Friday 16 May 2014

Truly Comprehensive

Ever tried to work out how mental health law in Wales, the Welsh Government's strategy for mental health, and their current delivery plan fit together? And did you try to distinguish what bits of all those things apply to people who are seriously ill, to those with lesser problems, and to the rest of the population?

If the answer is "yes" to these questions I might be tempted to suggest you get a life!

But, seriously, it is important that you do understand the big picture whether you are a politician, policy maker, commissioner of services (are we allowed to call them "commissioners" these days, not sure?), health or social care professional, or a consumer of those services (I'm sure we aren't supposed to say "consumer" but I like it - it presumes a right to choice and respect more than "user").

So here is some good news!

Longstanding Hafal senior consultant Phil Thomas, with his unequalled background in mental health services in England, Scotland, and Wales, has  produced a truly comprehensive Working Guide to Mental Health Policy and Legislation in Wales which we are making available through Hafal's in-house information service Mental Health Wales.

Find it on this link.

Trust me, I've been trying to grasp this stuff for months but only when I saw Phil's analysis could I see the picture so clearly - and it shows up the weak points as well as the strengths which is particularly valuable to campaigners.

Essential reading for professionals who had best get stuck in before they bump into a consumer who has read it and will be able to tell them what they are supposed to be providing!


Yes, essential reading but, Phil won't mind me saying, not for the beach.

If you must read about mental health services on holiday try the caustic, funny and disturbing In a Country of Mothers - a reminder by my current favourite author A M Homes that talking therapy depends entirely on the skill and integrity of the therapist.

This story shows how badly wrong things can go when the integrity isn't there, a useful reminder that we have to watch out for all that poorly regulated therapy which hides behind public and patient enthusiasm for psychological treatment - which is fine but dangerous if uncritical.

There are plenty of snake-oil merchants prepared to take your money to listen to your problems and give you bad advice; worse, there are occasionally wicked practitioners who exploit vulnerable people.

Nobody should use a counsellor or therapist who isn't fully accredited but even the respectable accrediting bodies vary in how much they actually check people out.

Watch out for our campaign on treatments this autumn and meanwhile there are contacts for accrediting bodies and further advice in our treatments guide here.