" Our lives begin to end when we remain silent about things that matter "

... Dr Martin Luther King

M ental I llness Concerns All carers

Hman beings are a forward looking upright animals.
That seems to be the basis evolutionary benefit of securing companionship.
A companion is someone who stands with you, covering your back ' in a fight ' and staying with you, who knows how to be your companion and beahve in particular circumstances.
[ Or perhaps the ability to secure companionship allowed for an upright and forward lookng stance. ? ]

In a collection of people you grow up discovering who is a dependable companion, or not, in a variety of cirumstances.
Staying within a grouping, the characteristics of reliable potential companions are those within the constraints with mores of the group, accepted by those through meeting each other regularly

These are recognisable by the spread of features, and practices, the group holds and shows in common

People who have different feature characteristics, and do not practice the behaviours traditional within the group are strangers to the group, and not yet trusted to be companions who know the common practice, know how the group expects to beahve, and are therefore trusted companions.

After a while of living in the group the strangers will or will not take on the practices in th group, or not.They will survive by accumulating their own groupings, staying in this new group and drawing strength from it.

Stigma - singling out somebody to worry abou and not accept , , comes from the recognition that by features and behaviour thse people are still strangers, and therefore not to be relied upon as temporary companions.

The work of those who want to be accepted is behave as do the group you have joined.
When that has been demonstrated for those who know you, there is less practical behaviour of stigma.People suffering from schizophrenia are marked out as different in so many ways, that there wil always be stigma there, unless the group within which they live see that the family of the sufferer are 'managing' the situation.

Those subject to stigma suffer neglect. Stigma stems from prejudice.

Prejudice stigmatises those who are different; when they are a minority, so cannot defend themselves being weak in power; when they are conspicuous and do not blend in; when they are near at hand to come across; and where they have a history of stigma.
Sufferers from schizophrenia and by association their families are in this category.
They are weak, cannot co-ordinate on their own, cannot and do not assert their right to their share of resource provision.
They are often visible as 'losers', they dress differently, behave oddly,
receiving poor and failed service [ their fault because that is by their choice to accept advice, provision of care - or not ]
and nobody is there, with the 'demi-fou', to stick up for them, in the front line.

Only afterwards -when a tragedy arrives

One way to oppose stigma is to give those victimised - strength. Normally this happens when those stigmatised get together and together are stronger. This does not happen where people ar affected by schizophrenia.
The very word is abolished.
Without the word, there is no way of examning the provison; no way of measuring - and shamimg - what is in fact delivered.

One way to strengthen the power of those stigmatised who cannot and do not organise and speak clearly, is to establish a Charity to speak up fore them, and be prepared to act for them through whatever tools to do that are available.

There are three such tools :-

1.The Freedom of Information Act to test the local provision by asking the right questions

2. Judicial Review

... a general outline of Judicial Review Judicial Review is available to people on Income Support through the assisted legal scheme. A case has to go to a regional assessor to decide whether funding will be allowed - usually in stages.

An example:- the Healthcare Commission has recently examined in-patient services . The National average bed occupancy is 87% - about the level where the Royal College of Psychiatrists agrees admission is safe and allows for deleiberated assessment of needs in aftercare, and allows for calm management in the admission wards

In Cornwall the admission Ward occupancy is at 100% and has reached 140%, with consequential 'hot bedding hurried 'sleeping out', discharges and transfers. [ The Partnership Board minutes don't say 'overcrowding', 100% plus occupied .... - no. they say problems with 'outliers' ?? """ - was there a man called George Orwell ?

Judical Review would be on the basis, that there is a legitimate expectation on the part of people liable to admission that such a state of affairs warrants emergency reaction for the Local Primary Care Trust who purchase service, and from the local Mental Health Trust which runs the secondary provision.

3. European Convention on Human Rights ? article 3.

'Users' are not likely to have the energy to go forward using these three assets , but a Charity in co-operation with a user receiving Income Support could do so.

At present none are prepared to 'go to law' on behalf of schizophrenai.

All talk and no walk.

Schizophreniawatch would like to become a Charity that could act on behalf of those affected by schizophrenia

Here is the media reporting on three tragedies which came to Court or an Inquest.

