Recent Changes

Friday, July 22

  1. msg Peter Downes: Mental Health Recovery message posted Peter Downes: Mental Health Recovery Dear Peter, Many thanks for this excellent article. Whilst the mental health system has specialis…
    Peter Downes: Mental Health Recovery
    Dear Peter,
    Many thanks for this excellent article.
    Whilst the mental health system has specialised in 'getting it wrong', similar barriers to independent living have been identified and are still being experienced by people with other impairments. There is a great potential (despite the differences in terminology!) for disabled people to work across the artificially created client groups to more effectively address the many common issues that are faced as we stand at the threshold of the second 'deinstitutionalisation' of our times.
    There is an excellent publication by psychiatrists from two London MH Trusts, in case you've not seen it, called Recovery is for All. It is available on the web.
    With best wishes,
    5:03 am

Tuesday, July 19

  1. msg Peter Downes: Mental Health Recovery message posted Peter Downes: Mental Health Recovery MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY: ESSENTIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR LEARNING AND TEACHING Personally speaking In…
    Peter Downes: Mental Health Recovery

    Personally speaking
    In the early days of my mental health journey a consultant psychiatrist explained that my depression was so deep-seated that nothing could be done to change it. Inwardly I protested and later requested a referral for group therapy. He agreed, adding “… but it won’t do you any good.”

    I have great respect for the integrity and commitment of such highly trained practitioners. What is not appreciated, however, is the devastating effect such observations can have on one’s inner self. At that instant something dies – it’s called hope. There follows anger and resolution. I am not prepared to be a passive recipient of treatments or diagnoses. I need to know what is going on, and why, and what my options are for dealing with it.

    Clearly, occasional ten minute sessions with the consultant psychiatrist weren’t going to cure my depression. So, for the cost of a counselling session I bought and devoured a handful of carefully selected self-help books on depression and related issues. The most significant insight to emerge at that time came from the psychologist Dorothy Rowe):
    Depression is not a genetic fault or a mysterious illness which descends on us. It is something we create for ourselves, and just as we create it, so we can dismantle it … and if you want to get out of the prison of your depression you need to let your own natural resources buoy you up. (1983, pp. 13 & 177). This was the first ray of hope in a long dark tunnel.

    It soon became abundantly clear that psychiatry is not the exact science I had imagined it to be, and I grew increasingly suspicious of what was on offer. Edward Shorter noted:
    The risk of wandering in the wilderness heightened as psychiatry took on the challenge of diagnosis and found it as much driven by politics as science … compared with psychiatry, diagnosis in other medical specialities is relatively straightforward because the causes of most conditions are known … not so in psychiatry where, genetics apart, the causes of few conditions are known. (1997, p. 295)

    There is no mystery in the process of recovery. That organic and social systems tend to self-repair is a dynamic universally observed life-force working in and around us - as intrinsic as the capacity to reproduce. Micro-organisms mutate in response to the ‘threat’ of antibiotics, ecosystems re-establish themselves in the wake of environmental disasters, and economies recover from recession. As psychiatrist Anthony Storr noted:
    Jung has long held the view that the psyche is self-regulating, and that neurotic symptoms are not just unpleasant disturbances to be got rid of, but are also attempts on the part of the psyche to restore equilibrium. (1960, p71)

    In the context of medicine and general nursing, recovery is the aimed for outcome and in most cases the prognosis is good. The recently updated NMC Standards for Pre-registration Nursing Education (2010, p. 152) which covers all branches, including mental health, defines recovery as:
    A person’s ability to live what they believe is a meaningful and satisfying life, with or without symptoms. Recovery means having control over and input into your own life.

