UN_ESCALATE – Workshop Sat 27th Nov & 4th Dec, 2021

UN_ESCALATE -Poster-Fall 2021These are difficult times and this is difficult work: how might we approach it first as human beings?

Escalation is a dynamic that involves at least two people.


Many asked at the end of other workshops: do you do anything on de-escalation?
My usual Response was “no because I don’t think of it that way.
Two years ago I took on the challenge and asked myself: “ok,  so how do I see it and what might I offer ?.”

Most de-escalation trainings is focus on an assumption that a client is “escalating” and thus “in-need-of-need-de-escalating” by an expert – a worker – who is expert in “de-escalating” clients “in-need-of-de-escalating”.

UN_ESCALATE is different, intentionally so.

  1. Starts in a different place and carves a different path.
  2. Shares ideas, tools from many sources including: systems thinking and relational dynamics, peace building, peer support, health promotion.
  3. Focusses on ways we can critically examine how services are designed and operated , to not do -or to undo – some of the many things that get done to people who access services that lead them to react in ways that get called “escalating” and results in them being deemed a “person in need of de-escalation”. 

If we do this then, maybe, we’ll find ourselves thinking that we need to “de-escalate” another  person less often.

“Yeah, we do things round here all the time that ‘escalate’ people.”

UN_ESCALATE : Some basic assumptions.

  • None individual escalates all by themself.
  • We each “escalate“: in response to [something in] our environment, and in context of our whole life experience.
  • Whatever a person is doing is both an expression of a deeply felt need, and a survival response.
  • Whatever survival response we tend to fall back on is likely one that we’ve learned from how life has treated us and one that’s worked so far… but is also not the only one and may not the best one for this moment.
  • The only person I can “de-escalate” is me.
  • None of us can “de-escalate another”.
  • We can though, de-escalate the situation in which we both find ourselves.

Q. How do we draw upon experiences of being in the role of  worker required to “de-escalate” a person said to be “in need of de-escalation”?

Q. How do we draw upon experiences of having been that person said to be “in need of de-escalation”?

Q. How might we go beyond the operationalization, steps, and rules-based approach of  “de-escalation” and instead UN_ESCALATE?

This is a one-day workshop in two parts, offered here over two half-days: two consecutive Saturday mornings.

A WORKshop for WORKers…

Sharing ideas, thinking tools and practical stuff you can use so you can
suck less.

this workshop is designed to share some ideas , tools and approaches we can use to examine how we can change the way we approach situations in which it is usually said that an individual is “in need of de-escalation”.

Part one looks at some ideas, part two creates opportunity – after a few days reflection- to use some of these ideas, individually and or in combination, to examine how we work in services in ways that lead people to “escalate” and generate practical ideas for changing how we work in these situations, including systemic changes and also personal choices we make in how we go about the work. And generate ideas for changes – or different choices we can make starting from our next shift.

Designed a s small interactive, participative workshop .
Spaces are Limited 

UN_ESCALATE -Poster-Fall 2021

Part 1   Saturday 27th Nov 2021
             9:30am to 1:30pm

Part 2   Saturday   4th Dec    2021
             9:30am to 1:30pm

Kevin Healey

Church of The Holy Trinity
10 Trinity Square
[next to Eaton Centre]

Register online NOW
Registration is online at Eventbrite.com
Click on the link below or on the BIG PINK BUTTON


Holy Trinity In assoc with...We are grateful for Church of The Holy Trinity for use of the space and pleased to be part of both the community and the community work based there.

Please feel free to print and /or share the poster.
Printable pdf: UN_ESCALATE poster FALL2021

UN_ESCALATE -Poster-Fall 2021

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Hearing Voices Workshop #1 Accepting Voices – Sat Oct 30th

Header-Accepting Voices OCT 2021This introductory and foundational workshop will open doors of new understanding, in non-diagnostic, non-categorising ways, of a range of human experiences [like difficult-to-hear voices that no-one else hears] that get called names like “psychosis”.

This workshop is designed especially for those who work in health and social services but open to all.

Many who find themselves struggling to support loved ones who struggle and find themselves bewildered and frustrated by the help offered by services have also attended and found it useful for them. Indeed, we find  it creates a richer experience when we can come together and learn with and from each other.

The world, society, and culture that we have created for ourselves and each other is not fit for humans. Join in co-creating one that is.

