Engage Aotearoa

Engage Update: Slowly coming out of hibernation

It’s been two years since our last update, and though the Engage Facebook page remains active, we are still in the process of slowly coming out of hibernation. Please note that The Butterfly Diaries is now officially out of print for the time-being and we are unable to accept new orders. An e-book is on the horizon. We’ll update you when we have a timeline in mind. Our co-editor Michelle Bolton unfortunately passed away in June of 2016 and we are only just now beginning to think our way back into the project.

We’ve gone through a few transformations of our own since we last updated the Engage Aotearoa website. We couldn’t keep up with the demands of maintaining charitable status and a volunteer base when Miriam entered her doctoral studies and then began working full-time as a psychologist. We were so busy having governance meetings, we couldn’t get the actual work done. So we’ve abandoned the charitable structure and reverted back to our original independent, self-funded structure.

The website and many of the resources are well over-due for an update and that’s the first thing on our to-do list as we try to figure out what’s next for the Engage Aotearoa website. Now that we’ve got a doctor of clinical psychology in the house we might be able to see a little private practice tab in the menu options one of these days in the not-too-very-distant future. For the moment, we’re just going to keep the website alive and gradually update it.

A whole website of personal stories

We recently discovered Our Mental Story, a website dedicated to sharing the stories of people with lived experience of mental-health difficulties. We think it’s well worth a look. You won’t find stories categorised by diagnostic labels here though. Expect a list of titles like “I was crafty with my trouble making”, managing to save my ten sick days a year is an annual challenge”, “Have you ever experienced that deep tight feeling of not being able to breathe” and “everyone wants to fix me with a quick solution.” The site was created by Charlotte-Rose Ruddell and Liv Young began in 2016.

Find more here… 

www.ourmentalstory.com/

The Latest from the British Psychological Society

In case you missed it, on the 1st of February the Division of Clinical Psychology at the British Psychological Society published a new report that presents a different way of looking at mental-health problems,  The Power Threat Meaning Framework.

The announcement explains, “A group of senior psychologists (Lucy Johnstone, Mary Boyle, John Cromby, David Harper, Peter Kinderman, David Pilgrim and John Read) and high profile service user campaigners (Jacqui Dillon and Eleanor Longden) spent five years developing the Power Threat Meaning Framework as an alternative to more traditional models based on psychiatric diagnosis. They were supported by researcher Kate Allsopp, by a consultancy group of service users/carers, and by many people who supplied examples of good practice that is not based on diagnosis.”

You can read the full Power Threat Meaning Framework or a shorter overview.

Find the original announcement here.

People’s Review of the Mental Health System

Share your story and help create a better mental-health system.

The people at Action Station have teamed up with Kyle MacDonald to create a People’s Review of the Mental-Health System. They want to gather together as many personal stories as possible, to convince our politicians of the need for improvements.

Their question to you is simple: what has your experience of the public mental health system been?

The public invitation goes on to say “Everyone has a story about mental health in New Zealand. Whether you work as a mental health professional, have experienced the mental health system directly yourself or someone in your family has, your story matters. We don’t need more statistics, the numbers already add up to make it clear that we have a crisis and need urgent action, and still nothing has been done. But personal stories can do what numbers cannot – they can move Ministers to action. Stories create empathy, and empathy creates change.

Find out more here.

The efficacy of a text messaging intervention for anxiety and depression among young people

One of Engage Aotearoa’s recovery resources, the Small Victories challenge, was included in the pilot of a text-messaging programme for young people with depression and anxiety at Youthline. The results of the evaluation were published last year in the Children and Youth Services Review.

Abstract
Background: Depression and anxiety are among the most commonly experienced mental health issues faced by young people in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Considerable barriers exist that prevent young people from engaging with face-to-face mental health services. Young people’s preference for technology-based counselling mediums such as text messaging opens up new pathways for intervention. Objective: A pilot text message-based intervention package was trialed for use by young people to evaluate the potential efficacy of the text package as an intervention for depression and anxiety symptoms.
Method: The text package was piloted using a 10-week longitudinal cohort pilot with 21 young participants (12– 24 years) who demonstrated mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression symptoms.
Results: Participants’ post-package scores were significantly lower than their pre-package scores for both anxiety (Z = −2.83, p = .005, r = −0.65) and depression (Z = −2.49, p = .013, r = −.056). ‘Feeling encouraged and supported’ increased as a result of receiving support from a trained supporter (Z = −2.06, p = .039, r = −0.45), but not from friends/family (Z = −1.72, p = .130, r = −0.37). Anxiety and depression scores did not change as a result of support from either trained supporters or friends/family.
Conclusions: Findings support the potential efficacy of the text package, justify wider trials of the text package, and support the use of text message-based interventions as potentially effective therapies for young people.

Read the full-text article by David Anstiss and Amber Davies here.