    Psychiatry and Recovery
    As a mental health service user it has been my privilege to work with associates in higher education and the NHS who are wholly committed to the principles of awareness, enablement and recovery. Mental health recovery initiatives have their roots in twelve step recovery programmes. Unity of vision and purpose is essential for the health of recovery programmes, whatever their aims and origins. Psychiatry too is in recovery. A visit to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ website will dispel any doubts in this regard. This is a sample of quotes from their Fair deal for mental health manifesto (2008):
    Recovery and rehabilitation should be integral to mental healthcare and treatment. A coherent rehabilitation policy based on recovery-orientated practice is needed for people experiencing long-term mental health problems.

    Although improvement in individual symptoms and clinical outcomes is important and may play a key role in a person’s recovery, the overall quality of life, as judged by the individual, is central. There is a necessary shift of emphasis from being clinically and professionally centred to being user or person-centred.

    Confusion about the meaning of recovery, concerns about a perceived lack of evidence about recovery-based services and fears about risk have impeded the development of recovery-orientated services. These need to be addressed.

    People can and do recover from mental health problems. They can take control of building a meaningful life for themselves even while continuing to experience mental health problems or following a period of poor mental health (parallels the NMC Standards referred to earlier). (p27)

    Summary and Conclusion
    The tortuous history of madness has skewed and obscured the inescapable truth that, given opportunity, organic systems aim to self-heal and self-balance. That mental health recovery is also possible is only counter-intuitive in the context of psychiatry’s previous history of unenlightened and obstructive practices. As a long-time user of mental health services it is my carefully considered view that students in all disciplines need help and support in recognising the following:
    1. the knowledge that the very system entrusted with our mental wellbeing has in certain significant respects ‘got it wrong’ could well be troubling both personally and intellectually
    2. recovery is not just another transient buzzword – it’s enshrined in nursing standards and practice and is here to stay
    3. recovery is a universal naturally occurring phenomenon that needs to be acknowledged and worked with, not impeded
    4. the instilling, and maintaining, of hope and belief is crucial for the successful outworking of recovery principles in a mental health context

    PETER H DOWNES, Service User and Educator, University of Worcester


    NMC (2010) Standards for Pre-registration Nursing Education, London: Nursing and Midwifery Council

    Rowe, D. (1983) Depression: the Way Out of Your Prison, London: Routledge

    Royal College of Psychiatrists (2008) Fair deal for mental health manifesto, London: Royal College of Psychiatrists

    Shorter, E. (1997) A History of Psychiatry, London: Jossey Bass

    Storr, A. (1960) The Integrity of the Personality, New York: Atheneum
  2. msg Deborah Isaac - Culture-Bound Syndromes message posted Deborah Isaac - Culture-Bound Syndromes Culture-Bound Syndromes: debating its inclusion as a psychiatric diagnostic category. Introducti…
    Deborah Isaac - Culture-Bound Syndromes
    Culture-Bound Syndromes: debating its inclusion as a psychiatric diagnostic category.

    There is a dearth of evidence which brings our attention to the influence of culture upon health and illness and that the two are not mutually exclusive. Health care professionals are reminded of the need to understand and perform culturally competent interventions for the diverse sections of society which Britain now occupies. Fernando (2005) talks about modern Britain’s rich multiculturalism seen to enjoy equitable social systems that is accessible to all sections of society. These include its educational, health sectors and public services on the one hand, whilst on the other hand, mental health services are largely deemed as incompetent, insensitive and inappropriate (Francis 2002). Furthermore, the limitations of psychiatric diagnoses render it somewhat problematic for those of whom the label is unable to ‘stick’. As it is so often stated, culture provides meaning to our lives encapsulating the political, economic, cognitive and social structures we find ourselves in including the complex interactions between patient, carer and practitioner Helman (2007). The impact of culture is therefore imbedded within our conscious and unconscious state of existence. Health and illness is no exception.