Accepting Voices POSTER OCT.2021Hearing Voices Workshop #1: Accepting Voices

Two half-days: 

Saturday 30th September, 2019
9:30am to 1pm

Saturday 6th October 2021
9:30am to 1:00pm

Register Online now at Eventbrite

Limited Spaces Available.

big red buttonRegistration NOW  online at Eventbrite.
Click on the big red button [or link below] to register now.


This is designed as a small group, interactive workshop.
Spaces are limited.

Poster – PDF printable version: HV Workshop#1 Accepting Voices 30.OCT.2021

Holy Trinity In assoc with...We are grateful for Church of The Holy Trinity for use of the space and pleased to be part of the community and community work based there.


NOTE: COVID Restrictions

Any restrictions extant at the time of the workshop will be observed.

These currently stand at: 

  • At the time of posting, Ontario Stage 2 reopening is extant.
  • Limited to 25% maximum of room capacity
  • Attendees will be required to wear masks and sanitize hands.

In the event of Ontario Govt mandating a reversion to higher level of COVID restrictions we may need to cancel/ postpone –  in which case workshop fees paid will be refunded.
[Note: does not include booking fees]


Workshop – Full Description

Accepting Voices POSTER OCT.2021Tilt your universe blow your mind and / or gain a whole new perspective on experiences that we’re taught to fear and to believe that we can’t possibly understand. This workshop will show you tat you can understand, and in  simple, human terms.

We’ll be joined by some cool folks working at the intersections of trauma, psychosis, homelessness and in a system that many can see is overwhelmed and creaking at the seams.

No amount of more of the same will ever be enough.
There is a way out of this – it’s time we started doing things differently.

You can start here:
at this Workshop.

  • “You gave me a whole new way of thinking about voices”
  • “I’m not quite sure what I learned but I feel like my whole Universe has been tilted”
  • “Eye opening, Stunned”

Who needs to attend this workshop?

  • “Everyone working in mental health.  Scatch that:  EVERYONE !!!”

This workshop offers a beginning, an introduction to a non-diagnostic, non-medical,  human experience perspective understanding of the kinds of experiences – like difficult-to-hear voices- that are often categorised as “psychosis”.

A key part is making connections between pain, trauma psychosis powerlessness and disconnectedness we can experience when we find ourselves feared and discarded by society.

Q. Do you…?

  • Work with people who hear voices and who struggle with their experience of that?
  • Have someone in your life who hears voices and struggles with difficult experiences that get called “psychosis
  • Feel limited in your ability to understand and support them?
  • Feel frustrated at how the story that voices must mean illness limits us – not only the lives of people who hear voices, but all of us?
  • Feel weary of the notion that we must fear ourselves and fear each other?
  • Want to understand connections between adverse events, trauma , injury woundedness, pain and difficult-to-hear voices.
  • Want to minimise the additional trauma generated by how services are typically designed and operated when working to support those who face being rendered powerlessness and disconnected from society?
  • Feel ready to learn more, and find you keep asking yourself “what else can I do?”.
  • Want to know more about how you can be part of creating the future, and join in with enacting a world that understands and is better able to offer real support?

Q. Are Ready to “tilt your universe”?

If so, then this workshop might help you tilt your universe and emancipate yourself with very simple and very human ways to understand and begin to act to support a person who struggles with difficult experiences that get called names like “psychosis”.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who hear voices and struggle.

Note: If you’re looking for a workshop on how to diagnose and categorise your friends, family and colleagues and / or just what what dehumanizing names you can yourself and them, and others then please know that this is not that workshop.

Our aim is that you can feel more confident in your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space to people who live with experiences that get called names like “psychosis” and that can be difficult to live with and more difficult to talk about.

Join us in enacting a world that understands voice hearing, supports the needs of people who hear voices and regards them as full citizens.

How this workshop fits with others designed so you can grow your practice…

This Workshop is part of a structured and modular approach to learning ways of supporting people who struggle.

As  a  first step that is designed to offer a basic grounding but also foundation for further, deeper learning and practice in supporting people who struggle with experiences like difficult-to-hear voices that get called “psychosis”.

