Engage Aotearoa

Category Archives: Service-user Movement

New study highlights stories of successful withdrawal

My latest paper has just been published in the open access journal, Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, as part of their special collection on discontinuing psychotropic medication.

You can read the full text free here: Service-user efforts to maintain their wellbeing during and after successful withdrawal from antipsychotic medication (Larsen-Barr and Seymour, 2021).

Abstract

Background: It is well-known that attempting antipsychotic withdrawal can be a fraught process, with a high risk of relapse that often leads people to resume the medication. Nonetheless, there is a group of people who appear to be able to discontinue successfully. Relatively little is known about how people do this.

Methods: A convenience sample of adults who had stopped taking antipsychotic medication for more than a year were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews through an anonymous online survey that investigated antipsychotic medication experiences in New Zealand. Thematic analysis explored participant descriptions of their efforts to maintain their wellbeing during and after the withdrawal process.

Results: Of the seven women who volunteered to participate, six reported bipolar disorder diagnoses and one reported diagnoses of obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. The women reported successfully discontinuing antipsychotics for 1.25–25 years; six followed a gradual withdrawal method and had support to prepare for and manage this. Participants defined wellbeing in terms of their ability to manage the impact of any difficulties faced rather than their ability to prevent them entirely, and saw this as something that evolved over time. They described managing the process and maintaining their wellbeing afterwards by ‘understanding myself and my needs’, ‘finding what works for me’ and ‘connecting with support’. Sub-themes expand on the way in which they did this. For example, ‘finding what works for me’ included using a tool-box of strategies to flexibly meet their needs, practicing acceptance, drawing on persistence and curiosity and creating positive life experiences.

Conclusion: This is a small, qualitative study and results should be interpreted with caution. This sample shows it is possible for people who experience mania and psychosis to successfully discontinue antipsychotics and safely manage the impact of any symptoms that emerge as a result of the withdrawal process or other life stressors that arise afterwards. Findings suggest internal resources and systemic factors play a role in the outcomes observed among people who attempt to stop taking antipsychotics and a preoccupation with avoiding relapse may be counterproductive to these efforts. Professionals can play a valuable role in facilitating change.

Learning To Cope And Thrive Through Psychiatric Medication Withdrawal

Will Hall is offering a free online workshop called Learning to Cope and Thrive through Psychiatric Medication Withdrawal on Friday the 5th of February at 8-9:30 am NZ time. Register on EventBrite at the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/learning-to-cope-and-thrive-through-psychiatric-medication-withdrawal-tickets-135165097445

Will Hall is a counselor and advocate whose work and learning arose from his experiences of recovery from madness. He holds a Diploma and Masters Degree in Process Work from the Process Work Institute, and studies over the years have included training with Jaakko Seikkula and colleagues in Open Dialogue at the Institute for Dialogic Practice, and the WRAP facilitators’ training. He was a co-author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming of Psychiatric Drugs with the Icarus Project and is currently a PhD candidate at Maastricht University Medical Center – School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, supervised by Dr. Jim van Os doing research into alternatives to psychiatric medications.

Alyssa’s Autism Acceptance Project

I recently discovered Alyssa’s Autism Acceptance Project online in a blog post by the project creator herself, Alyssa Bolger and her brother Lachlan, two teenagers on the autism spectrum on a mission to change their little corner of the world for the better. They are based in Australia but I found their story really inspiring and think you will too. I love solutions created by the people they are designed to serve. Insider knowledge is a special thing and it always seems a bit like finding treasure when I come across something like this. As a clinician, research is one thing, but it’s never quite as powerful as knowing real life examples of people doing well and what it’s been like for them. There’s a term for this, ‘the power of positive contact’ and it’s a key ingredient for creating accepting communities. This project has that in spades. You can find Alyssa’s Autism Acceptance Project and follow her family’s journey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheAAAProject/

Alyssa and Lachlan’s article on Reframing Autism gives us a real life example that totally busts the common myth that people on the autism spectrum aren’t interested in friendship and shines the light on the barriers that get in the way. All humans need friendship including people on the autism spectrum.

