Mental Health & Policing – post the Sean Rigg Inquest

led by BMHUK, sponsored by SLaM

DATE Monday 8 July 2013

TIME 5 pm – 7 pm (doors open 4.30 pm)

VENUE Civic Suite, Lewisham, Catford Road, London SE6 4RU

The 3rd in a series of community engagement seminars run by human rights campaigns group Black Mental Health UK (BMHUK) with the support of South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).*

Themes to be discussed include:

  • Policing, Mental Health & Black Britain

Transparency and accountability: Changes and improvements in accessing healthcare

  • Post Sean Rigg

Improving community relations and restoring trust in the services

  • Places of Safety – alternatives to Police custody

Health based and community based places of safety what is needed to make this a reality

  • Family Involvement & Confidentiality

How the Trust work closely families and carers to improve services

We want this event to include a range of voices – service users, carers, local stakeholders, voluntary/partner organisations to contribute discussion in addition to panel contributions. Themes that emerge will be used to inform those that follow.

Attendance is open to people from Lewisham and across London.

Directions visit:

Registration: please register in advance to help with planning

Email: / tel: 020 7152 4090

PDF here: Mental Health and Policing_Invitation3

Briefing here: Mental Health and Policing_Invitation Briefing doc3


2nd July– How to Develop your Self Esteem 11-1pm

9th July– Open Event to CoolTan Participants: Understanding Gender Equalities by Ester Craddock by SlaM Trainer 11-1pm

10th July– Men’s Group 3-5pm

16th July– Understanding How Medicines Work by SlaM Trainer 11-1pm

23rd July– Understanding the Structure of the Social Care System 11-1pm

24th July– Essentials of the Mental Health Act by Robert Lepper, SlaM Trainer 2-4pm

30th July– Learning about Social Care Services on Offer 11-1pm

(Check website for possible additional Training dates / and changes!)

Please email Phil Ruthen or Michelle Savioz for more information.

“July’s programme is the first full month including specialist workshops delivered by trainers from South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM). This ground-breaking arrangement will provide new and sustained opportunities for Self-Advocacy participants over the next 2 years. Working with SLaM trainers it’s hoped Self-Advocacy will strengthen further across the region. Please come and find out more about this exciting new addition!”

Pdf here: Self-advocacy A5 template for July 2013 Schedule

A showcase of creativity and wellbeing: Matthew’s blog

Antidepressants ‘could be risk to unborn babies’

The risk posed by some popular antidepressants in early pregnancy is not worth taking for women with mild to moderate depression, an expert has warned.

Professor Stephen Pilling says evidence suggests SSRIs can double the risk of a child being born with a heart defect.

The drugs have been used by up to one in six women of child-bearing age.

A manufacturer contacted by the BBC denies any link to major foetal malformations.

Panorama has spoken to eight mothers who had babies born with serious heart defects after taking a commonly used SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant while pregnant. Currently, prescription guidelines for doctors only warn specifically against taking the SSRI, paroxetine, in early pregnancy.

But Prof Pilling, expert adviser to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), says that advice is about to be updated.

“The available evidence suggests that there is a risk associated with the SSRIs. We make a quite a lot of effort really to discourage women from smoking or drinking even small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy, and yet we’re perhaps not yet saying the same about antidepressant medication, which is going to be carrying similar – if not greater – risks,” he said.

When Anna Wilson, from Ayrshire, had her 20-week scan, doctors realised her son had a serious heart problem and would need immediate heart surgery when he was born.

Now eight months old, David was hooked up to machines for the first five weeks of his life. He will need more open-heart surgery before he starts school and doctors say he may not live beyond 40.

“He’s got a lot of suffering ahead of him before anything else,” his mother said. “We know that’s a certainty and that’s pretty awful.”

Four years before she became pregnant, Mrs Wilson was prescribed the drug Citalopram by her GP because she was suffering from anxiety.

Her doctor told her it was fine to continue using the drug when trying for a baby. But after David was born she asked what might have caused his heart condition.

“We did meet with a cardiologist at one of the scan appointments, and he explained that as far as he knew there were no environmental factors and it wasn’t because of anything we as parents had done. It was just one of those things – couldn’t be prevented,” she said.

Prof Pilling says the guidance will now be re-written to take in to account evidence that the SSRI antidepressants, as a group, are linked to heart defects.

He says the risk of any baby being born with a heart defect is around two in 100; but the evidence suggests if the mother took an SSRI in early pregnancy that risk increases to around four in 100.

He says that women not suffering from the most severe depression who become pregnant whilst taking the drug are taking an unnecessary risk.

“You’ve got double the risk. And for women who are mild to moderately depressed, I don’t think that those risks, in most cases, are really worth taking” he said.

