Wednesday, April 02, 2008

At the end of the tunnel

For all that I've bagged old-school print media, I was interested to see this article in the Weekend Herald about a new model for mental healthcare. Mind and Body Consultants employs people who have experienced clinical mental illness, and are now in good shape themselves, to do peer support with people who have more acute clinical illnesses.

I found the model presented really intriguing because, having had several really good friends suffer through various mental health issues, I've noticed that recovery seems to be determined to a huge extent by the ability of the person to own and manage their own experience, in spite of what other people think is normal or appropriate. In the case of my friends, medication and sympathetic healthcare were part of getting to that. However the ability to operate well day to day in an ongoing way seems to come through a strange sort of self-driven boot-straps haul up from a place of being hugely fucked to somewhere better. The person has to do it themselves, and to get there they have to somehow get their heads around the idea that they can. What could be better for that than talking weekly with a living breathing example of someone who has already made the journey?

There was a post and comments at The Standard a few weeks ago about throwing more resources at the issue of mental health and the peer support model would seem like a valid one to consider when allocating whatever pitiful cash is available. It would be nice to see something more than the ambulance at the foot of the proverbial in this country. I've seen this approach at work and in one instance it was a set-back and in the other it ended in suicide.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm unsure on this, but I do know that what we have is vastly, unbelievably inadequate.

I saw drug dealers walking across the railway tracks at Middlemore, and selling drugs, taking cash and walking away during my stay.

I saw a consultant once in three weeks. There were nurses, who spent their time picking up vomit, and restraining out of control people. There was no one else.

There is really no government provided mental health care in Auckland, and perhaps the rest of New Zealand.

I only survived by paying a private doctor, who knew his stuff in , with money earned from my nascent salary. He charged $300 life-saving bucks a session.

You can forget models of therapy, when the basic mode of treatment here is to lock someone up long enough that they are no longer an emergency, and then release them.

I spent 5 minutes with a consultant on the day of my discharge in Middlemore, and at no other time did I encounter anyone prepared, or able to discuss my illness.

The "bootstrapping" you mention is true enough, but it's really because there's nowhere else to go. Either you survive the toxicity, or it kills you.

I seriously ponder whether simply freeing the inmates and giving them large doses of pleasure inducing drugs (to take at their option), wouldn't be any less harmful than the current system.

The system prevents people dying, but beyond that, it's merely an environment where behaviors are cooled down enough to discharge peopl, whether through regression to the mean, (waiting long enough until the patient achieves their calm cycle), or sedation.

It's not treatment.

Lyn said...

Thanks for sharing such a lucid account. Your story doesn't sound unfamiliar, given what I've seen some of my nearest and dearest go through, but that doesn't make it any less horrendous. We need proper care in the public system and have done for years and years, and your comment is a reminder that crisis care remains an area that still desperately needs attention. I also have to say that your consultant's $300 life-saving bucks is something that New Zealand should be fucking ashamed of. From your writing you sound well. I hope that's true and it keeps being true.

An Binh said...
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