Monthly Archives: May 2017

New Publication: Mental Health Uncertainty and Inevitability – Rejuvenating the Relationship between Social Science and Psychiatry

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We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book titled Mental Health Uncertainty and Inevitability: Rejuvenating the Relationship between Social Science and Psychiatry, edited by Dr Hugh Middleton and Dr Melanie Jordan. The book celebrates the interdisciplinary doctoral work and supervision of scholars from the School of Sociology and Social Policy, School of Health Sciences and Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham. The book offers original knowledge, debate and understanding from frontline fieldwork data and the relations between mental health difficulties, mental healthcare provision and social theory. Over nine chapters, key questions and discussions examine:

  • A Symbolic Interactionist Approach to Mental Health Assertive Outreach – Dr James Roe
  • The Role of Everyday Interaction Rituals Within Therapeutic Communities – Dr Jenelle Clarke
  • The Dementia Experience: Sociological Observations on the Construction of Cognition in Care Homes – Dr Kezia Scales
  • “The Will’s There and the Skill’s There”: Prison Mental Healthcare – Dr Melanie Jordan
  • Institutional and Emotion Work in Forensic Psychiatry: Detachment and Desensitisation – Dr Ada Hui
  • Community Mental Health Teams: Interacting Groups of Citizen-Agent? – Dr Hugh Middleton
  • Handling Role Boundaries: A Basic Social Process Underpinning Decision-Making in Mental Health Teams – Dr Melanie Narayanasamy

Andrew Grundy, current PhD candidate in the School of Health Sciences, in the foreword to the book, wrote: “I commend this book to the field of mental health and illness and encourage scholars, clinicians, service users, and carers to read and consider its contents. It represents a timely, apt and worthy contribution to both psychiatry and social science. This book will obviously be of benefit to anyone interested in social theory as it presents novel applications of existing sociological theories; it will also help clinicians to step back and consider the social context in which they are working and the impacts that it can have on their practice. But it is my hope that this book will also be of benefit to mental health service users (and their carers) as they consider their social identity and what they want to get out of the services that they choose to use.”

Praise for the book has come from renowned leaders and scholars within this field. Brigitte Nerlich, Professor of Science, Language and Society, University of Nottingham writes: It is refreshing to see contributions by young and emerging social science writers grappling with cutting edge issues that transgress disciplines and academic cultures. Their findings should make academic and non-academic readers alike think afresh about mental health as an issue not only of medicine and medication but of culture and socialisation. Most importantly, the book makes us all think about whether it is possible or desirable to take refuge in biomedical certainty alone when dealing with mental health issues.”

Anne Rogers, Professor of Health Systems Implementation, University of Southampton, Author of A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness states: “Scholarly work undertaken by up and coming social scientists working in the area of social science applied to mental health.  The novelty of these interesting contributions lies in the concern to link social science theory, concepts and methods to the various settings and places within which mental health is managed thought about and enacted.   This collection which provides excellent insights into contemporary mental health matters demonstrates the opportunities and possibilities  that  mental health service settings can provide for  conducting  exciting social science research.”

Michael West, Senior Fellow, The King’s Fund and Professor of Organizational Psychology, Lancaster University:  “This collection offers powerful insights into the ways in which social science research can help us understand how to develop mental health services to ensure high quality, continually improving and compassionate care. It reveals also the rich field of opportunities for research that the study of mental health services offers for researchers. The contributors are all practitioners with social science research training and their commitment, wisdom and compassion shine through the content.”

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A panel discussion will be held to mark the launch of this book on 30th June 2017, 1-3pm, C11, Portland Building, University Park: https://mentalhealthuncertaintyandinevitability.eventbrite.co.uk

Further information about the book can be found on the publisher’s website: https://www.palgrave.com/de/book/9783319439693

This post was prepared by Dr Ada Hui, Assistant Professor at the School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham. Ada has particular interests working with disenfranchised communities.  Her research focuses on emotional labour, organisational culture and social suffering.

Email: ada.hui@nottingham.ac.uk                                                                                       Twitter: @adahui1

 

 

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Anne Goodwin: Fictionalising the mentally disordered offender

As a former clinical psychologist who now writes fiction, I’m not particularly drawn to crUnderneath 3D Coverime on the page. So it was almost as much a surprise to me as to anyone that my forthcoming second novel, Underneath, is about a man who keeps a woman captive in a cellar. But, as you might expect from my mental health background, what attracts me to this topic is not the offence itself, but the character underneath it; less the what (although the novel certainly addresses that), but the how and why.

My character Steve’s emotionally neglectful childhood has left him with abandonment issues, which he’s managed to side-step for most of his life by a peripatetic lifestyle with no expectation of forming long-term bonds. Eventually, it’s time to settle down and, as his new girlfriend moves in with him, life seems to have turned out fine. But even then there are warning signs in his defensive cognitive style. In conversation with her friend and colleague – and Steve’s nemesis – Jules, Liesel refers to Steve’s reaction to an art exhibition they’d seen together (p30):

Liesel stroked my hand. “Steve found the exhibition rather disturbing.”