New Research Articles in Psychosis Journal

New articles available in Psychosis are online now on Taylor & Francis Online:

A qualitative study of refugees with psychotic symptoms
J.E. Rhodes, N.S. Parrett & O.J. Mason
DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1045547

Does childhood bullying lead to the development of psychotic symptoms? A meta-analysis and review of prospective studies
Twylla Cunningham, Katrina Hoy & Ciaran Shannon
DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1053969

Tales from the madhouse: an insider critique of psychiatric services
William Park
DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1055784

Psychological approaches to understanding and treating auditory hallucinations: From theory to therapy
Lony Schiltz
DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1049199

Together we stand in the bottomless pit – When trauma hits the therapeutic dyad
Y. Spinzy & G. Cohen-Rappaport
DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1052007

On Track: Knowing where we are going

More than 200 people from across the mental health and addiction sector and the wider health and social sectors have contributed to a report, co-published by Te Pou and Platform Trust, that aims to prepare NGO mental health and AOD services for “the next round of reform”.

“On Track: Knowing where we are going outlines the wide range of issues that need to be considered and addressed to improve health outcomes for people using services, their whānau and local communities, and to ensure the future capability of the mental health and addiction workforce”.

Mental Health Foundation Launches Mindfulness Posters

The Mental Health Foundation’s graphic designer Amy Mackinnon has created a series of posters that share the basic practices behind mindfulness. The A2 posters are available in a set of three from the Mental Health Foundation’s new webstore for $39 including postage and packaging.

Each sale is equivalent to the cost of one child in a low decile NZ school attending the Mental Health Foundation’s Pause, Breathe, Smile  eight-week mindfulness course. By purchasing these posters, you’re supporting the Mental Health Foundation to deliver mindfulness training to primary and intermediate students in their school classrooms nationwide.

Teen Recovery Website: By Youth for Youth

A young woman in Wellington with lived experience of recovery has created a website to help other teens on their road to recovery from mental-health issues. Verity, the creator of the site, writes “It started off just being a resource for my friends at the unit to use. I had posted the link to my Facebook and as the months went by, Teen Recovery …[was] noticed by organizations such as Youthline and Live For Tomorrow.

At Teen Recovery, young people can find out about recovery strategies like distractions and breathing techniques, learn more about things like anxiety attacks, self-care after self-harm and finding reasons to stay alive, and read recovery stories or share a recovery story themselves. There’s an FAQ page that answers some of the common questions young people might have about recovery. There’s a Support Services link that lists all the nationwide helplines and a Websites link that lists a bunch of useful websites.

The Teen Recovery website also recommends other young people connect with their public Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) if they would like more support. Every DHB has a CAMHS, though some services go by different names. If you search online for ‘CAMHS’ and the region you live in, you should be able to find the service nearest to you. Each service has different referral pathways – at some, young people and their families can self-refer for a first appointment; at other services, you may need to see your GP or School Guidance Counsellor to arrange a referral for a first appointment at your local CAMHS. You can always give the service a call to find out if you aren’t sure.

Visit Teen Recovery and explore for more info

Engage Consideration: Dutch initiative challenges mainstream thinking about psychosis

This post highlights a relatively new Dutch initiative that works to promote a helpful way of thinking about experiences of psychosis. The team at Engage Aotearoa recently stumbled across it on Facebook and thought it was full of information others might like to consider – either in their own recovery or in their efforts to support others seeking recovery.

Jim van Os and others have created a website, manifesto and set of audio-visual ‘explanimations’ to help people understand psychotic experiences in a way that allows for meaning-making and hope for recovery.

Much of the website is in Dutch, but an English-language version of the core resources on the “Schizophrenia Doesn’t Exist” website is available. It’s a provocative title, but the project creators do not mean to say that extreme experiences like hallucinations and delusions do not exist.

If you are not much for reading, you can watch Jim van Os’s TED Talk and get it all in a 15-minute nutshell or explore the 2-minute ‘explanimations‘ about psychosis and recovery on the website.

Visit the Schizophrenia Doesn’t Exist English-language webpage to find everything in one place. 

The Manifesto outlines “14 Principles for Good Care of Psychosis”. The first 7 principles address current thinking that frames psychosis as a brain disorder called schizophrenia and set out evidence for an alternative – Psychosis Spectrum Syndrome or PSS. The final 7 principles set out a vision for recovery-based practice, these state…

“8: To recover from PSS, a person must be offered hope and perspective from the very first moment. Recovery is a psychological process. It is a process of learning to adapt and develop a new perspective. With support from people with lived experience of psychosis and, where necessary, from doctors and therapists who support the process of recovery.

9: Every person with PSS should have access to a person with lived experience of psychosis from the earliest phase of treatment. A person with lived experience is in a unique position to offer perspective and hope (‘I was able to recover as well’).

10: The primary goal of treatment is return to the person’s environment, education and/or work. Education and work are prerequisites for recovery: even if residual symptoms remain, people can start picking up where they left off. The practice to wait for full recovery is counterproductive.

11: Anyone who enters the mental health system with PSS should be encouraged to talk about their psychosis. The content of the psychosis should be seen as meaningful, and may represent the key to underlying issues.

12: Psycho-education should not introduce an unproven biomedical model of brain disease as a central theme.

13: Anyone who suffers from psychosis should have access to psychotherapy by an experienced therapist.

14: Antipsychotics may be necessary to reduce psychosis but do not correct an underlying biological abnormality. Antipsychotics are no cure. Much more attention is required for individual dose optimisation to reach the lowest possible dose and to avoid irrational polypharmacy.

Schizophrenia does not exist, which is a good thing.
Because much can be done about PSS.”

~ Quoted from, Manifesto: 14 Principles for Good Care of Psychosis. Schizophrenia Does Not Exist website, 12 July 2015.