Monday 6 September 2010

Tenby Triumph

Over 300 people sign our "Road to Recovery" message in Pembrokeshire, a reflection of an excellent event and real public support for the campaign. Highlights include an exhibition of paintings, craft, and photography, musical entertainment, good food, and guided walks around the town. Truly an holistic event covering all aspects of life!

Interesting research about the myth of violence and mental illness is published today:

The rates of violent crime among people who were mentally ill and abused substances were no different to those among the general population who abused substances.

In each group, the rate of violent crime was between six and seven times higher than in the general population.

"Most of the relationship between violent crime and serious mental illness can be explained by alcohol and substance abuse," said Dr Fazel.

"That tends to be the thing that mediates the link between violence and the illness."

He said that if the substance abuse was taken away, the illness itself had a "minimal" or non-existent role in violence.

Dr Fazel said: "It's probably more dangerous walking outside a pub on a late night than walking outside a hospital where patients have been released"

The study said that people with bipolar disorder were 10 times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than those in the overall population because they tended to turn to substances to counter the effects of their medication or to get other relief from their symptoms.

A previous paper on schizophrenia, written by several of the same researchers, came to similar findings.

See this link for more.

This will not come as a surprise to Hafal's Members. Indeed many of them would add, I am sure, that substance misuse does not just raise risks but is a substantial inhibitor of recovery whereas serious mental illnesses, of themselves, are very amenable to good recovery in spite of the traditional, pessimistic clinical view and that of many in the public.

Much could be achieved by a focus on assisting people with a serious mental illness to tackle substance misuse problems rather than accepting them fatalistically as "normal" concomitants of the illness. Similarly the life expectancy of patients could be raised by helping them to quit smoking rather than accepting heavy smoking as "the least of their worries". It all comes back to valuing the lives of people who experience serious illness as much as anybody else's. Good on Hafal Pembrokeshire for showing just that when the microbus came to town.