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’.

To some extent this responded to the thoroughgoing critique of mental health care posed by ‘anti-psychiatry’ during the 1960s and 70s. All the same, nowhere in the world is there an official mental health system which will allow that anyone’s very worrying emotional distress and irrationality is largely a result of emotional and psychological trauma, which in turn is usually driven by something pathological in the social relations. And so, thirty years after the switch to ‘care in the community’, and fifty or sixty years after anti-psychiatry, the official response still has no idea that ‘clients’ could be helped by genuine solidarity and encouragement. There is no coherent official theory of cause or remedy. Never mind: everybody must blindly believe in the failed medical model, and ‘clients’ must be grateful for their medication.


Editorial: Thirty Years – Progress or Stagnation?
Dr Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director for Mental Health (NHS England), says…
Thirty Years of Democratic Psychiatry Down the Drain or… the Struggle Continues?  Phil Hutchinson
Thirty Years Speaking Out   Andrew Roberts for the Survivors History Group
Educate, Agitate, Organise!   Mick Mckeown
Ramblings and Reservations    Tina Coldham
ECT and the Fish Pond     William Park
Small Acts of Rebellion    Linda Gask
Olive’s Story & The Phoenix of Hope   Margaret Turner & Olive Bucknall
Soteria Brighton: Origins and activities    Dominic Pearson & Katy Baboulene
Trieste Before & After     Daniel Magalhães Goulart
Is Psychiatry Really Better Now? A view from Australia      Deidre Oliver
Mental Health Care in Greece     Eugenie Georgaca
Challenging an Increasingly Maddening World: The timely emergence of Mad Studies   Peter Beresford
The Mad Society of Canada (MADSoC)
Speaking Out Against Psychiatry     Cheryl Prax
News and Findings

Details of some contributors
Phil Hutchinson has tried very hard to be normal, with predictably unhappy results. He wants a job in the steel industry and £13 to send a bottle of rum to his son in North Wales.
Andrew Roberts has suffered from periods of suicidal depression since the 1950s. He was a member of the Mental Patients’ Union in the 1970s, and with Peter Campbell is now working on a book on survivors’ history from 1800 to the present. This will be published by Palgrave. You can join The Survivors History Group mailing list by writing to:
Helen Spandler has been a member of the Asylum Magazine collective for more than twenty years. She works at the University of Central Lancashire.
Mick Mckeown is Reader in Democratic Mental Health at the University of Central Lancashire, and a long-time activist with Unison; he has a seat on Unison’s national nursing committee.
Tina Coldham first started using mental health services in 1990, and is still a practicing depressive. She became a user activist through setting up self-help groups, and also being part of a local successful campaigning user group.  This led to wider involvement and work but which still feels like banging her head against a brick wall at times.
William Park is the creative writing editor for Asylum.
Linda Gask is Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester, and a retired consultant psychiatrist. Her latest book is The Other Side of Silence: A psychiatrist’s memoir of depression.
Daniel Magalhães Goulart graduated as a psychologist from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and was a Masters and PhD student in Education, University of Brasília (CAPES). He is a member of the Discourse Unit, Manchester,  Lecturer at the University Centre of Brasília, and an activist and researcher in mental healthcare.
Deidre Oliver is a happy granny living in Melbourne. She plays tennis, writes and sculpts. She trained as a mental health nurse and also survived psychiatry, and is a sometime psychiatric advocate. She campaigns against ECT, and among other activities, works with Speak out Against Psychiatry and Mindfreedom.
Eugenie Georgaca is senior lecturer in clinical psychology at the School of Psychology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She teaches, researches and publishes in critical mental health. She is involved with the Observatory for Rights in the Field of Mental Health, and with the Hellenic Hearing Voices Network, and through them with the European radical mental health movement.

Sample article:

‘Without a doubt, the biggest change in the mental health services during the last thirty years is the interest now taken in the views of service-users. During its early years, Asylum magazine was viewed by the psychiatric profession as scandalous. The idea of spending much time listening to patients – let alone listening to their views on mental disorder or psychiatry – was anathema. In those days, a doctor was considered very remiss in his duties if he ever ‘got too close’ to his patients. But nowadays every psychiatrist likes to boast about his close friendship with a service-user! Most of the credit for this huge shift in attitude must go to the survivors and service-users movement. And Asylum Magazine has played no small part in that movement. As for the future, of course the whole of the NHS and social services are under great pressure, but it now looks certain that at last the politicians have realised that wider financial savings can be made by bringing the mental health services up to parity with those for physical health. I believe we will soon see significant increases in funding, as well as increased attention given to the views of service-users. Many congratulations to the Asylum collective for bringing the magazine to its thirtieth birthday, and may it live to see many more!’
Dr Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director for Mental Health (NHS England)