Psychotherapy Services in South West London

Hope and Mental Health

One of the key but neglected issues facing mental health service user is lack of hope. Anyone who has experienced serious mental distress knows what a difficult time it can be, especially the first time. It can be totally disorientating. You may go through all kinds of strange and disconcerting changes to your body and mind. Where you may previously have thought you understood yourself and your feelings, you suddenly discover a whole host of new, often frightening things about your life and the world you live in. You enter institutions and services that may have only existed before as  distant and unpleasant spectres, which you associate with other people. If there is a time when you need safe certainties and reassurance and the possibility of things being alright again, it is this time. Some patients say the thing that helped them most when they first went into mental hospital was another patient saying “Well if I could manage it, so can you”. What patients need is hope: a resource for keeping themselves going. But the psychiatric system and the medical model offers very little room for hope. Their language presume that patient are ill and pathological and impose a determinist model on them. Yet is its ironic that the intention of the architects of the medical model of mental illness (nineteenth century psychiatrists) was to offer hope in the form of treatments of the mental illness. Unfortunately most of the treatments that were developed thereafter either didn’t work or were used indiscriminately. If public discussion about mental health issues became as routine as discussion about other health issue like sex, addictions, chronic conditions than we would see some progress. Nothing is so reassuring and encouraging as seeing things that have been treated as a taboo discussed in a matter of fact, sensible ways.

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