“It’s not just when a woman who’s pregnant is sitting in front of you. I think it needs to be thought about with a woman who could get pregnant. And, that’s the large majority of women aged between 15 and 45.”

Mrs Wilson will never know for sure what caused David’s heart defect, but said if she had known there was even a very small risk associated with the drug she would have stopped taking it.

“If David’s condition was preventable, and it wasn’t prevented, that’s really, really awful.

“If somebody had given me the choice in pregnancy and said ‘there’s a risk of this’, I would have stopped taking those tablets in a flash.”

Lundbeck, the manufacturer of Citalopram, says a recent review of scientific literature concluded that the drug “does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of major foetal malformations”.

“The decision not to prescribe anti-depressants to a woman who is depressed… may generate greater risks to the woman and her foetus than the risks of exposure to the medication.”

#RT via Andrea via

Bethlem Museum of the Mind: Using Photographs of Real People

From the 1850s, the new technique of photography was quickly adopted by psychiatrists for a variety of purposes. These included use for patient identification, to explore the role of physiognomy (facial shape and expression) in understanding diagnoses of mental illness, and to investigate the role of heredity in its onset. At Bethlem, we have a series of society-style portraits taken by Henry Hering in the mid nineteenth-century, as well as other, later, types of images: institutional ‘mug-shots’ pasted into casebooks, group photographs in the grounds or pictures taken for scientific research.

All of these photographs show images of real people, who spent periods of their lives undergoing mental health treatment. It is not always possible for us to determine whether pictures were taken with consent (although there are certainly recorded instances of people in the 1800s opting out of being photographed). Given these considerations, we would like to ask for your thoughts on the way in which these images should or should not be displayed in the new Museum of the Mind.

The link below will take you to a short survey, in which you will be asked to look at three different nineteenth-century photographs of patients at Bethlem and record your thoughts and feelings about them.

Your suggestions will help to shape the displays in the museum.

Click here to take survey:

Southwark Mental Health Stakeholder Engagement Event 18th July

Please see attached flyer giving details of the Mental Health Stakeholder event on 18th July.

To book your place, please email/call the organisers and they will add you to the circulation list to receive more information.

Mental health stakeholder Engagement

Also, please feel free to pass this invitation onto anyone in Southwark who has an interest in Mental Health Services.

#RT via Martin

Judges rule back-to-work assessments ‘unfair’ to mentally ill

Iain Duncan Smith’s drive to cut the number of people living on disability benefits has suffered a blow after judges ruled that back-to-work assessments discriminate against people with mental health conditions.

Three judges sitting at the Upper Tribunal in London ruled that the current system, which places the onus on the claimants to produce evidence of their condition, is unreasonable to people with mental health conditions such as autism.

The ruling that the current assessment system breaches equalities laws could call into question the decisions against hundreds of thousands of would-be Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants over the last five years.

The system of Work Capability Assessments, carried out by the private contractor Atos, has been mired in controversy amid claims it is “inhumane”.

Charities claim it has unfairly denied thousands of sick and disabled people their benefits but the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it had made major improvements to ensure the assessments are fair.

Around 670,000 people are currently receiving the benefit – almost 40 per cent of them because of mental or behavioural conditions.

Another 800,000 have been assessed and turned down after being ruled fit for work. Yet almost 115,000 people have successfully appealed already.

Two people with mental health problems brought judicial review proceedings, arguing that it is unfair to require them to obtain evidence of their condition, such as a letter from a doctor or social worker.

They were supported by three charities: Mind, the National Autistic Society and Rethink Mental Illness.

The judges agreed that it should be up to the DWP to obtain this and that it should make “reasonable adjustments” to the system.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “The judgment is a victory, not only for the two individuals involved in this case, but for thousands of people who have experienced additional distress and anxiety because they have struggled through an assessment process which does not adequately consider the needs of people with mental health problems.

“Mind has campaigned to improve the assessment process for many years and we will monitor the situation closely to ensure people with mental health problems receive the benefits they are entitled to.”

Paul Jenkins, of Rethink Mental Illness added: “This ruling proves once and for all that this cruel and unfair process is unlawful.

“The judges have independently confirmed what our members have been saying for years – the system is discriminating against some of the most ill and vulnerable people in our society, the very people it is meant to support.”

But a spokesman for the DWP said it would appeal the decision arguing that it had already tripled the number of people with mental or behavioural problems receiving special help with their applications.

He said: “We believe we have made – and continue to make – significant improvements to the WCA process for people with mental health conditions.

“The percentage of people with mental health conditions who go into the support group for ESA has more than tripled since 2010.”

#RT via Matthew via