This Week in Mentalists – Becoming Bourgeois Edition

This weekend I realised I’d undergone a transformation, though admittedly not as dramatic a transformation as Pandora’s last week (hi, Mum-to-be!). I suddenly found myself excited about a trip to Ikea. I was thinking about lampshades, colour schemes, fitted kitchens. All this could only mean one thing. I have finally become irredeemably middle-class. Oh dear, I’ve been assimiliated.

Anyway, on with TWIM, which contains possible triggers for suicidal thoughts.

@PsychiatrySHO asked on Twitter, “What advice would you give a new psychiatrist?” He got a variety of responses, and has put the highlights on his blog and on Storify. Here are some of my favourites.


sometimes you will get it wrong, everyone makes mistakes but its what you do with that mistake.. Barriers or bridges.

Continue to be yourself.

emotional intelligence is more useful than factual knowledge in nearly every imaginable clinical situation

Your case is someone’s life. You’re the expert on mental health, they’re the expert on *their* mental health.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

Never forget patients usually want & need autonomy and consent in treatment. Mostly they know what’s best for them.

mh profs (especially psychiatrists) hold tremendous power over pple’s lives: try not to forget what this means for ppl u see

the GP is your friend, not your enemy

Build a good relationship with the multi-disciplinary team (especially the nurses cos we guard the biscuit supply).” [Declared interest: that was one was from me]

reality is diagnosis isn’t sufficient. My advice, think beyond meds, CBT, NHS. Think about this life you see.

ignore the psychology vs psychiatry thing – it’s not either or and better for patients when all professionals work together

On the Mind blog, Tracey Pallett describes her experiences of applying for disabled students allowance.

There is some advice I would give to prospective students at university; your university has more than likely had all different types of mental illness pass through their doors.  I’m sure they would help you as much as they can if you ask them for the help.  Also, as soon as you firm your offer through UCAS and you get the DSA form – fill it in.  Don’t wait like I did.  Get the help and support set up for when you start the degree.

Finally, good luck.  It’s an adventure that you will love.

At the International Bipolar Federation, there’s a great recovery-oriented blog from @BipolarBlogger on the subject of celebrating survival.

I feel as if I have survived something huge, and I suppose I have. Three years represents about fourteen per cent of my adult life, and the crises were very distressing. I lost my career of almost a decade, and I still have unresolved feelings of loss about that. Some friends have advised against the reviewing traumatic things, but I know I am changed by the episode and I feel a need to make some sense of it all. Some changes have been for the good. Having experienced a wider range of symptoms and treatments has given me a broader understanding of mental health and that can only benefit my activism. I have learned that I really am more than my job role, that even when not working I am still an interesting and valuable person. And I have emerged with a completely new career in mental health training and consultancy, along with a thriving mental health blog and an almost complete bipolar memoir. It feels amazing to have my bipolar seen as an asset at work, rather than a hindrance.

I’d like to mark my recovery in some way, to celebrate my survival and acknowledge the magnitude of all I have been through. This is the point where many I know would choose a meaningful tattoo, but I’m too chicken for that. I’d love to throw a huge party to thank everyone who’s supported me, but so many of the friends I have made live at the other end of the country or even across an ocean or two. Someone suggested a meaningful piece of jewelry and I like that idea, but I just can’t find anything that feels right.

On Twitter this week, @MarkOneinFour mentioned that his forthcoming app, Doc Ready, is progressing nicely. This will be a free app to help 16-25 year olds prepare for a GP appointment to discuss their mental health. There’s some previews on the website, and it’s looking pretty good. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Mental Health Cop has shelled out 20 quid to read the Royal College of Psychiatry’s new publication on ‘The Prevention and Management of Violence’. From his review, it looks like he didn’t get his money’s worth.

My summary is that this all too casually assumes what the police do and what they can do, officers’ responsibilities appearing to have been considered with insufficient precision to foster a real understanding of the legal mechanisms that are available to get things done.  It assumes that the presence of the police will always be factor that mitigates risk, whereas those of us working this area know we can quite easily ignite latent risks at the cost of criminalising people, as mental health charities often point out.  Some patients suffer paranoid delusions about what the police are up to and even the best, most patient officers are still standing there in a uniform wearing handcuffs and quite possibly a taser implying “or else” which all rather makes a mockery of “least restrictive principles” when not properly considered.

Neuroskeptic has noticed the rapid rise in autism diagnoses over the last few years, and wonders whether we will reach “peak autism“.

Such expansion can’t continue forever. Autism research must either to reach a plateau, a gradual rate of increase more in line with the growth of science as a whole  (4% per year) – or it will decline.

Does all of this 21st century autism boom reflect healthy growth that will be sustained? Or has it become a ‘bubble’, success driven by success – a ‘bandwagon’ onto which researchers are attracted by the fact that it is going impressively fast?

This issue is perhaps not unrelated to the question of whether diagnosed rates of autism are rising because the disorder is getting more common, or because of cultural changes in diagnostic practice.

Here’s a very sad story from Spain. Austerity there has led to an increase in suicide rates.

Nine Spaniards kill themselves every day and for every suicide there are 20 failed attempts. In 2010 there were 3,145, more than those killed in traffic accidents. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of people killing themselves after having their homes repossessed by the banks. According to the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages), there have been 400,000 evictions since the financial crisis began in 2007. Last year, in response to the rise in suicides, Spain’s banking association said it would freeze evictions in cases of extreme hardship. Households with a combined income of less than €1,597 have since been offered a two-year moratorium.

This isn’t a problem confined to Spain. Suicide rates in the UK are on the up after years of decline. I doubt the reasons are any particular mystery. Mental health services are being cut at the same time as people’s lives are under more strain due to declining living standards. The human cost of the Credit Crunch.

Time for the Wildcard. Blogsession asked 1000 Americans to name a UK city other than London. Here’s the result:

  1. Liverpool (15% of respondents answered ‘Liverpool’)
  2. Manchester (12%)
  3. Leeds (4.7%)
  4. Cambridge (3.7%)
  5. Bristol (3.6%)
  6. Wales (3.6%)
  7. Oxford (3.0%)
  8. Birmingham (2.4%)
  9. Bath (2.3%)
  10. Paris (1.9%) – Yes, Paris

Thanks to those 3.6% of Americans who gave a shout-out to my home “city” of Wales.

Do please add your thoughts to this post requesting feedback about the future of this website. In the meantime, I’m off to stick a Union Jack on the top of the Eiffel Tower.



About Phil Dore

Trained as a nurse, currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). All views expressed are in a personal capacity and not necessarily the views of my employer.

3 Responses to “This Week in Mentalists – Becoming Bourgeois Edition”

  1. Dear Neuroskeptic is a bit slow off the blocks.. I investigated peak autism some years ago and came to this conclusion.

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato.

    What a good student of Socrates, he was:)

  2. Thanks for the mention of Doc Ready. Just to mention that the app is now live as a finished product and we’re looking for feedback. Head to for details!

  3. Interesting posts. I laughed at the wildcard.


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