Alyssa and Lachlan write, “My name is Alyssa, and my younger brother is called Lachlan. We are both proud autistic teenagers and we are writing this post together (with a little help from our autistic parents), because we want everyone to know how important friendship is to us, as we know there are Neurotypicals out there who think autistic people don’t care about having friends.”

They go on to explain, “Lachlan and I have learned that making friends is all about having something in common. That’s why we started our Lego club called BrickTime a few years ago. It’s a safe place that’s seen lots of friendships, because of a common love of Lego. Some of the Lego builds have been amazing! We were even going to organise an exhibition to show off these builds, but COVID-19 put a stop to that. Hopefully, we’ll get to do it one day.

Along with BrickTime, the other thing we do as the AAA Project is travel to schools to talk to kids about autism. We started doing this because of a message that I received while I was the Telethon kid back in 2015. A young autistic girl (who was so happy to discover that she wasn’t the only autistic girl through seeing me on TV) sent a message to ask if I would be her friend. She said she didn’t have any friends in her small country town, because nobody ‘got her’. I would have loved to have been her friend but, unfortunately, I had no contact details for her (and I didn’t even know her name). So, we set off travelling around WA, in the hope that we might find her. We talked to kids from schools as far south as Albany and as far north as Kununurra. Lachlan and Dad did all the behind-the-scenes tech stuff, and Mum and I did the presentation.”

Read the full story here: Building Friendships Brick by Brick, by Alyssa and Lachlan Bolger on the Reframing Autism website.

Town Hall Series on Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

Mad in America has teamed up with the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry to share a series of live ‘Town Hall’ discussions exploring what we do and don’t know about safe withdrawal from antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and stimulants.

The first event in the series was aired on the 15th of January (GMT) and if you didn’t get a chance to tune into the live stream you can find the video on Youtube at the link below.


Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal Town Hall 1 – Introducing the Series
https://youtu.be/Pj-mLG7tYi4

New programmes added to The Wellbeing Sessions

Whakatau Mai: The Wellbeing Sessions are a series of free online groups funded by the Ministry of Health as part of the national Covid19 response. They were started during the first Lockdown by the good folks over at Changing Minds who have curated a weekly calendar of zoom sessions that anyone with an internet connection and a device can join.

You’ll find regular sessions covering things like mindfulness, journaling, yoga, The Mind Tribe’s safe tapering group, and the recently added Realities Group, which I am really excited to see up and running, plus a bunch of one-off sessions like the upcoming Food & Mood session on February 4th.

The Realities Group
An opportunity for people who experience other realities to discuss their experiences and gain support, with the aim of better understanding these experiences and how to live well with them.  Based on the principles of the Hearing Voices Movement.
https://wellbeingsessions.eventcalendarapp.com/u/22079/91766

The Wellbeing Sessions will run through to the end of February 2021. Here’s a little recommendation Rachel Hunter shared from managed isolation.

The ‘patient voice’ on antidepressant withdrawal effects

A new qualitative study exploring antidepressant withdrawal effects and prescribing experiences was published in November which is well worth a read. In this paper, Anne Guy and co-authors outline the results of a qualitative study of 158 people who gave descriptions of their experience of psychotropic medication withdrawal for petitions sent to British parliaments. 

“The themes identified include: a lack of information given to patients about the risk of antidepressant withdrawal; doctors failing to recognise the symptoms of withdrawal; doctors being poorly informed about the best method of tapering prescribed medications; patients being diagnosed with relapse of the underlying condition or medical illnesses other than withdrawal; patients seeking advice outside of mainstream healthcare, including from online forums; and significant effects on functioning for those experiencing withdrawal.”

There are a few links to prescriber resources in among the references that might be useful to explore.

Read the full open-access article here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2045125320967183

Guy, A., Brown, M., Lewis, S., et al, (2020). The ‘patient voice’: patients who experience antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are often dismissed, or misdiagnosed with relapse, or a new medical condition. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 10, DOI: 10.1177/2045125320967183

Clinicians share their lived experience: In Conversation episodes 1-5

The In Conversation Series from In2GreatMentalHealth invites mental health professionals to share their lived experience to help reduce the stigma associated with mental-health difficulties in our communities and within the mental-health workforce.

