Volume 2 • Issue 2 • 2008

Welcome to Overcoming
The monthly newsletter for primary care mental health workers

As publishers of the Overcoming series - a range of self-help guides and assisted self-help courses based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques - we aim to broaden access to assisted self-help by providing excellent resources and support to people working on the front line. In this, the ninth newsletter, we’re going to look at issues that affect us all but are particularly important for people affected by mental ill-health. If you want us to cover any topic in particular in future newsletters, then do let us know by emailing nova@overcoming.co.uk

It's here!
We are pleased to announce the official launch of www.overcoming.co.uk - our website for anyone affected by common mental health problems. Many thanks to all those who reviewed the site-in-progress and passed on valuable feedback. We hope you continue to find the website an invaluable resource for yourselves and your clients. Of course, we continue to welcome feedback from our users, so feel free to get in touch with any suggestions; email nova@overcoming.co.uk. Don't forget, the Overcoming website provides a gateway to some of the leading experts in the field of mental health and a whole host of quality-assured assisted self-help. It's a website that anyone can use but will be of most help to patients, their family and friends.

As you know, in the next few weeks we will also be launching a site dedicated to supporting professionals like you. More details at www.overcoming.co.uk

The importance of the environment
The Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC) has released its report Risk, Rights, Recovery. It is based upon the MHAC’s visits to patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 in all hospitals in England and Wales between 2005 and 2006. It also presents data on the use of the Mental Health Act taken from the Count Me In census of psychiatric inpatients during these years. The report includes direct input from service users who are or who have been detained under the ACT.

Responding to the MHAC’s report the Mental Health Foundation have focused on the importance of treatment environments. Moira Fisher, Head of Policy, says:

“It is shameful that some mental health wards remain unfit settings in which people feel vulnerable and scared. Steps clearly need to be taken to make wards safer places, especially for children and older people who find themselves inappropriately placed."

To view the full report visit:
http://www.mhac.org.uk/files/ pdf%2012th%20biennial%20report.pdf

The Nightingale Project
The Nightingale Project brings life and colour to the South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre through music and visual arts. It is based on the belief that the physical environment in hospitals plays a vital part in the healing process and that brighter surroundings positively contribute to patients’ well-being. The project is part of a growing “arts in health” movement, and has three aspects: temporary exhibitions of high-quality works of art; raising funds to purchase artworks for permanent display around the hospital; and bringing musicians into the wards to play to the patients. In these ways the Project aims to create a healing environment, and to establish a context that facilitates the psychiatric and therapeutic work that goes on in the unit. The work has also spread out from the Mental Health Centre where it started to half a dozen other hospitals, health centres and care homes - in most cases the Project has commissioned artists to produce work specifically for the site in question.

The current exhibition features works of art originally shown in J. Lyons & Co. teashops after the Second World War. Between 1947 and 1955 the Lyons company commissioned leading artists of that time to produce lithographs which were hung in the teashops to brighten up their interiors. The 32 original prints on display in the present exhibition, curated by Stephen Barnham, form the largest collection of Lyons lithographs to be exhibited in London for over 30 years.

For more information about the project and how to visit the current exhibition go to http://www.nightingaleproject.org/

Overcoming Grief
Grief is a natural and healthy reaction to loss, but it can be extremely debilitating and result in a downward emotional spiral, impacting on aspects of life such as relationships and work.

Relentless grief can trigger a host of physical and emotional problems and leave the person affected in need of more help.

Overcoming Grief guides the reader through the painful process of bereavement, and is full of helpful and practical exercises based on CBT techniques. It covers topics such as:

  • Dealing with expected or unexpected death
  • Challenging unhelpful thoughts
  • Establishing a routine and tackling avoidance
  • Returning to work
  • Practical aspects such as dealing with the funeral, birthdays etc
  • Planning a new future

Sue Morris, the author, is a Clinical Psychologist trained in CBT. She worked as a Bereavement Coordinator at a large hospice in Boston, USA, where she developed and facilitated a six-week support programme for the recently bereaved.

