Devoted to the views of people who have experienced
mental health problems.
We welcome contributions from readers for this section of the
website. Please email articles to the firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you help us shape mental health services for older
An invitation to join the
RCPsych Service Users’ and Carers’ Forum of the Faculty of Old Age
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is seeking
volunteers from across the UK to join the new Service Users’ and
Carers’ Forum of the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry. The Faculty is
concerned with the mental health of older people and in particular
the development of psychiatric services for later life. The mental
health conditions which the Faculty is particularly interested in
include depression, anxiety, dementia, substance misuse and
The College has a long history of patient and
carer involvement to ensure that all College activities are
informed by the experience of patients and carers.
Applications are invited from people who have
personal experience, either themselves or through caring for
someone else, of mental illness in later life. We are looking for
people who are interested in mental health and can represent the
views of service users and carers in old age psychiatric services.
Good communication skills and a willingness to see the ‘bigger
picture’ are important. Forum members will be given training and
support. We also pay any travel and subsistence expenses.
Volunteers will work mainly as a small virtual
group but will elect two members to attend three meetings of the
Faculty Executive Committee each year in person. There is also the
option to attend the College’s central Service Users’ and Carers’
For further information and an application
form, contact Thomas Kennedy, specifying
'RCPsych Old Age Psychiatry Faculty Service User/Carer
Volunteer' or phone 020 3701 2548.
Closing date for applications: 31 October 2014.
Diane Goslar, service user, the Royal College of Psychiatrists
has produces a leaflet for patients, carers and anyone else who
would like to find out more about:
- what recovery is (in my case also alcohol dependence)
- what it means
- how to stay strong to overcome your dependence.
"I have been a carer of my son for over 40 years. During that
time I have learnt a lot about mental illness, in the way it has
been treated in this country and the people who are treating
Podcast: The standpoint of a carer
Raj Persaud talks to Nick whose son developed some psychiatric
difficulties. Nick explains the predicament from the standpoint of
a carer, and describes an all-too-familiar battle that carers
have getting NHS psychiatry services to take the concerns of
carers and relatives seriously. As a result of being ignored when
they tried to inform services, his son became seriously unwell
and a series of tragic events unfolded. Nick talks frankly and
openly about his experiences and speaks for many carers and
relatives in his account of what they have to endure.
Walking : Robert Dangoor
The more you walk, the less you need to see your doctor
Ramblers and Macmillan's Cancer Support have
just launched the 'Walking For Health Campaign'.
I find regular physical activity, like walking,
improves my mood, helps relieve depression and increases feelings
I walk almost two hours every day, through
Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, to Park Lane and back.
I find nature and animals help me to face and
understand the unpredictability of people.
There is an old saying, ‘An apple a day, keeps
the doctor away” but what you eat is good as far as it goes.
Walking encompasses your whole being.
"We fell in love immediately and 9 months later we married and
already had a baby on the way. It should not have worked, as our
relationship was a long distance one and there was a big age gap.
But it did and we had the most amazing marriage. This perfection
was shattered in October 2009 when my ex went to Afghanistan for 6
months returning in March 2010."
Diane Goslar from the Patients and Carers
Liaison Group of the Addictions Faculty of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists writes about what Recovery means to her.
"What does “Recovery” mean to you? Do
you have a fixed description of it in your mind? Perhaps for
you it’s the process after injury, the healing phase which, having
successfully come to an end, enables life to continue as before –
you’ve recovered. Well, let me tell you how I, as a
recovering alcoholic, see Recovery."
Natalie first wrote to the College in June 2012 to tell us
of her experience of living with schizophrenia, hearing voices,
and about her recovery and her life. Natalie has now updated
her account and to tells us what she is now doing
with her life, keeping herself active and in her words: "I am a
confident, and a positive and happy mental health character and
should still like to break down any stigma attached for those
suffering with mental health issues."
Janey was a dear friend of Rethink Mental Illness (and of
the Royal College of Psychiatrists) who died tragically in hospital
in 2010. In her life she worked tirelessly to improve the care of
people living with mental health problems and to fight stigma.
new award has been created for a truly exceptional person living with mental
illness who has, like Janey, dedicated their time to:
- raising awareness of the realities of living with Schizophrenia
and other mental illnesses
- combating stigma associated with mental illness including
- campaigning for the better care for people affected by mental
illness, including schizophrenia, both in and outside of
People working professionally in mental health will only be
considered if they have made an exceptional contribution to these
areas, in addition to their professional role.
