PLUS welcomes new patron, Ajay Close

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PLUS recently held a small gathering in the AK Bell Library café to welcome our new patron Ajay Close. The evening reception was attended by around 25 PLUS members and the board of directors.

Reflecting on her work with PLUS members and her thoughts on being the new patron Ajay said:
“I ran a writers’ group for PLUS members for three years while I was Perth and Kinross writer in residence at the Soutar House. Through that group I met many talented, creative individuals who had been through difficult times but had so much to contribute.

“PLUS does an extremely worthwhile job, bringing people together and campaigning to break down barriers so they can make their voices heard. I am very proud to have been asked to be the first PLUS patron.”

Ajay Close is a Perth-based novelist and dramatist, author of five novels and three plays. Her work has been longlisted for the Orange and Walter Scott prizes. Her first career was in journalism, where she won many awards.

Patrons are people ‘of note’ who are prepared to support particular causes. They will be positive role models, encouraging others to support the charity not least on the basis that “if they support this charity then I want to too”.

“A Disorder for Everyone!” – Exploring the culture of psychiatric diagnosis, creating change.

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With Dr Lucy Johnstone, Jo Watson & Jo McFarlane

This one day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event is for everyone who is interested in the current debates around mental health. It aims to attract psychologists, counsellors, service users, psychotherapists, mental health support professionals, psychiatrists, people with lived experience, managers and individuals with a personal interest.

Facilitated by Dr Lucy Johnstone, Jo Watson & Jo McFarlane. It is a chance to discuss the critical questions of the day around the biomedical model in mental health.


Visit the eventbrite page for further details.

A Traveller’s Tale

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I came to PLUSPerth in June 2013, when I was going through a period
of confusion in my life, not knowing what I wanted to do or in what
direction I wanted to go.

I started to volunteer at the garden project (Horner’s Plot) which
was in its infancy, as it gave me something to do and a sense of
involvement. As the project grew, there was the opportunity to
become employed as a part-time project worker, and at the same
time I was able to undertake training as a WRAP workshop facilitator
– I had previously participated in WRAP sessions as a means of
looking after my own mental health and wellbeing, and found it to
be of enormous benefit.

Due to the success of the garden, PLUS was awarded funding
to expand the project to create further city centre green spaces
providing meaningful activities for those who were perhaps feeling
socially isolated or simply wanted to do a bit of gardening, and I was
able to take up a full-time position as a project worker.

It is largely thanks to PLUS – its vision, its staff and its volunteers, that I find myself in
a position to fulfil a long-held ambition to become a language teacher, using my skills
and interests for the benefit of learners in other countries.

I am off to Greece to train for a month, then will be back here for a couple of months
whilst I decide on the next step.

What is for sure, though, is that PLUS will always be a part of me, and I of PLUS.

Richard Ryan

Do We Really Need Mental Health Professionals?

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An interesting piece by Gary Sidley, PHD on madinamerica, popular
mental health blog site poses the question ‘Do We Really Need
Mental Health Professionals?’

This question is very relevant to us at a time when NHS Tayside is
redesigning their Adult Mental Health and Learning Disability
In- Patient Services. The closure of 3 General Adult Psychiatry units
including Murray Royal and a centralised unit at Carseview, Dundee
one of 4 options. Relevant because the rationale for this course of
action is due to “How can we maintain safe services as we don’t have
enough nurses and Dr’s on the ground”.

Perhaps the question to be asked first of all is ‘what are the best ways
to help people in mental distress’ and then get the answers and some
alternative suggestions from those people who have received mental
health care and treatment. People say they just need to be cared
about and listened to – more often than not they are having that need
met by the ward cleaner, student nurse and other people in the ward.
So maybe a different type of workforce using different skills – skills
needed for human development such as listening, understanding
and empowering are what is needed. The Soteria Houses approach
includes primarily non-medical staffing; preserving resident’s
personal power, social networks, and communal responsibilities;
finding meaning in the subjective experience of psychosis by “being
with” clients; and no or minimal use of antipsychotic medication. So
the question is ‘Do we really need mental Health professionals? We
would like to hear your view on this.

If anyone would like more information on the NHS redesign of
services contact PLUS and we can send you the most recent NHS
Tayside Update.