Participation in this workshop is prerequisite to other more advanced and learning opportunities, eg…

  • Working With Voices
  • Starting and Sustaining Hearing Voices Groups In Your Community
  • Carnival des Voix [running your own]
  • Working with Maastricht Interview
  • Facilitating Voice Dialogue

Full Workshop Description

Header-Accepting Voices OCT 2021Workshop #1 Accepting Voices

This unique and innovative workshop offers you a non-diagnostic understanding of the kinds of experience like hearing voices that are that are sometimes called “psychosis”.

We offer you simple,  everyday language to show you how you can understand such experiences not as “disconnected from” but intimately connected with reality and in ways that can be overwhelming, painful, frustrating, sometimes terrifying response to the reality we share,

It also offers a framework you can use to connect and draw from your own experiences to help you truly empathize and understand how better to support people who might be undergoing such difficult experiences.

You’ll leave feeling more at ease with both yourself and your ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle.

Join us in enacting a society that understands voice hearing, supports individuals who hear voices and views them as full citizens…

What you can expect and connect yourself with a community of people doing just that.

This workshop will enable you better to …

  • Understand hearing voices [and other experiences] as a normal human experience, that can become problematic when a person is left to struggle without support.
  • Share simple data and stories about just how common it is to hear voices- how it is not in itself a problem and many people do – some cultures regard it as bringing great benefit.
  • Peer through and beyond diagnostic frameworks – resist the urge to catalogue and categorize everything you witness as “symptom” and instead.
  • Take an interest in the person struggling with their experience of voices and other experiences called “psychosis” as a human being having a hard time.
  • Begin to accept even the most difficult of human experiences as something that can be understood, explored and even valued.
  • Look within your own experience and relate with different experiences like hearing voices, visions, unshared beliefs.
  • Explore how you can be at ease in your role and be more real with people who have difficult experiences.
  • Offer yourself as a one-person safe-space to people who struggle with experiences like hearing voices.

Who this workshop is designed for…

We believe the hearing voices approach is emancipatory for all.

As Lilla Watson is credited with put it so wonderfully…

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

If, in your work, you work with you come into contact with people who hear voices and who struggle with that; and you have experienced how that can leave you feeling uncomfortable or worse, then we think you’ll find this one day workshop useful.

So, if you’re a doctor, nurse, social worker, community worker, housing worker, peer support worker, psychologist, therapist, police officer, etc. then it may be for you.

Families, carers, everyone. 
The workshop is also highly suitable for you if you love, live with, care for people in your life who hear voices and struggle with that – and you have come to realise the limitations of an approach that limits understanding to illness-brain chemicals and you are curious about how else you may understand, and what else you can do…

Workshop design…

This is an intensive workshop covering a lot of ground, together we will :

  • Gain insights from people who hear voices, and from others who work with people who hear voices.
  • Learn how we can think differently about voices and other experiences that are sometimes called “psychosis”.
  • Explore how, as workers, we can accept ourselves and each other, relax and enjoy our work: the better to offer support for people who hear voices.
  • Interact – with deep personal reflection,  shared sense-making and dialogue.
  • We will also share some simple, practical approaches that you can use in your practice on return to work.
  • Connect with resources and both local network and the global hearing voices community.

This workshop is designed to leave you feeling more competent and confident in your own ability to offer yourself as a one-person safe space for people who hear voices.

You will not become an expert in one day but you’ll have a good basis for starting and feeling more comfortable – and more human – as you do.

Accepting Voices POSTER OCT.2021Poster

Please feel free to help us let people know about this workshop by printing, posting, distributing, however you can with your networks…

Or, hand to your worker, colleague, or boss, and ask…

“Q. When are you going to do this training?”

Printer-friendly poster [pdf]

HV Workshop#1 Accepting Voices 30.OCT.2021

About the Presenters, Facilitators, Designers

Kkevin-healey-action figureevin Healey hears more voices than you can shake a stick at, so many that even his voices hear voices, and has done so for longer than either he – or they -care to remember.

Founder and coordinator of www.recoverynet.ca, Toronto Hearing Voices group, Anglophone Canada’s longest running, and of the Hearing Voices Café.

Creates and delivers innovative, taboo-busting talks, trainings and workshops that enable people to find new language, and simpler ways to understand surprisingly common human experiences that we’ve made fearful and taboo, so making life even harder both for those who struggle and also for the rest of us to understand.

