Patiniotis

INTAR Conference Administrator


August 6th, 2013, Preston Public Debate
The 2nd Preston Public Debate on ‘mental health’ issues, in association with Asylum Magazine, will be held at the Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) in Preston, within their Conference Suite at the end of Guild Hall Arcade in the city centre, from 6pm-8pm on Tuesday August 6th 2013. Timing for the start and finish of the event will be very strict as security require the venue to be vacated on time: any last minute attempts at announcements, especially unrelated to the event, will not be welcomed. The venue costs 25pound to hire, so any voluntary contributions on the night will be very appreciated, but the event itself is free. The evening will be hosted by William Park, a member of the Asylum Collective, who will give a summary of previous points raised and some indications of possible ways forward, in order to capture one of the main motivations for the debates: to have an ongoing public dialogue which, in time, may slowly alter stigma and negative perceptions around ‘mental health’ issues.

The theme of this 2nd event will be ‘alternative spirituality’ and linking this to improved well-being. Lorna Smithers, who has a blog will talk on the subject of Paganism. Tamasin Knight, a member of the Asylum Collective, will draw on ideas from her publication ‘Beyond Belief’. Most of the second hour will be devoted to a discussion around the subjects presented, as well as a general ongoing discussion on mental health. Refreshments will be available. Contact William Park on william.park[at] for any enquiries.

July 23, 2013, Soteria Meeting, Manchester. Meet at 7pm at Falafel on Wilmslow Road.

St Dymphna’s Seminar Day.  See Website for more information:

Soteria Meeting in Manchester

We are meeting again to discuss setting up the Soteria house in Manchester.

We are meeting on 28th January 2013 at Falafel 26 Wilmslow Road, M14 5TQ Manchester at 6.00 pm. Do come along and invite your friends too.

We will be discussing ideas about funding, approaching groups and about housing. If you can’t make it do send us your ideas and how we can work towards setting up a Soteria house. If you have articles that support the Sotieria model of treatment do send them in too.


ASYLUM fundraiser on the 23rd December, 2012.
Pumpkin Records Collective Presents A Benefit For ASYLUM MAGAZINE.

Wahl bar in Fallowfield, Manchester, 18:00-23:00


Easily the best band in the world! 2 of the hardest working people around, toured Europe up and down and put on a show that blows everyone else to pieces! And Lonely Planets ‘Europe On A Shoe String’ needs to be re-edited and base it around 2SM….

These have been a favourite band of ours for many moons…. After feeling gutted from their split in 2004, i heard rumours of a reform in 2012, and after watching them live, realised they are just as good as they were. We are recording their new album for a release on Pumpkin fairly soon, and it’s sounds amazing, well worth checking out if you have never heard of them.

Another band who are getting a new release out on Pumpkin imminently. Jake has been a close friends of ours for many years, so we would help him out with gigs anytime, and luckily for him he’s in the best band to come out of New Mills since Temporal Distortion………. Oh wait, he was in them too, i mean Blitz then….. hang on……..

Pop punk for people with dreadlocks. After many years of talks, Holiday have finally got their asses into gear and are ready to make you feel unhappy, happy, and hopefully a little bit fonder of pop punk (yes we know it’s not cool to like it…….)

Asylum Magazine at the Manchester and Salford Anarchist Bookfair
Asylum Magazine hosts a stall at the Anarchist Bookfair for the second year running. Stop by, say hi and pick up a copy of Asylum magazine.
Saturday, December 1st, 2012
Manchester and Salford Anarchist Bookfair

Asylum London Group Meeting
The next meeting will be at the University of East London on Monday 3 December. At 5.30pm there will be a short presentation about the magazine by Dave, followed by a meeting from 6.00pm-7.00pm. Email [email protected] for details.

Public Debate: Do we care about our Mental Health and the Mental Health of others?
Free Event, November 27th, 2012, 6-8pm, Preston Council for Voluntary Service Unit 23-27, Guild Hall Arcade, Lancaster Road, Preston.
With Speakers from Asylum Magazine
All welcome!
Download Poster
Listen to an interview about this event on Preston FM with Asylum Collective’s illiam Park

Asylum market stall at the FCDL AGM and Conference
“Celebrating and Reclaiming Community Development Learning and Practice: in an age of ‘austerity for some’ and increasing inequality for all”
Wednesday 21 & Thursday 22 November 2012, Derbyshire DE55 1AU

ASYLUM Magazine Special Issue launch: Anti-Capitalism and Mental Health.
Wednesday 3rd October, 2012, 6pm Sandbar, Manchester (M1 7HL).
Join us on Wednesday 3rd October to celebrate the launch of this special issue of ASYLUM. The editors will be joined by contributors as well as members of the ASYLUM team to talk about the issue and answer questions. Come along to meet other people working in the area and have a drink and some food. 10% off food and drink at the bar. Acoustic music from 9:30pm. Free entry. All welcome!  See you there!