    Psychiatry as a branch of medicine which specialises in mental illness is grappling, not with culture per se, but with the issue of Culture-Bound Syndromes (CBS) Simmons (2001:1) question ‘the conceptual framework pertaining to Western Psychiatry’. In other words, if such diagnostic anomalies persist then surely, are these so called folk illnesses ‘syndromes’ or are we yet to offer a more concrete definition to explain those outside the realms of similar patterns of behaviour. The DSM-1V-TR, (of the American Psychiatric Association (2000) have provided 25 so-called common CBS (within the appendices) and idioms of distress by further describing CBS as:.
    ...recurrent, locality-specific patterns of aberrant behaviour and troubling experience that may or may not be linked to a particular DSM-1V diagnostic category. Many of these patterns are indigenously considered to be “illnesses”, or at least afflictions, and most have local names. CBS are generally limited to specific societies or culture areas and are localized, folk, diagnostic categories that frame coherent meanings for certain repetitive, patterned and troubling sets of experiences and observations. (APA, 2000), p.898.

    Causal explanations and appropriate interventions for “idioms of distress” are therefore difficult to conceptualise due largely to its non-Western roots. The DSM and ICD – 10 (International Classification of Diseases) used in Europe has not been able to neatly incorporate or compartmentalise CBS into mainstream diagnostic categories.
    Its omission is usually said to be due to differences in expression of distress and therefore ‘cure’ is sort by traditional remedies and potions instead of conventional medicines. Let us take as an example a situation in the Philippines where a person exhibits various illness behaviours i.e. fever, stomach problems, incessant crying, nightmares etc. Such displays can be construed as suffering from lanti as a result of being shocked or startled. Thus, there does not appear to be a discrete ‘lanti syndrome’ which offers a specific experience, Simmons (2001). What appears to be suggested is that lanti is a label which explains various ills or misfortunes.

    Another argument is that Western concept of the medical model is orientated towards the notion that something wrong or imperfect needs putting right. Hence, the emphasis is on disease, illness or disorder to be appropriately treated with interventions and technology either by traditional medicine (allopathic) and/or surgery is highlighted by Yardley’s (2001) discourses of health and illness. Non-Western societies such as China and India confer holistic views of health and illness, primarily explained in terms of yin and yang and the balance of life and energy under the meridian systems; striving toward harmony, or in Africa, where spiritual determinants tend to govern any physical disturbance.

    Descriptions of afflictions can take on many guises in such societies, such as Dhat Syndrome pertaining to India where a man is concerned about the explosion of sperm when he passes urine; semen loss anxiety. Or Amok (‘running amok’) originating from Malaysia; one is seen brooding followed by a period of aggressive, violent outbursts, generally towards people or objects.

    Such presentations, symptoms, duration and responses are considered as localised and culturally specific. When Yap initiated the term in 1967, the thinking was that each syndrome would be bound by specific ethnic and cultural groups; particular to them. An example of which is described with anorexia nervosa (AN); a type of eating disorder whereby the suffer harbours an irrational fear of being ‘fat’ and said to be a Western culture-bound syndrome and the debates surrounding it (Banks 1992). In other words, to what ‘culture’ is it bound? American? British? Interestingly, studies (Lee 1996) states that diverse societies in Europe, Africa, the Middle and Far East found a comparable prevalence of AN on par with Western presentations. Similarly, Keel and Klump (2003:8) cross – historical and cross-evidence concluded that AN was specific to Western culture. Their explanation was summed up as follows:
    Although Western influence (specifically, weight phobia) may be a motivating factor for food refusal in some cases of AN, Western influence is not a motivating factor in all cases of AN. Therefore, AN cannot be described as a culturally bound syndrome.
    Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is also grouped as an eating disorder for which those afflicted engage in binge eating followed by compensatory behaviour of purging. According to Keel and Klump (2003:10) BN is considered as culture-bound citing the following:
    Unlike AN, Keel and Klump did not find any studies reporting the presence of BN in people who had not been exposed to Western culture. Most people with BN in non-Western countries were exposed to Western culture through urbanization...The cross-historical and cross-cultural evidences of BN suggest BN is a cultural-bound syndrome as most historical cases of binge eating represent binge eating disorder or AN binge-purge subtype and as there is no evidence of the presence of BN in the absence of Western culture.