Shows how we can make simple sense of trauma, pain, psychosis, taboo, and butt-hurt voices, and how they interweave and interconnect our inner-struggle with living in an outer-world that is fast becoming unfit for humans who built it and in which we keep creating results that nobody wants. 

After you’ve heard him talk you may join those who say they don’t hear voices but now wish they could.

Also Coordinator for the Toronto branch of ISPS-US International Society for Social Psychological Approaches to Psychosis.

Picture1Dave U
For many years Dave would only say only one word, now he authors articles at http://www.recoverynet.ca and moderates online support groups for voices to talk directly with each other round the world, and he coaches and co-presents in workshops for approaches like voice dialogue.

Enjoys creating memes: out of things voices say, about living in a universe that mostly comprises what he refers to as The Weird, and his own wry observations on the human obsession with calling each other horrible names, categorizing and crushing each other into boxes that don’t fit.

Voices have stories too: His favourite pastime is pretending to be a jelly bean, second is remarking upon how “voices” and “humans” behave in ways that are often very much the-one-is–like-the-other. Dave doesn’t really have a bio – like other superheroes he has an “Origins Story”, and like “The Truth…”, at least some of it, “is Out there…”

Mark Roininen
Mark has many years experience as “worker” with a major social services agency, and has worked with many who struggle with the kind of experiences that get called “psychosis”.
He shares his personal perspective of how being confronted with his own dark side enabled him to relate more simply and authentically with difficult experiences of the people he works with, in-process, freeing himself from merely following “the script” and playing “invisible worker” so that he can be both more professional and more human.
His ability to share stories of his own experience of learning how to do this work offers others hope that they can too.

About Hearing Voices
Why we choose to use the term hearing voices, what we mean by it…

  • Hearing voices is intentional, ordinary language descriptive of a range of human experiences that in Western cultures has been mystified and made taboo, and that we have been taught to fear – and yet which are also remarkably common, likely much more common than you think. No everyone uses this language, all kinds of people live with experiences they might call voices, some choose other languages.
    Hearing voices does not presuppose that a voice can only come rom a human body, or must be heard by more than one person, or must be heard by someone called a “mental health professional” .
  • Hearing Voices as Approach also refers to broadly emancipatory ideas and ways of working that accepts such experiences as very real and meaningful- if sometimes difficult to live with, and that seeks to share ways we can learn to live with such difficult experiences and support and connect with each other.
    This approach also includes many other similar experiences that can be hard to live with and harder to talk about and make sense of.

When we learn to put aside our fear of both ourselves and each other we generate possibilities, to create new roles, to connect with each other, and to find richer experiences of being human and co-create a world that’s easier to live in for all of us.

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Cure For Me | Aurora

[Thanks to a good friend, TF, for sharing this one.]


I run from the liars, the fuel on the fire
I know I created myself
I know I can’t fight the sad days and bad nights
But I never asked for your help

You got hurt
No, we don’t belong together
So you took the love from my arms
Into the arms of yours

But I don’t need a cure for me
I don’t need it
No, I don’t need a cure for me
I don’t need it
No, I don’t need a cure for me

I don’t like the tension, the misapprehensions
About our nature in love
The glorious teachers are no use for creatures
Who knows how to play with the gods

You got nerves, but they never show
Unless they hurt, so you blamed it all
On my love, the moving
Heart I got

But I don’t need a cure for me
I don’t need it
No, I don’t need a cure for me
I don’t need it
No, I don’t need a cure for me
I don’t need it
I don’t need it

Hm, please, no cure for me
Please, no cure for me, cure for me
Cure for me, please, no cure for me, cure for me
Cure for me, please, no cure for me, cure for me, cure for me

I don’t need it
(And you should know)
I don’t need a cure for me
(And you need to know I don’t need it)
I don’t need it
(And you should know)
No, I don’t need a cure for me
(And you need to know I don’t need it)
I don’t need it
(And you should know)
No, I don’t need a cure for me
(And you need to know I don’t need it)
I don’t need it
(And you should know)
No, I don’t need a cure for me

Songwriters: Aserud Magnus Skylstad / Aurora Aksnes

Cure For Me lyrics © Ultra Tunes, Budde Music Publishing GmbH

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Kevin and Dave go to Montreal

Short movie offering a glimpse of Hearing Voices Congress, Montreal Nov 2019.

