Friday, June 13, 2008

Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Serviceless Services For Partly Serviceless Self Harming Users

Well Done Emma Cooney

Its a strange paradox isn't it when you look at the Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health Trust Website and see its the "shining star" that helps youngsters who self harm only to find its own staff actually finally owning up to the need for a better service on the PM's petition site......

So come on you bad old UserWatch (we say) be generous and resolve this contradiction ....Okay then , we'll try in our split casso-istic cubed face way ...We love weird angles - bent spokes on wheels etc.... That does mean crippled bikes are actually crippled bikes and clowns should really fall off them and stop dressing up as business professionals though....

Here's a part then of the text from the Trust website :

"SASH is a Shining Star

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust has become one of the city’s Shining Stars for its work with young people who self-harm.

Birmingham City Council has awarded twelve 2007 Shining Stars, including one to BSMHT’s team at the Stratford Road Centre in Sparkhill. "

Then here's Emma Cooney's text on the PM petition site :

"There are practically no self harm support groups/advice that is accessible. If people were given more information and the correct information, then it may reduce stigmas and a person may be able to help or understand some issues that people with any mental health illness may be experiencing. I believe if more services operated and that were run outside of the Mental Health Trust ie, community workers or service users, may be useful. Also this would give people with direct experience to not only help but possibly train for paid work, thus getting people of sick benefit and into work that they feel at ease with. Self harm is deemed second level Psychology but very few psychologists are trained in this area and very few actually focus on self harm as a main issue or concern. Please listen as mental health is vastly growing in this country and unless sufficient targets and services are in place, it will only get worse. I work with many people who just do not receive the correct level of support and it is heart breaking when something can be done. I propose more services to be availible and possible hubs/cafes to be distriputed throughout the UK. "

Emma's text is genuine enough in heart but its simply not insightful enough about the Trust and the way it is forced to make savings (creating a lack of patient care) and spending priorities as well as turning out a 2 - 3 million surplus which makes it play at being a business that can make "surpluses" which it can invest as it wishes for "patient care" ...

So you see see although the Trust service for self harmers is a "Shining star" its actually inside a paradoxical mucky context of bad faith with patient need because it diverts public money away from genuine patient choices and their ability to recover in groups in the community along with patient choosing their therapists from any supply side rather than its boring metal mickeys with with cogntive behavioural therapy ears

Though you see the last thing staff can do is rigorously criticise the mishapen NHS they work for. The "omerta" code of silence is all . The Trust's praxis is to drive improvement via corporatised management style ... Bung in a few "patient experience groups".. This is ridiculous as patients evolve towards more sophistication but are sadly wearing Trust designed User Voice mufflers which helps their needs into hmmph hmmph-land...

Oh there are still countless meetings and User-involvement rituals but its the same old NHS which takes money away from the patient and creates meetings-cultures where no-one gets a life or therapy but where the large bureau colon munches away and has plenty of paper and wind ...

What it comes down to is serviceless-service-user-land.....Crisis patterns and admissions into wards are often driven by poor recovery choices and poor systems of support in the community - Emma can partly see that, but where is the money coming from to create better services in the community ? From the Trust and NHS ?

She also sees that current psychologists are inadequate ...That is the truth .. Too many have no real experience of deeper psychotherapy (into themselves too) and addressing damaged feeling states so the self cutting, self alienating, self punishing rituals of self harmers could return with proper emotional help to historically contextualised rage, hurt, and then mourning as people work through into recognising the terrible abuse they have come through and constantly symbolise out in their behaviour is their developmental background seeking a voice of pain with an altered desire for witness..

The antidote is "patient choice" partly but matched with a genuine supply of empathically skilled psychotherapists rather than objectifying psychologists...And the control on the quality of this must be patient groups initially ...Will it happen ? Of course not .

The vested interests create false over-specialisms driven by staff with high wages and that dynamic formed the Personality Disorder Units of the Henderson (London) and Main House (Birmingham) . We say "false" because we see a conflict with supply sides of deep and helpful psychotherapies and the way patient needs are driven into "speciality" by virtue of the NHS's insistence of pissing about with "therapy" and keeping it superficial and more lately "work-driven" on the advice of 19th century Victorian principles of deal with the past by blacking it out and working..

What has to become broadly available is a new skill of helping people recover their fuller feelings and deal with pain of serious emotional and other abuses without completely going mad and symbolic in their behaviour ....Yesss it a long job - but never started, it gets longer...