Dr Colin Murray Parkes, OBE MD FRCPsych, Life President of Cruse Bereavement Care, says this about the book:

“[It] contains a mixture of learning and common sense that is rare among books of advice for bereaved people. Sue Morris does not wear her knowledge on her sleeve or confuse her readers with scientific jargon. She has no hidden agenda, no magical or simple solutions to complex problems; rather she provides bereaved people with the distillation of a deep knowledge of bereavement and its many consequences.”

A community-based alternative to prisons?
A new report from the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, The Community Order and the Mental Health Treatment Requirement, finds that less than 1% of people issued with a community order had a requirement for mental health treatment in their sentence. This compares unfavourably with figures for those with a requirement for drug treatment, supervision or unpaid work. Given the high levels of mental illness amongst offenders, a rising suicide rate in prisons and the increasing problem of prison over-crowding, something must change.

The report finds that the use of community orders is “a postcode lottery”, and notes that the barriers to their use may include stigma and a lack of access to services. The Sainsbury Centre has pledged to continue its research into why the mental health treatment requirement is not being used fully or consistently. It believes the requirement has the potential to offer a community-based alternative to prison.

This is especially important for women offenders. Almost half of the 4,400 women in English prisons today have been subject to abuse, while one in three has a child under five. Four out of five have mental health problems, most commonly depression and anxiety. The Sainsbury Centre reports that even short spells in prison damage women’s mental health and family life, yet do little to stop them offending again and nothing to help them get their lives back on track.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve services to offenders, visit http://www.nacromentalhealth.org.uk/mhu/

Keeping people in work
Much emphasis is placed on getting people back to work, but what about keeping them there in the first place? Promoting mental health in the workplace and creating healthy environments are key to improving the outcomes of our patients.

The job retention movement has just received a new boost in the form of the Line Managers’ resource - an on-line, practical guide for managing and supporting people with experience of mental health problems in the workplace. The guide is the work of Shift, a five year, Department of Health-funded initiative to tackle stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues in England.

For more information visit

Congratulations to...
Suzanne Bamber, Clare Forster and Oliver Tooze, winners of the new CD, Overcoming Depression, Talks with Your Therapist. Both Oli’s and Clare’s New Year’s Resolution was to encourage their clients to get involved in local activities. Suzanne resolved to encourage her clients to accept offers of “exercise on prescription”, taking advantage of local gym facilities.

If you weren’t one of our lucky winners then don’t worry, here’s another chance to win. Just tell us who is Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation (email newseditor@overcoming.co.uk). The first 3 correct answers received by March 1 will be awarded a free copy of Overcoming Grief.

What's in your diary?

12—14/3 • UK MHRN 3rd Scientific Conference
The Royal College of Physicians, London

The UK’s Mental Health Research Network’s third meeting.

Contact: s.osullivan@imperial.ac.uk
020 7386 1237

14/3 • Psychological Therapies and Homelessness
Society of Chemical Industries, 14/15 Belgrave Square, London

Helping homeless people with complex needs to access services

Contact: 01273 666 703

20/3 • Job Retention and Mental Health
ORT House, London

Making job retention work for people with mental health problems

Contact: 0870 890 1080

2/4 • Changing Times: Maintaining Good Practice
Warwick University

Nacro’s 18th annual youth crime conference, addressing current practice developments.

Contact: laura.hyde@naco.org.uk
020 7840 6448

3/4 • Implementing the New Mental Health Act
ORT House, London

Gives delegates the opportunity to learn about and talk through the changes to be introduced.

Contact: 0870 890 1080

Quote of the month

I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them

Oscar Wilde

  Email enquiries@overcoming.co.uk to add your key dates to our calendar.
Questions or comments? E-mail us at enquiries@overcoming.co.uk.
If you no longer want to receive this newsletter, email nova@overcoming.co.uk.
Registered Number: 05300094 England.


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