Sandbar Location:

View Larger Map

reVision Launch, 20th September 2012, Liverpool

Invitation to the Launch of reVision (formerly The Joint Forum)
We are a coalition of radical activists who believe in the social model of mental health.
We are seeking to be a voice for change by promoting and exploring knowledge and
understandings of the social, economic and political causes of mental distress, and by
proposing socially derived alternatives to medicalised approaches.
Our vision is a society in which the social causes of mental distress are understood and
treated with socially based solutions that improve individual lives and bring about wider
social change.
We are launching our organisation on Thursday 20th on September 2012
At Liverpool John Moores University, Room 5.04, Avril Robarts, 79 Tithebarn Street,
Liverpool, L2 2ER from 1.00 to 4.00pm
We will be welcoming new members to the organisation at the launch, and are looking for
people who seek radical alternatives to psychiatry and who have a critical, political
understanding of the social causes of mental distress.
Our keynote speakers will be:

  • Helen Spandler, member of Asylum and contributer to Critical Psychiatry
  • Malcolm Kinney, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Social Work: LJMU
  • Phil O’Hare, Senior Lecturer: School of Social Work: UCLAN
  • Naphtali Titus Chondol, mental health activist
  • Jackie Patiniotis, freelance researcher with a particular interest in women’s mental health and working to end violence against women and girls

Please email [email protected] to confirm your attendance

Bridge Beyond Belief – an invitation

At the Bridge Collective and the Spacex Gallery, Exeter, Friday 5th October 2012
10am to 4pm

Free and open to all. Please send your email address to [email protected] to receive further information when available.

The Bridge Collective is a community owned company in Exeter whose members are creating a democratic community where people who have experiences, beliefs, and feelings that have sometimes been labelled as mental illness are welcomed and can talk about these experiences freely, safely and without judgement; a place to participate in friendship, support, learning, teaching, discussion, being active, and making a valid contribution both within the collective and the wider community. Find out more at

A strong element in the Bridge is creative activity, including Underground Sound (music), the Women’s Art Group, and the Greenwood Project (environmental arts and crafts and outdoor living).

The Bridge was closely associated with the publication of the first edition of Tamasin Knight’s book “Beyond Belief” now available free in an expanded e-book edition from Peter Lehmann ( Tamasin’s book explores ways of helping people who have unusual beliefs. These are beliefs that may be called delusions, obsessions, or another kind of psychopathology. Psychiatric treatment attempts to remove these beliefs by medication and other methods. The new approach described in Beyond Belief is different. It is about accepting the individual’s own reality and assisting them to cope and live with their beliefs. Tamasin facilitated the first “Better Believe It” group at the Joan of Arc project and this work has been an important influence in the development of the Bridge.

The Bridge Collective and the Beyond Belief Network will be putting on an event to tell people more about the book, the collective, and the stories behind them this Autumn. It will be free and open to all. It will include:

  •  A chance to meet Tamasin Knight and a presentation about “Beyond Belief”
  •  A chance to visit the Bridge Collective in action, hosted by Underground Sound
  •  Displays of creative work done at the Bridge
  •  Interactive activities including “Songs that saved our lives” and a chance to do some green woodworking.
  •  A participatory workshop in which we will share what we’ve learnt from five years of building our own community company and offer some tools for you to think about how you could develop your own project.

The Bridge Collective
E-mail: [email protected]

London Asylum Group

The inaugural meeting of the London Asylum Group is at: 6.30-7.30pm Thursday 18 October, 2012  at Studio 2 (first floor), Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 6HG ( Oxford House is 5-10 mins walk from Bethnal Green tube.

Following the lead of other local groups like the one in Manchester, the aim of the group is to support the work of the Asylum: The magazine for democratic psychiatry.

Asylum needs volunteers to help raise the magazine’s profile: to increase subscriptions (so that it can continue to grow) and to let people know it is a place for them to send and read interesting articles, poems and artwork.

The main item on the agenda will be staffing a stall  at the London Anarchist Bookfair ( which runs from 10am-7pm on Saturday 27 October and is held at Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS. If you can’t attend the meeting on 18 October but would like to help staff the stall on 27 October do get in touch.

The bookfair is the kind of place where we might interest new subscribers. At the meeting on 18/10 we can also spend some time thinking about other events where we might sell the magazine.

Email us at [email protected] if you can’t make this meeting but would like to join the London Asylum group.