Family of man stabbed to death call decision to free killer with paranoid schizophrenia 'terrible mistake', Daily Mail, 2nd September 2008

The parents of a man stabbed to death by a paranoid schizophrenic said last night that it was a 'terrible mistake' to allow the killer to live in the community.

Landscape gardener Daniel Quelch, 34, suffered 82 knife wounds during a frenzied attack after Benjamin Frankum broke into his parents' bungalow.

Yesterday, a jury took less than an hour to find him responsible for the killing, after Judge Zoe Smith ruled he was unfit to be tried for murder. He was ordered to be detained in Broadmoor Hospital for an unlimited time. A full independent inquiry was announced as it emerged Frankum was assessed for detention under the Mental Health Act several weeks before the killing - but not found to be a danger to the public.

Frankum, 26, broke into the house near Maidenhead, Berkshire, last August, and stabbed Mr Quelch as he lay in bed beside his youngest son. Reading Crown Court heard Frankum had been in and out of hospital with mental illness. On one occasion in 2001, he was sectioned and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

However, because he had no history of violence or previous convictions, he was free to leave. In early 2007, he discharged himself from a hospital and moved into supported accommodation in Littlehampton, West Sussex, where he was living at the time of the attack.

But after failing to take his medication for a number of weeks, he killed landscape gardener Mr Quelch, who was asleep in bed with his two-year-old son.

In a statement, the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for Frankum's care, said: 'Mr Frankum was seen regularly by professional staff and was assessed for detention under the Mental Health Act several weeks before the incident, because of family concerns about his condition and his lifestyle.' It added: 'However there was not sufficient evidence of a risk to himself or others to detain him against his will.'

He told police he had been sent by MI5 to kill Mr Quelch.
A jury was asked to decide whether he was responsible for killing Mr Quelch following a trial at Reading Crown Court.

It took them just over an hour to convict him. Judge Smith said the killing was 'truly horrific' and sentenced Frankum to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act with an additional restriction order without limit of time.

Mr Quelch's family described the murder as 'the beginning of a nightmare that will never end'
and said after the case that they are now awaiting an independent inquiry which will look into the events that led to the tragedy.

Following the verdict, harrowing statements from Mr Quelch's parents, Ernest and Barbara, were read to the court in which they described how their son's death had devastated their lives. Mr Quelch, a builder from Maidenhead, Berkshire, said he had been unable to work and suffered severe depression since Frankum killed his son.

He said: 'Somebody let him out of hospital and he was free to walk the streets.
I would like to be sure he will never again be free to do to anyone else what he has done to us.'

His wife's statement, read to the judge, added

: 'A terrible mistake was made when Benjamin Frankum was released from care. 'He is clearly a danger to the public. I beg you to make sure he will never be released.' The jury had heard how Daniel Quelch was staying at his parents' house where his three children, aged eight, four and two, had been having a sleep-over party. Prosecutor Nigel Daly had said what happened was 'everybody's worst nightmare'. He said: 'Daniel Quelch was asleep in bed with his two-year-old son. Benjamin Frankum, a paranoid schizophrenic, came into his house. They did not know each other.

Frankum later admitted in police interview that he had stabbed Mr Quelch and tests later showed he had not been taking his medication.

Before killing Mr Quelch, Frankum had crashed his mother Diane King's Range Rover into a wall at her house near Maidenhead.
He then walked over to Mrs Quelch's house with the family dog, who was found at the scene of the crime, the court heard.
He later blamed the murder on a group of gangsters he claimed were following him around. Mr Quelch, from Spencers Wood, Reading, was a keen fisherman and a season ticket holder at Reading FC, often taking his children along to matches.

After the case his mother read a statement outside court in which she said the family had also lost their home of 26 years because they could not bring themselves to return following the murder.
The statement read: 'It has been a terrible year - just the beginning of a nightmare that will never end. Everything in our lives has been changed forever by this one brutal crime. 'The material losses are nothing compared to the misery of the loss of Danny himself and we would give all we have to have him back.
'Whilst we are pleased to see the end of the trial, for us it is only one step forward. 'Now we have an agonising wait for an independent inquiry which will be set up to look into the events which led to the terrible tragedy that took place on August 23 last year. 'We pray that it will ensure no other families will lose a loved one in this way.'