"I have decided to share my experience of growing up with a mother
of mental illness who was only diagnosed when I was 20. This meant
that we did not have any access to any support groups or care by
any outside agency, i.e. social workers or doctors and only had
ourselves to fall back on with long lasting damaging effects on our
lives. I am now at a stage where I would like to share my story in
the hope that others may benefit from this."
Depression and Happiness by Robert D Dangoor
“I thought of this saying when I realised that
when I was depressed,
I stopped myself from doing things – I put
obstacles in my way.
When you’re melancholy it’s like when you’re
in your garage and the engine won’t start.
When you’re content, you’re revving the
engine, raring to go.”
An article by Clare Campbell, Member of the RCPsych Carers'
Forum and Dr Michael Yousif, member RCPsych Public Education
An extract from Stan Popovich's book "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear
Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an
easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques
that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties.
"I have many friends who are well-educated and very talented and
are amazing to be around but who occasionally shut themselves away.
They feel utterly worthless and shy away from everyone. I wrote the
song 'Manic Depressive' so that they would not feel alone and to
know that I do understand what they are going through."
"The initial stimulus for this poem was a TV program that I
saw about depression and the brain. Two guest speakers Elyn
Saks and Kay Redfield Jamison, spoke frankly and honestly about
experiences with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. When they
indicated that depression is the kind of pain that is not easily
put into words, I decided to research the topic. It became more
than a poem and I used the letter - d - profusely." Helen
"I suppose it's because my psychiatrist changed my life - it's
that simple. This person slowly helped me through difficult
physical and mental stages to the point where I could again
function, and hopefully, once again contribute to society."
Clifford Greenhalgh, a former member of the College's
Carer's Forum talks about his experience of caring for his wife
Freda who suffered from Alzheimer's and what services can do to
improve the care of patients.
First presented at a public seminar as part of the 4th Scottish
Mental Health Arts and Film Festival in 2010.
SD writes about her personal experience of coming off
Venlafaxine and the withdrawal symptoms she experienced. She also
offers very practical advice for anyone considering stopping their
Coming Apart : Music video featuring 'Friends of Emmet' about
Kevin Hines' life
Kevin Hines is an extraordinary person who
survived his suicide attempt when he jumped off the Golden Gate
Bridge in San Francisco. His life is now spent in suicide
prevention and he has recently secured a book deal.
An Irish pop band ‘Friends of Emmet’ has
written a song inspired by him and his life. The message is a very
powerful one as the lyrics are inspired by the events leading
up to Kevin's attempted suicide. The video reflects some of
the extraordinary events on the day of his suicide attempt.
However, the song is very upbeat with an incredibly moving and very
powerful message of hope. The music is excellent and the lyrics are
Dr Alys Cole-King
Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist
South West Division: The Lisa Thomas Poetry Prize
This is an annual prize open to anyone connected with mental
health which takes place during the Spring each year with prizes
being awarded at the South West Division's Spring
Biannual Meeting. There are three prizes, 1st Prize
£300, 2nd Prize £150 and 3rd Prize £50.
The response for the recent competition was excellent and we
received over 60 poems of a very high quality which made it very
difficult for the judges, poets Victoria Field and Matt Harvey
together with Dr Mike Metcalfe. The prizes were presented and
poems read by Victoria and Matt. Unfortunately Emily Wills,
Katherine Fyfe and Mark Lewis were unable to join us but we
were delighted that Angela Hodges could be there to accept her
the winners' entries.
The Guardian: Tell us series
Readers of the You
tell us series have asked the Guardian for more articles
written from a personal perspective. In this series, the
Guardian has commissioned Comment is free
commenters to write above the line about their own experiences.
Each person tackles a subject from a distinctive angle, and makes
policy recommendations, in the hope that they will inspire others
to comment below the line. The Guardian started the series by
mental health issues.
A talk from the heart about the experiences of service users
struggling on benefits and the governement's push to get people
back into work through the Welfare Reform Bill.
by Graham Morgan from the Highland Users Group
(HUG) at the Annual meeting of Services Users
and Carers: 2009. Graham is also a member of the College's
Service User Recovery Forum.
Alex writes about her feelings of grief shortly after
losing her father. (Sept 2009)
A report from the Highland Users Group about the important links
between mental and physical health. (2008)
by Graham Morgan of HUG (Highland Users Group). The text of a
talk given at the RCPsych Annual Conference. (June
We welcome contributions from readers for this section of the
website. Please email articles to the email@example.com.
Notes for contributors:
Articles should be less than 3,500 words. They should focus
on the experience of being unwell or recovery. Ideally they should
contain information that others might find useful. Apart from the
Author they should not refer to individuals who could be
identified. Not all articles submitted will be published.
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