Follow Dave and his side-kick Kevin as they travel to Montreal for Congress – where they hosted a workshop Dave designed: “Carnival des Voix” and afterwards a procession…

Dave gets to meet Dr Marius Romme one of the co founders of hearing voices movement and of Congress and Dave talks about quantum physics and Marius talks about his liking for sex, baby.

Every person who struggles with difficult-to-hear-voices that only they can hear has a story- and every voice has a story too.

This short movie has been finished for some time but embargoed for general release as it’s been included in a number of film festivals around the world over this year and a half of COVIDcrappery. Its now freed from that and ready to be shared with the world.

Kevin & Dave Go To Montreal from Parallel Vision Productions on Vimeo.

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Some catches of the mental health system

by Andrew Baxter

Butterfly trapped in window
Photo by William Ismael


Recently I read the novel ‘Poppy Shakespeare’, in which the lead character was admitted against her will to a day hospital in London and found herself in a Catch-22 situation. This got me thinking about other ways the mental health services put people in this kind of situation.

I have described five of these catches, together with examples from my own life and practical ideas of how to work around them. I have jokingly given the catches numbers like ‘-43’ to stay in the spirit of the book Catch-22 and suggest that there may be other catches. I hope you can take the workarounds as a prompt to your own imagination, not a fixed recipe.

By ‘catch’, I am talking about ways in which there is something that you want from the services, which might be recognition of your problems or some kind of treatment, but then there are other things that go along with that that are less helpful, which leaves you in a difficult position.  So it’s a catch – there is something that you want or expect from the mental health services but there’s a catch to it.

Some of the examples I give may seem small, but when you feel marginalised and under pressure small things can become big things. I have often felt that I had to really fight to have my point of view on what is happening in my life accepted by the mental health team.

Something that is difficult for me in writing this piece is that I am writing about care I’ve received from people in the mental health system in the town where I live over the last twenty years. It’s difficult to disentangle the observations I am making about the general situation I’m in with my feelings about my relationship with the people who have been caring for me. In some ways this relationship hasn’t been that bad, and there are times when I have been glad of the support I have had from the services.

At the same time there are also things about my situation as a service user I have found really problematic and frustrating over the years. So I have mixed feelings, but my aim in writing this is to talk about the difficult side of things because this is what I believe needs to be talked about in order for things to change. Namely how there are things about how the services are set up as an institution that can put service users in a difficult position in ways which might not be obvious to those who have not been in this situation.

Catch-43. Limited options and the pressure to comply.

A positive side of a mental health diagnosis is that it is a recognition that you have genuine difficulties coping with life, and that you may need financial or other support. It can also be a gateway to care or treatment. However, it comes with a lot of social pressure to look at your problems in the way set out by the mental health services and to accept their treatments. The range of treatments available can also be fairly limited, especially in this time of cuts and austerity. This can become oppressive if you don’t find the treatment helpful or you have your own ideas about how you want to think about your problems.


I have found it hard to get mental health workers to recognise the problems caused by medication side effects and to recognise my right to make my own decisions about medication.

I remember when I was in hospital twenty years ago being given no choice whether or not to take antipsychotics. Since then I have felt the same pressure more as a strong expectation that as a psychotic patient I should be taking antipsychotics and that if I want to do otherwise, all the pressure is on me to prove that I can do it. This is even though the medication has not stopped me hearing voices and having other psychotic symptoms.

Once when I talked about lethargy and low motivation from antipsychotics, I was told I was depressed and might need antidepressants. At other times it seems that I am being steered away from seeing the medication as part of my problem. There have also been times when it has seemed that they were willing to let me reduce my dose on my own as long as I did not expect them to take responsibility for what I was doing.

What is difficult is living with the sometimes quite distressing side effects day after day for years and not feeling that the way the medication affects you is really understood by others.

In the last year or two, this has changed for the better, partly I think due to my learning how better to communicate my experiences, and the mental health team are saying that they are willing to support me in reducing my medication. This is the first time I have really felt this from them in twenty years, and is something which I am glad of.

I also had CBT sessions, which did help in some ways, but there was no space within this format to be able to talk about wider issues of my identity and the meaning of my life, which were the questions that were troubling me most.

Know your rights.

In law you don’t have to accept any treatment unless you are in hospital or under a Community Treatment Order.

