Thursday, 25 July 2013
Mental health and psychiatry on the small screen
What a week it’s been for mental health and
psychiatry on TV. On Wednesday, BBC Three broadcast Rachel
Bruno: My Dad and Me, a powerful and thought-provoking
documentary in which the 26-year old daughter of boxer Frank Bruno
set out to discover the truth about her father’s bipolar disorder.
Dr Mark Salter, one of the College’s long-standing media experts,
took part. You can
watch again on BBC iPlayer – keep an eye out for mark at 24
minutes and 50 minutes.
And last night, Newsnight aired a
special report on electroconvulsive therapy (starts 18 minutes
in). Professor Ian Reid, Chair of our Special Committee on ECT and
Related Treatments, took part in what was a really excellent and
balanced report on the treatment.
And that’s not all. In recent weeks, I’ve
enjoyed watching the programmes aired as part of BBC Three’s It’s a
Mad World season, including Diaries of a Broken
Mind and the three-part series Don’t Call Me
Crazy set in Manchester’s McGuiness Unit.
Perhaps at last we are seeing signs of a change - with an
growing number of TV programmes tackling some of these really
difficult issues in an thoughtful, open, and balanced way. Not only
are they giving time to mental health, they are giving time to
psychiatrists to explain what mental illness is, how it can be
treated, and how decisions can be made by health professionals
working I partnership with patients and carers. I very much
hope there will be more to come.
A series of meetings
I had many good meetings this week,
including two governance meetings for the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) and
the National Collaborating Centre for Mental
Health (NCCMH). These both emphasised how much really positive
work they undertake under the umbrella of the College. I also had
meetings of both political party taskforces on mental
health (which are always fascinating) as well as meetings on
restraint in mental health settings with the Royal College of
Nursing and Mind. I also had a great catch up on the Reading
Well: Books on Prescription scheme.
Letters to the Editors
Over the last few weeks, I've had several
letters accepted in a number of national newspapers on
minimum pricing for alcohol,
plain packaging for cigarettes and internet
pornography. I've written another letter to The
Independent praising the Archbishop of Canterbury's plans for
an alternative to payday lending, which should be
published in Saturday's paper. Payday loan shops- along with fast
food shops and cheap booze outlets - are another part of our toxic
high streets. We know that debt and vulnerability can often walk
hand in hand, and we need all financial service companies to
prioritise the needs of vulnerable people.
No doubt some people will see me as a
reincarnation of Mary Whitehouse for writing these letters. But I
believe it is part of our role as doctors to speak out when we
know the special vulnerabilities of some of our patients. And in my
area of work as a child psychiatrist, I am particular concerned
about the impact that ready access to violent, sadistic and
pornographic images on the internet is having on young people's
minds - to say nothing of the child victims whose images appear and
whose lives are so blighted.
In other news, I've been following through
on our employment and mental health seminar to deliver some useful
outcomes. Together with the Centre for Mental Health, we have
started our economic modelling of the value (in terms of both
improved patient care and value for money) in shifting more
resources into mental health. So let's wait and see how
strong a case we can really build, and then how we can get
politicians, and those now controlling health, to listen and act.
Nothing ventured nothing gained.
I also see that NHS England and the
Health and Social Care
Information Centre (HSCIC) have published
NHS Hospital Data and Datasets: A Consultation to explore how
better extraction of information from hospitals’ data systems could
help raise standards, improve safety, and reduce inequalities in
patient care. I very much encourage you to take a look at this.
Finally, I am looking forward to the
Psychiatry Summer School in Liverpool next week. And, outside
work, I'll be enjoying some celebrations as my family prepares to
celebrate birthdays from across four generations.
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