“No I didn’t. I found it boring.”

“Same difference,” said Jules. “When you’re overwhelmed by emotion your mind switches itself off.”

Later, when Liesel’s priorities change, Steve rejects her attempts to talk through their differences, preferring, instead, to locate all vulnerability in her. This isn’t too difficult given her own issues with loss stemming from her mother’s suicide (p153):

Jules knows a good psychotherapist, she’d said, as if it were my mind that needed to be fixed.

Liesel’s perspective on mental health is grounded in her work as an art therapist in a forensic mental health unit. Unfortunately, although he respects her professional status, Steve disregards her expertise (p151 -2):

I felt sorry for her in a way. I imagined her spouting this nonsense in her interview and the panel covering their smirking mouths with their hands. I imagined her being ridiculed by the prosecution for trying to convince the jury that some thug hadn’t meant to throttle his wife, he was acting out some pre-conscious childhood trauma … She seemed to have rather too much in common with her patients. Fortunately, there was no hint as yet of criminality.

On visiting her workplace one lunchtime, Liesel tries to explain her therapeutic approach (and apologies to the art psychotherapists I’ve worked with for Steve’s misrepresentation of the profession). But he shows little empathy for the patients, instead envying the attention she gives them (p91-92):

“If you’ve missed out on the basics, like my patients have, you live with a yearning, an absence, whether you remember where it comes from or not.”

She was going all Freudian again. I gazed at the brown stain at the bottom of my coffee mug as I stifled a yawn.

Liesel squeezed my shoulder. “Sorry, I’m lecturing you like you’re one of my students.” She scraped back her chair. “I’m afraid you’ll have to go. It’s time for my group.”

I covered her hand with mine, imagining fucking her across the mottled table. “Let them wait.” It seemed morally offensive for a bunch of hooligans and perverts to have a woman like Liesel at their beck and call.

Advice to writers on creating an immoral character suggests being nonjudgemental and empathic, and framing the character’s behaviour as the outcome of various unfortunate events rather than a random act. It would spoil the story to give much detail about how personality combines with happenstance to make Steve a jailer, but there are parallels between my task as a writer and that of health and social care professionals working with mentally disordered offenders. Despite the disapproval and distaste one may feel for the crime that has been committed, professionals are conscious of the perpetrator’s circumstances and underlying vulnerability that have led them to cross the boundary. In a society that is often lacking in empathy for offenders, it can be hard to juggle the conflicting feelings of compassion for the person and condemnation of the crime.

I hope that mental health professionals, service users and their families with direct experiences of such services, if they should read Underneath, will consider that I’ve approached these issues respectfully. I also hope that readers without this background knowledge might be nudged a little closer towards a more compassionate perspective on the mentally disordered offender which, as a society, we urgently require.

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Anne Goodwin is a former employee of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust. Her second novel, Underneath, is published internationally on 25th May 2017 in e-book and paperback and launched at Nottingham Writers’ Studio on 10th June.

She has contributed two previous articles to the Institute of Mental Health blog:

Three novelistic approaches to mental health issues that won’t set your teeth on edge From clinical and academic writing to fiction

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IMH Research day is coming!

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House for a Gordian Knot, Ekkehard Altenburger

 

Tomorrow (Tuesday, May 9th) the IMH will be hosting its Annual Research Day to highlight the work of the Institute’s doctoral candidates, Managed Innovation Networks (MINs), and all early-career researchers (including research assistants, research fellows, and research-active clinicians and service users).

There are some fantastic talks and poster presentations lined up including a Keynote discussion from Max Birchwood titled  “Translating the science of prevention to service reform in youth mental health: the emergence of 0-25 years services across the West Midlands of England”.

The event will start at 9am and finish just before 5pm and will take place in the Institute of Mental Health, Jubilee Campus. Attendance is open to everyone so please feel free to come by.

 

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Student minds committee opportunity

What is student minds? 
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. We empower students with the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health and support others through our national network of university groups. One conversation at a time, we will transform the state of student mental health.

How can I get involved?

We are looking for a new committee for 2017-18! There are a range of roles on offer, from Co-ordinator to Events Team member. You don’t have to have any prior experience to apply but if mental health is something you are passionate about, or just helping people in general, one of these roles may be for you!

Check out the variety of roles we have on offer by clicking here. If one of these roles takes your fancy, please click here to apply.
Applications for committee close: Sunday 7th May 2017

We are also looking for student volunteers to help run our Positive Minds Course for University of Nottingham.We provide a fantastic opportunity for students who are interested in receiving training and on-going support in delivering these projects. Successful applicants will join us for a two-day training workshop, on the 16th and 17th September, covering all the basics of running a safe and effective support group, from listening skills to publicity and lots more. By creating a positive atmosphere for talking about mental health, we aim to give students the confidence to look after their own wellbeing. This is an opportunity not only to make a real difference to student life but also to develop your own skills and experience!

For more information on how to apply, go to http://www.studentminds.org.uk/peer-support-application-and-training.html
Applications for facilitators close: Sunday 30th April 2017

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