You have the right to request to see a different doctor or mental health nurse. Read about alternative ways of looking at mental health.

Talk to other people about how they cope with difficulties.

Think whether you can adapt what is on offer to meet your needs better, say by weaning down your medication or reinterpreting psychological therapies to work for you.

Catch-13. How others see us

A diagnosis, especially the more serious ones, can affect the way other people see you. People, including mental health workers, may not take you seriously, or may treat you as a lesser person.

It can feel that at a time when you most need to have a sense of being able to make sense of what is happening in your life, that is precisely what is called into question.

You could say that it is not the diagnosis that has this effect but the behaviour that the diagnosis is about, but to me it is about psychiatry lending its weight to a view of a person as individually disordered when there might be other ways of intervening in that person’s life that they would find more helpful.


In my CBT sessions I did not always feel believed when I talked about things that had caused me distress. We often ended up talking about whether things had happened as I thought, rather than about how I felt about what had happened. This might be helpful in small doses, but it felt a bit harsh as the standard response when I tried to talk about things.


Talk about times when you have coped well with something as well as things you are
struggling with. Find friends who value you for who you are and appreciate your point of view on life. Find stories of people who have managed to do things with their life despite having mental health problems, but don’t take this as a standard you have to live up to.

Catch-37. Two ways of telling a story

If you talk about your problems as a medical illness, then most people accept that and leave you alone. In this way a diagnosis works as a kind of social protection. However you then have to think in terms of having some kind of flaw in yourself as an individual person, which can make it harder for you to hold on to a more positive sense of your own identity. Alternatively, it can be more helpful to talk about problems in terms of your life history, or the meaning of your life to you, or your relationships with others. Also, talking in this way can open up the possibility of having conversations with others that change the way you feel. However talking this way can be difficult because people may not accept the story you want to tell, or not want to see how some of your problems may be caused by other people. So either way you talk about yourself has a catch – it’s a difficult choice.


I’ve never liked the term ‘mentally ill’ – it feels like a dismissal of me as a person. ‘Has mental health problems’ is somewhat better because it separates me from the problems. Really I think we need a different language for these things.
There was a time when I tried to open up a conversation with people I know about what was going on in my life when I ended up in hospital some years before, but this didn’t work out so well as I don’t think they understood why it mattered to me to do this.


Remember that the diagnosis is mainly there for the purposes of the doctors and you don’t need to take it as part of your identity. E.g. you can say ‘I have a diagnosis of schizophrenia’ rather than ‘I am a schizophrenic’.

Remember that there are options in how you choose to talk about yourself. Look for language that doesn’t let you down and which the person you are talking to will
relate to. Look for ways of talking about difficult things in your life, outside of the technical language of mental health.

Catch-28. Risking coercion

If you have mental health problems you are encouraged to talk to a mental health worker about them. This can be helpful as a way of getting an outside perspective, and they may also have useful ideas and information. However because these services have statutory powers to treat you in ways which you may not want, or which can actually cause you trauma or distress, there is a catch where the more distressed you are, the more you are risking by talking to them. So at the times you might want the help the most, you are most at risk by accepting it.


My first experience of mental hospital was pretty difficult and left me traumatised. I spent many years living in fear of it happening again, which I am only starting to get over in the last few years. During this time I have been reluctant to ask the services for help when in a crisis for fear of escalation. To be fair, I have talked about some quite difficult things with mental health workers, but there is still that underlying fear that if I am too open about what I am going through, they will take things out of my hands and force me to accept unwanted treatment.


Think about what you want to say before a meeting. Write a list.

Try talking about the easier problems first to see if you can trust them with the harder ones. Trust your own judgement about what you feel safe talking about.

Find an advocate – e.g. a trusted friend – who is willing to help represent you in a crisis.

Remember times when you have been feeling alright, especially if they are not that long ago. Plan for what you might have to do to get to somewhere
better. Realising that you don’t always have the power to control the situation can sometimes help you see how to deal with it in a more realistic way.


Catch-73. What happens behind the scenes?

You meet mental health workers in a face to face meeting, where you are encouraged to open up and talk about your problems. However they are also part of an institution which has its own procedures. They take notes, exchange letters, talk to their colleagues, write reports, and so on. In this way the institution builds up a picture of you which you are not fully aware of and may not agree with. If you ask, you are at risk of being seen as paranoid. This can make you lose faith in your own sense of what is happening in your life, because you are not sure whether your idea of things will be believed by the mental health services. It is the not knowing that makes things difficult as a service user.


