For my Brothers in Arms

Posted on behalf of a Wathwood Hospital  Patient

It’s a sad state of affairs when Britain’s Avant Garde psychiatric hospital (awarded top RSU for the last 4 years by the Peer Review Body of the CQC, I believe), does not have the courage to address the stigma that surrounds forensic mental health patients.

How can I say this about a hospital that has treated me so well and has well treated me, a hospital that has outstanding facilities and opportunities, a hospital that many say is peerless: Wathwood Hospital.  The fact is that this country of ours, Great Britain, is riddled with fear from top to bottom.  From the PM to the nursing assistant.  Fear of the media.  Fear of the media perspective, and how the media will portray what they deem to be newsworthy.  And despite the growing positive coverage of mental health issues, it is not Jeremy Hunt MP, the Health Secretary (who is fighting without much support for a seven day NHS where your chances of survival are not diminished if you fall sick at the weekend), nor the medical doctors (whose Hippocratic Oath swears that, first, they will do no harm – unless it’s a strike day, that is),  Nor is it the NHS managers that, ultimately, decide upon the quality of healthcare given to people with mental illness.  As for the mentally ill that have committed a crime whist ill, it is not even the Ministry of Justice, under Michael Gove, MP, the Justice Secretary (whom I have personally seen, in the flesh, give a speech which I believe was genuine sentiment saying that everyone deserves a second chance, the chance to be rehabilitated) whom decide their fate.  No, it is the media.  I say this because all the way through British society’s hierarchical fabric, people’s ignorance is exacerbated by fear.  Fear which is cultivated by the media.  And it is this fear that is the driving force behind policy production and implementation at Wathwood, not, the welfare of the mentally ill, in both the short term and the long term.  “Fear is the mind killer” according to Adam Freeland, and as such, intelligent debate and progressive thinking are almost absent in today’s Britain.  Rebekah Brookes of News of the World infamy was a regular guest of the PM at Chequers, for God’s sake – whilst half the population were reading gossip (I mean news) about celebrities and psychotic killers, to titillate their pieties, and entertain their morbid curiosities.  The other half of the population were having their lives ruled by MP’s and civil servants who are doing as they’re told to do by the powerful media moguls (rich from newspaper sales paid for by the population that reads the pious gossip) which then affects everyone WAKE UP!

The effect of this, especially in psychiatry, even frontier psychiatry, is a “cover my ass” mission statement to all levels.  “Oh, we can’t do that – what will the media say? A consequence of this is that you (or someone you care about) will have your dignity, your freedom, your pride, your ambition, your intelligence, your stature as an equal, removed on a daily basis, if you are sectioned under the Mental Health Act as more and more people are.

As good as Wathwood is, and it is the best in my opinion, this is not good enough. I would like to put forward a formula which I’d to call the “Wathwood Formulae”.

Stigma = Ignorance x Fear


That one’s for the scientist’s.

Stigma = Scary Stories x Media Output


That one’s for the Creatives.

Either way you take the formulae, you get the same stigma.  Stigma surrounding mental illness is decreasing as the length of history increases.  But in my opinion (hence the article) we need to accelerate the reduction in stigma surrounding mental illness.  How? Well, by reducing ignorance, reducing fear, reducing scary stories about the mentally ill being put out to the media, increasing intelligent discussion, increasing compassion and “normalising” treatment of the mentally ill.

What do I mean by “normalising” treatment of the mentally ill? I mean finding out from individuals what their perception of “normal” is, them helping them to achieve this “normal”.  I mean treating the mentally ill as “normal” people.  I mean being “normal” around people with mental illness.  Because, after all, we come into contact with “normal” people every day, and some of those “normal” people will have a mental illness. For some of these “normal” people, their mental illness may be short lived (like having a broken bone) and some “normal” people may have a prolonged illness (like having diabetes), either way it can, and should, be treated without prejudice, without false preconceptions, with compassion and collaboratively.

Now, to me, all that I have written makes perfect sense and is pretty obvious.  But then I’m mentally ill.  A normal bloke, with a serious long term physical illness (diabetes), and a serious long term mental illness (Schizophrenia).  Both treated with medication, but that’s where the similarity in treatment ends.  Why? Because one illness is physical, and the other is mental.  This has to change.



Wathwood Hospital – Alison & Steve Volunteers making a difference

Wathwood Hospital is a 56 bedded medium secure unit located in an area of natural beauty in Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire. It helps people who require assessment and treatment of mental health difficulties in a secure environment. The hospital offers structured therapy with a diverse range of sporting, leisure and educational activities.

Volunteers at Rosewood Involvement Centre Ollerton are often asked to take part in staff interviews. One individual has recently been part of a patient panel of interviewee’s at Wathwood Hospital for staff vacancies.  The Interviews were held over 2 days at Wathwood Hospital and comprised of a professional and patient panel.

The patient panel was chaired by Alison, a Service User/Carer/Volunteer from Rosewood Involvement Centre along with a representative from Advocacy and one patient from Wathwood Hospital plus a Rosewood Centre volunteer to shadow and learn from the whole process.

August will see Wathwood Hospital hosting Involvement Interview Training (IIT) which gives patient’s opportunities to get involved in recruiting new staff for the hospital.

At the Rosewood Centre a display  of produce including jams, chutney’s and honey from the Wathwood shop is available. It helps to raise cash for the benefit of patients and Wathwood Hospital. Volunteers, visitors and staff enjoy the selection of food produced by staff and patients working together.

Other news from Wathwood. This month, Stephen will shadow Alison at Wathwood Hospital and attend the Wathwood Patient Council meeting.

Rosewood has a very good rapport with Wathwood Hospital involving volunteers, staff and patients built up over many years. We want to continue this partnership and build our involvement even further. Changing services and making improvements due to this positive partnership is our main drive and one we really enjoy.

Many thanks to all the wonderful staff & patients at Wathwood Hospital from the Rosewood Involvement Centre.

Wathwood - Changes Made