I spent a bit of last week writing a draft of an article to go in a psychiatric journal. It's on Lived Experience Mentoring; that is to say, pairing a psychiatrist up with a service user to help the psychiatrist improve his practice. It's a ground breaking project, and I think we are the only organisation to be doing it. So far, three psychiatrists have been through the programme, with two service users, one of whom is me. The aim is to produce recovery orientated doctors, who will see the client as a person with goals, hopes and ideas, rather than just as a patient. This may sound like teaching your Grandmother, but as you will all know, most psychiatrists don't work like that. The results are at an early stage and the project has yet to be properly evaluated, but all the signs are good. All three doctors say it has made them very aware of their own practice and how it has improved with mentoring. One of the topics we covered was power and how the mentoring was a kind of inversion of the power game. Many doctors act like tin pot gods, making sure that we, the patients, know exactly who is the expert - this project has shown that service users are the experts by experience. My only slight fear is that, so far, only psychiatrists who are interested in either recovery or improving their practice have signed up. The ones who think they know it all, whose practice is poor, we haven't reached yet. They're my next target for attack.
I've had a quiet weekend, punctuated by writing letters to the Times and the Telegraph about mental health. I think I must be the original Disgusted of Dorset. I've had a few letters published before, so I write in hope rather than expectation. There have been so many articles and letters over the past couple of years about mental health being the Cinderella service - yet still nothing is done. Efforts (and money) are poured into cancer drugs to halt the side effects, but we continue to face very similar side effects all our lives. Research grants are given to Cancer Research UK, but I don't think there even is a research charity looking at mental illness. I'm completely fed up with it.
Next week is fairly busy with meetings and a lunch out on Friday with a friend who lives the other side of town.
I'm wide awake again - must have missed that all important drug window.
I spent 16 years in the RAF defending the Free World , then got bunged out unceremoniously for being bipolar. I and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Funny old world, isn't it?