I have found that mental health workers tend to conduct their conversations in a way where they are not giving away much information on what they think of what you are saying. As a service user you are left guessing how you are really seen by the institution and the people who work in it.


Talk to other service users to see if they have had similar experiences. Ask your
psychiatric nurse about what notes they are taking and when they talk to other members of the mental health team about you.

At the end of meetings, ask for them to summarise what they think has been said. Ask them to tell you how they see you and your problems. Ask for copies of care plans.

Take a friend to meetings so you can talk about it afterwards and get another viewpoint. Take your own notes on meetings. You can also request your medical notes.


In Conclusion

My main hope in writing this article is that other service users might find some validation of their own experiences, and find ways to deal with the mental health services on a more equal footing. I also hope that mental health workers might be moved to think about how to work in ways which lessen the effects of these catches on their clients.


Invitation to dialogue

I have published this article because I would like to open a dialogue with people about the points I have raised. What I would like to know from people is if they recognise my experience of finding that the way the mental health services are set up as an institution can put us as service users in a difficult position. I.e. what I have called ‘catches’ in the article. I wrote this article to try to set out explicitly some things I have found difficult as a service user which I suspect others also find difficult but which aren’t always spelt out in this way. My feeling is that these are things which most service users would recognise but other people might not do if they hadn’t been in that situation. However I feel somewhat on my own with this so it would be good to know whether other people have had the same experience.

I am also interested in talking about how we can lessen the effects of these catches on our lives. This could be either things we can do as service users or things that people in the services could do to work differently.



Andrew Baxter lives in the North West of the UK and has been a user of mental health services for the last twenty years, after a breakdown in his late twenties. He would be interested to hear what people make of this article –
Email:      contact@highfellow.org
Twitter:   @andyhighfellow


A shorter version of this article was first published in Asylum, the radical mental health magazine 27(4): 2020.
See: https://asylummagazine.org/2020/12/some-catches-of-the-mental-health-system-by-andy-baxter


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Everyone’s Free (to use sunscreen) – Baz Lurhmann

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young


Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who’d rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there’s no reason we can’t entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt. Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Mary Schmich  

Mary Schmich is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. A Georgia native, she has written her column since 1992 and was previously a Tribune national correspondent. She also teaches yoga, plays mandolin and piano, and co-hosts an annual holiday singalong at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

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In Memorium – Len Pennie

Witches of Scotland

“This beautiful poyum by @Lenniesaurus (twitter) was commissioned by the Witches of Scotland to commemorate the presentation of the petition to the Scottish Parliament to seek justice for those women and men accused, tortured and executed as witches in Scotland under the Witchcraft Act 1563-1736.

Visit witchesofscotland.com where you can find the link to sign the petition and listen to our weekly podcast.”

More Len Pennie : @Lenniesaurus
YouTube:                 Miss PunnyPenny
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Spilling Tea on DBT – Leif E. Greenz

Leif E. Greez spills the  beanz and some tea on DBT 
does it direct, forthright and honest,
and shares a few points you might find useful, some good and some not so… 

Leif E. Greenz : [from their website]
BIG MOUTH, Blabbing, brazen, wannabe badass with wicked wanderlust.

Leif E. Greenz:

“Welcome to my twice weekly ramblings from a professional crazy person.”
“A video that I’m kind of scared to make because its controversial and it goes against something that’s become very popular within the field of psychology… and that is DBT – Dialogical Behavioural Therapy.
From my understanding Marsha [Linehan] basically put together a program that worked her, and the program that worked for her is a collage of different skills from different traditions, therapies, that she basically hodge-podged together and called her own.
And if you watch Marsha talk she’ll freely admit to this, no big deal, she simply took skills from different traditions such as Eastern mindfulness, distress tolerance, and mainly CBT skills.

DBT is mainly CBT re-packaged, she took the skills that worked for her, repackaged them through her own system. Everything looks very uniform in the DBT book. She made it so everything would fit within this modular system for modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation ,Interpersonal Relationship.

 … pulled together components of different therapies that worked for her.
And that’s where the first problem comes in.