    Although CBS remain difficult to define, it can be explained somewhere between somatic symptoms and psychiatric symptoms. I would argue that this concept is unsatisfactory, a point noted by Bhugra (1997). I am therefore seeking a firmer explanation of CBS; to consider such afflictions as Medically Unexplained Syndromes (MUS) whilst acknowledging the complexity of such a societal concept. Thus, where we cannot fully comprehend what lies behind symptoms in body, mind, the soul and its encompassing relationship, should it (conveniently) fall into the category of MUS?.

    The overriding issue is how doctors categorise symptoms into bodily dysfunctions or psychological features. i.e. psychosomatic and the distinction between disease, illness and disorders all of which require a description by the patient or afflicted. Diseases can be deemed as any deviation from the normal functioning of the body and its systems as a consequence of a prognosis either known or unknown. Diseases are by and large caused by infection, genetic abnormality, environmental disasters, other physiological defects and is physical by nature. Illnesses tend to be that which relies on the individual’s perception of poor health and although a disease can be the cause of illness, this is not necessarily so the other way. Disorders tend to be groups of illnesses such as mood disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar affective disorder and so forth.

    Cooper (2010) Studies In History And Philosophy Of Biological And Biomedical Sciences [Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci] Are culture-bound syndromes as real as universally-occurring disorders? This paper questions What is a real disorder? and aims to consider whether CBS are ‘real disorders’. If we therefore question CBS as a viable disorder, what do we (or should we) have as an alternative? Other anomalies for the author, is whether the reported disorder or condition has occurred genuinely or not or whether it can be considered a myth? In other words, should the disorder indeed be understood as a disorder at all, certainly in terms of the scientific classification systems in ICD 10 and DSM. The author calls for the possibility of having a separate category as a variant of the universal occurring disorders. There is then, an assumption that ‘real disorders’ occur universally, a point that requires further discussion in light of our choice of intervention for patients from diverse backgrounds.

    Banks, C G ‘Culture’ in Culture-Bound Syndromes: the case with Anorexia Nervosa. Soc. Sci. Med. 34, 867, 1992

    Bhugra, D et al (1997) Troublesome Disguises: Underdiagnosed Psychiatric Syndromes. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Cooper (2010) Studies In History And Philosophy Of Biological And Biomedical Sciences

    Fernando, S (2005) Cultural Diversity, Mental Health and Psychiatry: The Struggle Against Racism. Taylor & Francis Group.

    Helman, C (5th ed) (2007) Culture, Health and Illness. Hodder Arnold.

    Keel, P. K., & Klump, K. L. (2003). Are eating disorders culture-bound syndromes?
    Implications for conceptualizing their etiology. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 747

    Lee, S (1996) Reconsidering the Status of Anorexia Nervosa as a Western Culture-Bound Syndrome. Soc.Sci. Med. Vol.4221-34 1996

    Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health Report,
    Francis, E (2002) Breaking the Circles of Fear - Briefing 17, 15th July 2002

Thursday, April 14

  1. msg The Social Determinants of Mental Health message posted The Social Determinants of Mental Health Dear Kate, Just to say that I fully agree with your article, and feel that this has been helpfully…
    The Social Determinants of Mental Health
    Dear Kate,
    Just to say that I fully agree with your article, and feel that this has been helpfully reflected in some sections of the new mental health strategy (which really ought to be an influence on the curriculum everywhere) the Foreword of which describes it as not only a strategy for mental health but also for social justice. With some exceptions (such a a craftily worded sentence that suggests that 'choice' in mental health is restricted to choice of 'evidence-based' interventions) I think that it does for the first time establish the foundations for an approach to mental health support based on the principles you outline above, and not on more traditional, paternalistic concepts which we have never really left behind despite the numerous new words we have come to use!
    With best wishes,
    6:48 am

Monday, April 4

  1. msg Pearse McCusker - Mental Health in Social Work: A burning Issue for higher education? message posted Pearse McCusker - Mental Health in Social Work: A burning Issue for higher education? Mental Health in Social Work: A burning issue for higher education? 30 years on from the disabil…
    Pearse McCusker - Mental Health in Social Work: A burning Issue for higher education?
    Mental Health in Social Work: A burning issue for higher education?