Asylum @ the Festival of Public Health
Tamasin Knight (of the Editorial Collective) and Janice Hartley gave a talk about Asylum at the Festival of Public Health in Manchester on July 2nd 2012.  Asylum had a stall there too, where delegates could drop by and check out the magazine.

Asylum North West Meeting, 6:00-8:00pm, 28th March 2012
The next meeting of Asylum North West is at 6.00-8.00pm on Wednesday 28th March in Room 0.07 of John Dalton Building of MMU, on Oxford Road opposite where the BBC used to be. Everyone is welcome…bring a friend! We can have a chat about the new issue, and perhaps about organising a more open public meeting / event with speakers. We’ll try and bring some copies of the new issue to buy as well.

SWAN Conference in Liverpool, March 2012
Asylum will be attending the SWAN conference in Liverpool in March 2012. Come and visit our stall or attend an Asylum talk at Liverpool Hope University, 30-31 March, 2012.

Asylum will be at Tent City University, Occupy London, 29th January 2012
January 29th, 2012 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Location: Tent City Uni
Description: Speakers China Mills and colleagues will start the discussion
China Mills is involved with Asylum magazine for democratic psychiatry based in Manchester ( and will talk about the magazine and her work. She says: “I’m interested in the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry in understanding people’s distress, and particularly how distress caused by economic reforms, and Structural adjustment policies gets re-interpreted through bio-psychiatry and Big Pharma as ‘mental illness’, meaning the site of intervention and transformation is the individual brain, usually through medications, glossing over socio-political conditions. I have spent some time in India, exploring these issues, and also working with grassroots mental health organisations, and running workshops on the survivor movement and on hearing voices.”

Asylum Stall at the Manchester and Salford Anarchist Book Fair, Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
Drop by the Asylum stall at the anarchist book fair this Saturday between 10am and 4pm. We’ll be sharing a stall with the Disability Action Network.

Asylum Talk at Manchester Metropolitan University, November 23rd, 2011
This session, chaired by China Mills and with guest speakers William Park from Preston and Dean Smith from Fleetwood focused on why struggles in the field of mental health are part of the field of critical psychology, describing the work of the radical magazine ‘Asylum: The Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry’

Asylum at the University of Huddersfield, November 2011
Asylum members gave a talk at the University of Huddersfield.

Asylum Workshop at the OK Cafe, Manchester, Tuesday, 23rd October 2011
Asylum gave a workshop and discussion session on why mental health politics should matter to anti-capitalists.

Asylum Conference, Manchester, September 14-15, 2011
Asylum Collective and our friends and supporters in the Critical Psychiatry Network, Hearing Voices Network and Psychology Politics Resistance met to discuss alternatives to pathological labels of ‘mental illness’.
Email us at [email protected] for more information on any of the above events or to join our emailing list.

Asylum Magazine 23.4 – Winter 2016


This issue and the next (due out in March 2017) highlight new and original work on the theme of Mad Studies –  inspired by the second Mad Studies stream at the Lancaster Disability Studies conference in September 2016.  Mad Studies can be seen as both a continuation and a new phase of radical scholarship and activism in mental health.  By the final session of the conference, there was a real sense that Mad Studies had come of age.

Read more

Asylum Magazine 23.2 – Summer 2016

Introduction – Thirty Years – Progress or Stagnation?
This issue is devoted to contributions which reflect on the changes (or not) that we have witnessed during the last thirty years; they also consider what is to be done. Included are a range of local views, and we especially welcome interesting appraisals from Italy, Australia and Greece.During the lifetime of Asylum magazine, the mental health systems of many nations have moved from relying on the big old mental hospitals to relying mainly on a kind of ‘care in the community’.

Read more

A Mad Summer’s Day by Rufus May

When you raise awareness the way we did on that Monday morning in July you feel proud to be involved in a real movement for change. Like most successful activism, this was a purely grass roots affair. People prepared to say enough is enough. Forget the spin, forget cool liberal reformism, forget consultation exercises. Its time to take a stand. Read more

From terror to dancing again by Dina Poursanidou



Ten years ago in June 2008 my latest mental health crisis started…it lasted 2 years (2008-2010) …in 2011 and whilst attending an arts mental health project for people with ‘severe and enduring’ mental health problems (the project was START in Manchester) I did some creative writing in an attempt to represent (with words and pictures) what my latest mental health crisis felt like…I created a spidergram to represent my crisis …it is a disturbing and painful read…10 years later I am able to dream and laugh and dance again …and I want to be alive…feeling tearful whilst writing this…it feels important to share this here….

22 June 2018


spidergram dina