Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An inspirational approach

A better approach than what NAMI offers was put forward at a round table discussion with psychiatrists that I attended during Mental Health Week. This involved a panel of heads of mental health user networks from several countries who discussed how to empower people to take charge of their own mental health. David Crepaz-Keay from the UK was particularly compelling because he stated flatly that the problem with health care systems as most people know them is that they don't advocate any options when people don't want to take the meds. He feels strongly that individual's choices should be respected and the person helped to get better using other interventions, of which there are many.

David Crepaz-Keay ought to know. Given the medical diagnosis of schizophrenia at the age of fourteen he says he didn't get to where he is today by following medical advice. He also expressed grave concern about the culture of low expecations surrounding people with a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Here is an out-of-date bio of David Crepaz-Keay that is on the Internet. Unfortunately, I can't recall what his latest position is, but it's more senior to the one posted.

Profile - David Crepaz-Keay

Posted: 28 July 2005 | Subscribe Online

How long in the job? Four weeks.

I didn't get where I am today by: Following medical advice.

Over the course of my career, I wish I hadn't: Admitted to knowing how computers work, condemning myself to years of hard labour as unpaid IT support.

The person who influenced me most is: Pamela Jenkinson, then chair of Wokingham Mind, who I met as a hospital in-patient. She told me to do something more useful with my life.

Me and my career: The treatment of people with a psychiatric diagnosis has changed beyond recognition over the 26 years since I first received one. Although prejudice is widespread, it is demonstrably possible for people who have used psychiatric services to run mental health services.

One of the biggest blocks to developing significant roles for disadvantaged groups is other people's low expectations and the mental health world is particularly guilty of this. Part of my new role is to dismantle these barriers.

One of the most important challenges facing mental health over the next five years is to move from talking about user empowerment, to making it happen.

Curriculum Vitae
June 2005-present: Senior policy adviser at the Mental Health Foundation.
1997-2005: Consultant, deputy director and chief executive of charity Mental Health Media.
2003-present: Commissioner, Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health.
1990-8: Consultant on service user involvement, various health and social services departments.
1982-91: Worked at HM Treasury and in the water industry.


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