    30 years on from the disability movement’s challenge to the ‘medical model’ of disability (Oliver, 1983), within mental health, the call for recognition of the multifarious role social factors have, both in constructing notions of and causing ‘illness’, continues (Beresford, et al, 2010). Ironically, this is set against an extensive and increasing evidence-base for the negative impact poverty, poor housing and social exclusion have on mental health. The ‘Glasgow effect’ (Scottish Government, 2010; Melzer at al, 2004) describes the increased prevalence of mental and physical health problems, including anxiety and depression, within the Glasgow population, as compared to the rest of Scotland. Whilst it identifies difficulties establishing exact causal relationships, the study finds socio-economic variables play a key role in determining the prevalence of mental illness, with economic status having “the largest impact on predicting health outcomes” (Scottish Government, 2010, p.41). Drawing from extensive empirical evidence from international studies, Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) unearth a consistent relationship between societies with high levels of inequality and increased health and social problems, including mental illness.

    Reflecting these developments, significant efforts have been made to redefine and explain mental illness within a wider social and cultural context, spearheaded by service user groups and the voluntary sector, and encapsulated in the ‘recovery’ strand of mental health policy. ‘Recovery’ represents an attempt to more accurately depict the complexity of mental illness and enable service users and professionals to develop more comprehensive and empowering ways of dealing with it (Brown and Kandirikirira, 2007). Recovery’s impact, in terms of changing professional attitudes and wider discourses of mental illness is, however, unclear. Beresford et al’s (2010) recent exploration of the views of mental health service users suggest that the perspective of ‘madness’ as a medical condition, located at the level of the individual, still pervades and provides eloquent testimonies to the lived experience of stigma:

    What I think that [medical] model does is blame the individual…there’s something wrong with you, that’s the message that you get…(2010a p.2).

    Whilst the authors also critique the usefulness of the social model of disability as an alternative conceptual framework, because it supports ideas of ‘impairment’, they find broad agreement for developing ways of thinking about mental illness that capture its multi-dimensional nature, including the relationships between “psychological state, shared social circumstances, experiences and barriers” (2010a, p.3) and at the same time recognising the individuality of service users’ needs.

    Social work, whose central theoretical premise is founded on the importance of the inter-relationship between people and their social contexts, is a natural conduit for the development and transmission of such broader perspectives on mental illness. Social workers are uniquely positioned to utilise knowledge of the social determinants (Karban, 2011) of mental illness to enable service users to tackle the problems that really matter and communicate the power of doing so to other disciplines. As a profession, however, social work’s main organisational model, of service provision by care group, arguably militates against qualifying social workers expanding the comprehensive knowledge bases their degrees are required to prepare them for (Scottish Executive, 2006). Thus social workers are funnelled into the specific knowledge silo required to deal with the demands and complexities of the relevant care group. As a social work team leader in a community mental health team, I was often struck by the lack of focus children and families’ social workers gave to addressing the needs of parents with mental health problems, combined with characteristically medicalised and risk-focused perspectives on mental illness. Further, individual social workers’ level of knowledge and understanding of mental illness are likely to depend largely on the attention paid to the subject in their degree courses. Inevitably, this will vary, however, practice observations suggest the extent to which social work training prepares qualifying workers for recognising and addressing the mental health needs of service users, regardless of ‘care group’, is limited.

