I’m Reinventing Mental Health Care by Putting Patients in Charge


In this piece for The Guardian, Joy Hibbins describes how her experiences of powerlessness as a mental health service user led her to start Suicide Crisis, a center that provides alternative approaches to mental health care.

“A feeling of powerlessness dominated my experience of mental health services. And this feeling was at its worst when I was sectioned. Sectioning replicated aspects of the traumatic experience that initially caused my suicidal crisis. I felt trapped, captive and utterly out of control. I couldn’t escape.

My experience of feeling disempowered when using mental health services is the reason we ensure our clients have a greater degree of control. They decide how often they see us, what kind of care they receive and when they are ready to leave us. Our male clients say they find this particularly helpful. They can feel especially vulnerable when they seek help; putting them in control helps to counteract this.”

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    • Yes, it means hospitalised without consent, or detained. It is a relatively recent expression, dating I think from the 1983 Mental Health Act, and is used because people are detained under a section of the Act. It replaced the term “being certified” which was used in the past. About 58,000 people are sectioned in England a year. Otherwise the word “section” in English has a similar meaning to its meaning in French.

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