Recently, courtesy of Lucy Johnstone on twitter, I came across a chapter from Steven Coles’ book Madness Contested. The book was published in the UK in February 2013, but won’t be available in the US until September of this year.
The chapter is called “A proven alternative to the medical model in mental health care?” and describes the Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service, which for twelve years has provided a genuine alternative to mainstream mental health services.
Here are some quotes:
“We recognise that the people supported by us not only experience extreme distress because of trauma in early childhood but also because of trauma experienced in mental health services.”
“Diagnosis and the person-centred approach are not compatible as conceptual frameworks.”
“In contrast to the medical model, we certainly would not view self-injury, hearing voices, flashbacks or hallucinations as a symptom of a person’s disordered personality or illness. For example, if a woman describes inserting razor blades into her vagina, our response would not be to conceptualise this as part of an illness. Rather we would see this as an understandable and logical response in someone who has had a lifetime of sexual abuse and sexual violence and is creatively trying to find a way to stop it from happening again.”
“As an organisation set up to be an alternative to psychiatric services we are fiercely opposed to the use of psychiatric diagnoses. We pride ourselves on providing a non-medical approach to working with extreme mental distress. Our philosophy is about being alongside people in crisis, not treating them. We also believe passionately in the transformative and healing power of human connection.”
“The mental health system can disempower people further due to the lack of control that people often experience within services.”
“The person-centred approach asserts that all behaviour is understandable”
Please read the complete document. There are a great many interesting and thought-provoking quotes from service users.
The service was founded in 1999 by a group of service users as an alternative to mainstream psychiatry, and reports a Social Return on Investment ratio of slightly over five to one.