    Even ‘specialist’ social workers may struggle to articulate informed, holistic definitions of mental illness. Within mental health, social work is, arguably, perceived as a 'junior partner' to psychiatry and allied health professions, where treatment for ‘illness’ is still dominated by use of medicine and ‘clinical’ know-how sits atop the knowledge hierarchy. In this environment social workers often find it difficult to clearly delineate their role, not least because of its expansive nature, encompassing the gamut of physical, mental, economic and social problems users and carers face. Within the community mental health team environment, I was aware that social workers, myself included, often struggled to assert with confidence, counter arguments in the face of ‘expert’ medical knowledge. Notwithstanding the need for pharmacologically and neurologically informed care and treatment, I also witnessed the transformative effects many social workers’ interventions had in the lives of service users they worked together with. In addition to stopping vulnerable people having benefits cut, advocating on behalf of asylum seekers with intransigent officialdom and tackling other fundamental needs, these interventions recognised the centrality of development of self and positive identity to achieving something approaching a fulfilling life.

    The burning issue here is the position of mental health within social work education. Adding to the arguments of Kate Karban and Mike Maas-Lowitt, this paper asks for universities to respond to the call from service users and to an increasing body of research, which underline the position of social factors as key players in forming, maintaining and exacerbating mental illness, and to embed informed and progressive mental health teaching within qualifying and post qualifying social work education. It reflects a wish to move beyond simplistic, polarised or reductive conceptions of illness to equip qualifying social workers with knowledge that enables them to counteract the compartmentalisation of the profession, support service users to achieve quality of life and contribute towards the development of more subtle, sophisticated and human ways of understanding mental illness.


    Beresford, P., Nettle, M. and Perring, R., 2010a. Towards a Social Model of Madness and Distress? Exploring what service users say; Findings – Informing change. Joseph Rowntree Foundation

    Brown, W. and Kandirikirira, N., 2007. Recovering Mental Health in Scotland: Report on narrative investigation of mental health recovery. Glasgow: Scottish Recovery Network.

    Melzer, D., Fryers, T. Jenkins, R. (eds) (2004) Social Inequalities and the Distribution of Common Mental Disorders, Hove: Psychology Press.

    Oliver, M., 1983. Social Work with Disabled People. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

    Scottish Executive, 2006. The Framework for Social Work Education in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

    Scottish Government, 2010. The Scottish Health Survey; The Glasgow Effect. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
    8:31 am

Tuesday, March 22

  1. msg User/carer involvement in education: why you should use Web2.0 technologies message posted User/carer involvement in education: why you should use Web2.0 technologies The involvement of service users and carers is central to effective learning and teaching in mental…
    User/carer involvement in education: why you should use Web2.0 technologies
    The involvement of service users and carers is central to effective learning and teaching in mental health education. A major lesson we have learned and are promoting as a Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health (CEIMH) at the University of Birmingham is that service user and carer involvement in education does not have to be confined to the classroom. Educators must look beyond the confines of the campus and start thinking about how the communication and collaboration opportunities offered by freely available Web2.0 tools might be used to engage service users and carers in the processes of designing and delivering effective mental health teaching.

    Mental health service users and carers tend to bring a vast pool of authentic experiences and knowledge to the task of teaching at the pre and post-qualifying levels. By virtue of their past involvement with services they can provide insights that can enable students from a range of disciplines to understand the holistic nature of mental distress and its impact on the service user, their carer and those around them. Using these experiences in the education and training of mental health professionals can help produce practitioners capable of working in partnership to provide improved and appropriate provision for service users and their carers (Tew, Gell, & Foster, 2004). Whilst the arguments for involving service users and carers are clearly articulated, putting them into practice in higher education can prove quite challenging. Tyler (2006) highlights how practical barriers can prevent service user and carer involvement. These barriers can include issues of time, place and access where involvement can be prevented because service users and carers need to organise substitute care, may not be well enough to travel, have problems accessing funding for travel, paying child care costs as well as a myriad of benefit related and practical problems a busy life can present. For service users and carers who have access to the Internet, Web2.0 technologies can provide some opportunities to overcome a number of these barriers.