We note that Heather Bartlett a Trust staff member signed the petition . Good ...The code of self disempowerment and NHS omerta is perhaps altering for some . What we sense however also is half truths and half services and the missing "Patient Choice Culture " equation ...

"Team manager Heather Bartlett said: “We are targeting mainly young people because most self-harm starts around the age of 12 or 13. It is all preventative work that we do and we have found most of the people who want our help and support are aged 17 to 38. Some are currently in the system but others are new to the service”.

Heather added: “We are delighted that our project has been recognised by Birmingham City Council for its support service and we are the proud recipients of a crystal star”.

December 4 sees the launch of the SASH website – – where people will be able to find out about self-harming, what they can do about it, where they can go for help and links for relatives and carers.

Heather said: “The website is educational and signposts people to sources of advice and support, but we are also launching an online chatroom, where those who self-harm as well as concerned relatives, friends and carers can discuss their issues with other interested parties”.

Those who signed the petition so far (below)

Emma Cooney, the Petition Creator, joined by:

  • Tracey
  • Suzanne Cooney
  • david hartly
  • Tricia Roberts
  • C.J. Gardner
  • Paddy McGowan
  • Janice Ellis
  • natalie bardsley
  • Charlotte Maybury
  • susan coughlan
  • Louise Reardon
  • heather bartlett
  • daniel chatfield
  • Paul Brian Tovey Pro-User-Autonomy
  • joan johnson
  • Stephen Waters
  • sean Mullen
  • Kerri Cooney
  • Mervyn Morris



mandy lifeboats appeal said...

Hi there

Could you send me a link to the petition, please?



Anonymous said...


I feel I should defend myself, especially as I had no idea my name had been mentioned or used. I do not work full time for the trust I am partly paid to solely work with people who self harm, in particualr the SASH project. My petition is aimed at lacking services and not to lay blame at anyone ie the trust. Yes we know there are flaws but I also have to bare in mind that funding has to come from some where and I would rather keep people on side. I stand by my words and yes the trust could do alot more and personally speaking it can damage patients rather than helping. What I do know is that under this failing system there are dedicated staff, such as Heather Bartlett who is working hard to make changes and people like her should receive a mention, without her SASH would not be up and running. Yes Psychologists have little knowledge and my aim would be to provide more non clinical support routes such as the hubs or cafes, a normal settings to socially include people who self harm. I know funding is a major issue but there are people willing to help such as the PCT who have just funding a project for people who self harm that I am working on. I am producing ID cards for people to present at A&E, so as they do not have to tell the whole waiting area that they have self harmed, this causes much anxiety in patients and it may just help, anything is at least worth a try. These people do exsist and work hard. I value what I do and I may not be articulate at times but I wish to help people in any way that I can and I will keep trying new things until I find the right formula. Take care, Emma x

User-voice-rebel said...

We'll pass this onto others in the journalist worlds and reporting lurks and murks Emma . We are not the Trust you understand we are well outside of its influence and corporate control.

NO need to defend yourself either we know about you and support a lot like you but we also know the Trust made a surplus of 3.9 million in this year when it became a Foundation Trust - we think that is immoral when patients need better services and that money is screwed off them in lowered care and rationed staff rates but we fully understand the politics behind it all and the top staff know that we know it too .

Look after yourself ...

Anonymous said...


I do not work for the trust myself, I do not adhere or agree with its policies and practises. I work part user led with paid work and I mainly work full time but voluntary as I refuse to be comprimised in my beliefs. The trust is failing its patients and this I cannot defend, I would how ever defend workers whom have little choice but to be swept away in its tangled web. I agree with your critique and it is very valid and I just wanted to add that I do feel service users get a raw deal whether it be self harm or other wise and that sparked my petition. Sometimes to fight a system means that you have to fight from within that same system. Take care, Emma x

PatientGuard said...

We hear you Emma ...

Userwatch has a wicked old scattergun technique but secretly cuddles up to more wonderful staffies and some Users we do know who are caught inside the webbery of health politics ....

Our tip to you is to start a Blog Emma because you have something to say that is real . You might like to start an account too with which is a citizen journalist account and have a go too ...Self harmers and the often shocking abusive lives they have sustained as well as the impoverished therapy approach to them by services is something we monitor often .....

We are with the patient in trying to get a better deal and our links are UK and Worldwide (especially the US)


Anonymous said...

Thanks, I will stop taking up your page space now lol and will look at the blog idea.
Take care


Here is the petition link for Mandy

PatientGuard said...

Emma you are welcome here and here is mandy's link :


Keep the dialogue going on there or here . We'll watch out for you .

All the best