This week we tried something a little different and invited our listeners to ‘ask us anything’. Absolutely anything at all. The topics ranged from our usual territory of mental health and the NHS through to the psychological impact of Santa and the, slightly sinister sounding, ‘Elf on the Shelf’.
Theresa May’s speech to the 2017 Conservative Party Conference may be long remembered, though perhaps not for the reasons she might wish. It was thus easy to overlook some of the substance of what she said. While the PM may have been handed a P45, she is still the holder of the top job in the UK Government and it’s of more than passing interest to us that she announced the formation of an independent enquiry to review the current Mental Health Act (MHA). The review will be chaired by Professor Sir Simon Wessely and will focus on increasing rates of detention under the Act. It will also look at the disproportionate numbers of people from black and minority ethnicities (BME groups) who are detained using these powers. Ahead of the review group’s first meeting (in November 2017) we asked several of our contributors and staff what they think of the announcement and where they hope it may lead. We’re very pleased to welcome back the legal expertise brought by @THEAGENTAPSLEY and to debut our very own Maria Griffiths. So, without further ado, let’s roundtable!
In this show we look at how professionals working in mental health relate to their own experiences of distress. Can a worker’s own history of difficulties enrich their practice? Or are other factors more important? Should a worker’s own experiences be taboo when talking to service users, or It is helpful for a professional to be open about things that have happened to them?
John McGowan asks if it’s OK for mental health professionals to give opinions on Donald Trump’s mental health?
Someone asked me what I thought about Donald Trump the other day. I was about to give a fairly obvious reply when the earnest tone and questioning look made me pause. As the penny dropped I realised I wasn’t being asked my opinion as a person, I was being asked what I thought as a psychologist. Did I think the US president was mentally unwell and thus not fit for the office he holds?
Was mental health care in the past as barbaric as we might think? John McGowan finds out about some innovators of the Victorian era.
What do we think of mental health treatments in the 19th century? My own mind conjures up shocking images of asylums, like the one where people were caged up in the film Amadeus, or the ‘Madhouse’ of Bedlam in Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (pictured above). Both were actually set in the 18th Century but it’s all folded into a general impression of imprisonment with some torture thrown in. (Bedlam, incidentally, is a corruption of the name of The St. Mary of Bethlehem Hospital in London which still exists, though we now know it as The Bethlem.)