    The term Web 2.0 was first coined by Tim O’Reilly (2005) and has no agreed definition. The work of CEIMH in this area suggests that Web2.0 should be thought of more as a concept than as a technology. Terms such as the “read/write web” and the “social web” have been used to describe some of its main properties. Web2.0 enables people to connect flexibly to overcome some of the barriers of time, place and access. For example, Web2.0 can allow a wide range of people to engage in the collaborative processes of learning by freely accessing and sharing with others to consume, remix, repurpose and collectively generate new knowledge and ideas. Where service users and carers have Internet access at home or via their local library etc all they require to access Web2.0 tools is a web browser. Our own critical appraisal of Web 2.0 tools and processes suggests there are four related properties that should encourage academics to use these services to design and deliver effective interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

    The first property is the ability of Web 2.0 tools and services to support a high degree of communication and collaboration. Using these freely available facilities, service users, carers, students, practitioners and academics can plan teaching, share information, coordinate research/problem-based activities, engage in debate and build learning communities within a flexible environment that can be free from the traditional constraints of time and place. We found for example that using GoogleDocs online word processor as the main medium for planning and designing teaching events reduced the need for face-to-face meetings. This enabled service users and carers to participate fully in these processes by working remotely at a time, place and pace convenient for them.

    The second property Web 2.0 offers is the ability to easily create content such as text, video or audio files and then freely publish these to a select group, or potentially worldwide audience. We found that the “write, publish and discuss” simplicity of Blogs (such as Google’s provided an excellent medium for mental health service users and carers to develop a supportive community of practice by creating an online space to share, discuss and archive their experiences of engaging in and seeking to improve interdisciplinary teaching and learning processes. (For more on Blogs see

    The third property enables the development of skills such as enquiry. This can be achieved by combining problem-based case studies with the simple collaborative functions of a Wiki (such as As part of the Collaborative Learning Initiative (see ) we utilised a Wiki link function that enabled us to guide students to additional learning content on the Internet. Working alongside mental health service users, carers and practitioner’s students learned to develop the skills required to retrieve, interrogate and assess the validity of sources they intended to use. Working as a team they used the write, edit and save functions of a Wiki to collaborate and collectively produce potential solutions to complex life like mental health situations. (To find out more about Wikis see

    Exposure to these learning opportunities covers the fourth property, that of developing literacy (through experience) in using these tools and reflecting on how they could be used to aid effective interdisciplinary practice in the mental health field of the future.

    With all the benefits outlined above, why would you not explore the potential on offer?

    (To find out more about some of the tools mentioned, please see Mason & Rennie, 2008; Richardson, 2009).

    Tarsem Singh Cooner

    Mason, R., & Rennie, F. (2008). E-learning and social networking handbook : resources for higher education. London: Routledge.
    O'Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0? Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

    Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

    Tew, J., Gell, C., & Foster, S. (2004). Learning from Experience: Involving Service Users and Carers in Mental Health Education and Training: A Good Practice Guide: Higher Education Academy/NIMHE/Trent Workforce Development Confederation.

    Tyler, G. (2006). Addressing Barriers to Participation: Service User Involvement in Social Work Training. Social Work Education, 25(4), 385 - 392.
    12:29 pm

Friday, February 11

  1. page Burning Issues edited ... The initial deadline of 10 January has now passed but we are still interested in receiving sub…
    The initial deadline of 10 January has now passed but we are still interested in receiving submissions!
    Remember: Rather than (or in addition to) posting your own burning issue, you may choose to respond to one that has already been submitted. Go to discussion tab at the top of this page, click on the submission and respond.

    (view changes)
  2. page Burning Issues edited ... or email it to Any queries? Please contact Bill Penson or Jill Ander…
    or email it to
    Any queries? Please contact Bill Penson or Jill Anderson or
    initial deadline
    January has nowonow passed
    but we are
    Remember: Rather than (or in addition to) posting your own burning issue, you may choose to respond to one that has already been submitted. Go to discussion tab at the top of this page, click on the submission and respond.
    (view changes)