We want answers, rages father of 14-year-old girl raped at knifepoint by escaped mental patient, Daily Mail, 10th September 2008 The father of a 14-year-old girl raped by an escaped psychiatric patient has told of his fury over the case.

After Darren Harkin, 21, was jailed for attacking the teenager twice at knifepoint, her father demanded answers from the authorities.

He said: 'Who knows what he might have gone on to do if they had not caught him? 'No one seems able to give us any answers until an official report is finished. 'We need to know what went wrong and what is being done to make sure it doesn't happen again.' He said his daughter had been so traumatised she could not talk about her ordeal with her family. 'My daughter was too upset to tell us what had happened,' he said. 'She told a female police officer who relayed it to us. 'Even now she refuses to talk about the rape. She seems all right on the surface, but she's just blocking it all out.' He said he was proud of her for reporting the assault so that her attacker was caught immediately. 'We're pleased that Harkin pleaded guilty,' he added. 'I was worried a trial would bring all the memories flooding back.'

An official inquiry has been launched to look at why Harkin, who had been committed eight years ago for stabbing his baby brother to death, was being held in a low-security institution.

Staff at Hayes Hospital near Bristol were not allowed to be alone with Harkin because he was considered to be such a threat.

But he was allowed to keep a collection of pornography and horror films and was taken by staff to see violent films at the cinema.<

Harkin admitted rape, burglary and absconding from custody at Reading Crown Court on Monday. Recorder of Cardiff Judge Nicholas Cooke, QC, called him ' exceptionally dangerous', and ordered that he be detained indefinitely at the high-security Broadmoor Hospital.

He also added to demands for an inquiry, saying: 'How on earth could it be thought appropriate that someone who has murdered his brother be allowed to have access to horror films? 'How can it be that the alarm was not raised immediately after someone who has been identified as such a danger was allowed to escape? 'This is not the first time this has happened - I hope by now the Home Office should consider such things. This needs to be investigated.'

After the hearing Conservative MP David Davies said:
'I have spoken to the family of the victim many times and they are very angry with the way this case has been handled.
'What concerns me is that the police were not informed he was dangerous when he escaped. If someone is classed as highly dangerous then neighbouring police forces are alerted.

But I understand Harkin's status was on the verge of being downgraded at the time of his escape. The fault lies with the people who downgraded his dangerous status - the Home Office and the National Autistic Society, who run Hayes Hospital.'

Hill first showed signs of mental illness in the 1990s, when she was 17 and saw a child psychiatrist for anxiety. In 2000 she twice attempted suicide and throughout the year was prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.
In January 2003, shortly before Naomi was born, Hill was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and in April had a "hypermanic" [ hypomanic = one side of bipolar illness ] episode. Naomi was born 10 weeks premature in a "difficult" birth in June. Almost immediately Hill suffered puerperal depression, a severe form of postnatal depression.

She was treated by her local community health team; appearing to make a quick recovery, she was recommended for discharge from outpatient care in September.

On Boxing Day 2006 she had a severe relapse [ medication stopped ? ] and left the family home to be cared for by her parents.
But she recovered and went back to work part-time in March and then full-time a month later.
In June doctors decided there was no need for further involvement by the local mental health team and in August her case was closed, although she remained under the care of her GP and on several types of medication.
In November it was recorded that she was drinking heavily, increasing the risk of depression and the likelihood that she would stop taking her medicine.

Later that month she killed Naomi.

After the child's death North Wales NHS trust conducted an interim review looking at the care she had, and recommended improvements to policies.

A spokesman said yesterday these had been implemented. A full review is being completed under the control of Flintshire local safeguarding children board.

Alice Maynard, chair of Scope, said: "This case raises the wider issue of how many disabled parents still don't get the support they need in bringing up children and how society continues to portray disability in a negative light, creating shame and stigma around impairment. Tragically, in this instance, this combination of factors proved lethal."

Some hold 'stigma' stems from the fact that a Mental Health Section has been usedfir admission, so that 'informal' status removes the stigma. Professiona staff often prefer to achieve 'informal ' admission. [ see ] But it is the admission to the Secondary mental health hospital service as such that acquires 'stigma'. Sectioning does acquire more fears.

E-mail reaction is welcome ,,, click on davidwatch@btinternet.com

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