Scroll down for episodes 1-5.
I’ve gathered together episodes 6-11 for you here.
Watch the full series on In2Gr8’s Youtube channel here.

Episode One: Clinical psychologists Dr Natalie Kemp and Dr Anna Sicilia introduce the series and talk about their lived experience and stigma in the mental heath scene.

Episode Two: Professor Patrick Corrigan in conversation with Dr Natalie Kemp about his lived experience and how things have shifted over the years.

Episode Three: Clinical psychologist Dr Nneamaka Ekebuisi talks about their lived experience of mental health difficulties and intersectional issues.

Episode Four: Mental health nurse Kate Snewin speaks about her lived experience of mental health difficulties and the impact of work culture on navigating this.

Episode Five: Dr Thomas Richardson talking to Dr Natalie Kemp about his experience of navigating lived experience of bipolar disorder as a clinical psychologist.


Clinicians share their lived experience: In Conversation episodes 6 – 11

In Conversation is a series of interviews with mental-health clinicians who have their own lived experience of struggling with their mental health from In2Gr8 Mental Health in the UK. The first five episodes feature Dr Natalie Kemp in conversation with Dr Anna Sicilia, Professor Patick Corrigan (clin psych), Dr Nneamaka Ekebuisi (clin psych), Kate Snewin (RMN), and Dr Thomas Richardson (clin psych).

Scroll down for episodes 6-11.

Episode Six: Dr Stephen Linacre, clinical psychologist, talks about his lived experience of significant eating difficulties and the professional work he does now in this area.

Episode Seven: Dr Inke Schreiber, clinical psychologist talks with Natalie Kemp about her lived experience of mental health difficulties.


Episode eight: Dr Rufus May, clinical psychologist talks about his lived experience of mental health difficulties and working in the mental-health sector.

Episode Nine: Michelle Jamieson, PhD candidate, speaks about her lived experience of mental health difficulties and issues of intersectionality.

Episode Ten: Professor Jamie Hacker-Hughes talks about his lived experience of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and working for many years professionally in the mental health scene.

Episode Eleven: Emily-May Barlow, Mental Health Nurse and academic, talks about her lived experience of mental health difficulties, in particular, of dissociation.

British Psychological Society releases position statement on psychologists with lived experience

The British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology released a position statement on clinical psychologists with lived experience of mental health difficulties on the 19th of August.

The document opens by stating, “The Division of Clinical Psychology publicly recognises and supports the unique and valued contribution that lived experience of mental health difficulties brings to individuals working within clinical psychology.”

It goes on to recognise how many therapists with lived experience there are among the profession, the diversity of these experiences, the complexity involved in making decisions to disclose these experiences, the impact of stigma, and the value these experiences bring to the work and the field as a whole.

They close by writing, “Overall, this statement wishes to make clear that lived experience of mental health difficulties does not have to be a barrier to training or practising as a clinical psychologist. On the contrary, people with lived experience are an asset to the profession and make a significant contribution to it”.

As a therapist with lived experience myself, it is a wonderful thing to see these points written down by such a well respected group. I look forward to the day that the professional bodies here in New Zealand take similar steps. I am incredibly grateful to the good folks at In2Gr8 Mental Health for the hand they had in making this a reality.

Read the full position statement here www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/statement-clinical-psychologists-lived-experience-mental-health-difficulties


Support group for people with experience of bipolar disorder

The Bipolar Support Group at DRIVE is run by and for people with lived experience of bipolar disorder in the Counties Manukau area. The group meets on the first Friday of every month at DRIVE Consumer Direction in Manukau to share challenges, offer support, and gather strength and hope. New members are welcome. At this stage this group will run until April 2021. More information can be found on the official Facebook Event Page here:https://tinyurl.com/y9rhd46k

For more information ring DRIVE on 09 263 6508 and leave a message.
Text 021 921 738 or email counties.bipolar@gmail.com