I’m a DBT graduate, went through over a year of DBT therapy, many, many hours of my life went into it: 
individual sessions for one hour weekly; group session for two-and-a-half hours weekly; on top of that you’re doing daily homework.
So DBT becomes  a huge part of your life, and any time you’re dedicating a whole part of your life there’s going to be a little bit of indoctrination happening. Now that I look back at my own therapist I can see that she was kind of indoctrinated.

When you go to a centre that specializes in one thing  [ for example I was diagnosed as “borderline” by a DBT specific centre] you can damn well expect that you’re going to be diagnosed with the one thing they lik eto diagnose people with.
and if you’re not they’re probably not going to see you.
But these DBT centres want to make money… for every new patient  who comes to the centre makes them hundreds of dollars.
DBT is a money-making machine and any time money is involved people’s intentions are not necessarily the best.
DBT in my mind is built on a false premise:
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder  is, I think, the most flawed diagnosis currently listed in DSM- the most sexist- and is the most misunderstood.  You can watch some of my videos … I also have a video about borderline stigma and how it relates to misogyny. 
DBT was developed around the time BPD diagnosis came to the surface.
So in a way, Marsha – thank you you did something revolutionary , you tried to help people who were “un-helpable” and that’s cool.
I’m not saying that DBT is useless because its certainly not that.

There’s a lot of important skills that you can pick up.
But, just like Marsha went through and hand picked the skills that she wanted…
I kinda did the same.
The only thing that puts her at the top of the Borderline therapy that no one else wants to touch it.

Marsha has been the only one who was like,

“OK I’ll play with this fire. I’m already in this fire, so lets see what can happen.”

She’s become like a cult-y godlike figure who can do no wrong, say no wrong.
Kind of a brain-washer.
Its a bummer.
I think the problem comes when money’s involved.
Therapy needs to be authentic.
Therapy needs to prioritize the patient.
When your goal is to make money your patients are not necessarily going to be getting the best treatment.
I’ve realized Marsha is a business woman:
“Damn this woman is a business woman”‘

She has built an empire on DBT…

A crap ton of money.”

This is the first six minutes or so and  its all THIS good – especially the bit about how DBT does not address trauma
– so if you want more then watch for yourself [see below] …

Video Leif E. Greenz

Does DBT Work? Spilling Tea on Marsha Linehan and Dialectical Behavior Therapy


Leif E Greenz website:

Blabbing, brazen, wannabe badass with wicked wanderlust.

… and bloody  awesome.

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Amanda Gorman | The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman talks to the world.

The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman

Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans, and the world.

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea.
We must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that it isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and the time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country, committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else say, this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade the hill we climb.
If only we dare it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded, but while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated in this truth.
In this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it in its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised.
But whole benevolence, but bold, fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens, but one thing is certain.
If we merged mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
With every breath, my bronze pounded chest.

For there was always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.

We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold limbed hills of the West.
We will rise from the wind swept to Northeast where our forefathers first realized the revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the middle Western States.
We will arise from the sun baked South.
We will rebuild, reconciled and recover and every known nook over our nation.

And every corner called our country.
Our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid, the new dawn balloons, as we free it.
For there was always light.
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.


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Tiger Is Coming – Leenalchi

범 내려온다 범이 내려온다
장림깊은 골로 대한 짐승이 내려온다
몸은 얼숭덜숭 꼬리는 잔뜩 한 발이 넘고
누에머리 흔들며
전동같은 앞다리
동아같은 뒷발로
양 귀 찌어지고
쇠낫같은 발톱으로 잔디뿌리 왕모래를
촤르르르르 흩치며
주홍 입 쩍 벌리고 워리렁 허는 소리
하늘이 무너지고 땅이 툭 꺼지난 듯
자래 정신없이 목을 움추리고
가만이 엎졌것다

A tiger is coming down, a tiger is coming.
A beast is coming down through the deep valley in the pine woods.

His body is freckled.
His tail is stuffed.
which is longer than a grown man’s fathom.

Making the high hills shiver,
his front leg is like a quiver,
his hind paw is like a jar,
Both ears are ripped ajar.
Brandishing his sickle claws,  ‘Charrrr!’ 
He splashes grass roots and pebbles.
Opening his crimson jaws, ‘Worirung!’  he rumbles.
Like the sky falls and the ground settles down,
The turtle hides his head and on the ground bows down.

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