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Service User Projects

11 Nov 2014 Treatments Campaign: Hafal launches new guide to treatments for serious mental illness

As part of its campaigning to promote choice and quality in treatments for mental illness, Welsh mental health charity Hafal has launched a new guide to treatments designed to give service users and carers key information on both psychological therapies and medications.

Hafal’s 2014 treatments campaign is supported by Bipolar UK, Diverse Cymru and the Mental Health Foundation and aims to empower people with a serious mental illness in Wales and their carers to have their say on the services they receive – and to make an informed choice about their care and treatment.

The new guide includes an overview of the full range of treatments for serious mental illness including:

  • In-depth psychotherapy
  • Counselling
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood Stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • “Complementary” Medicines.

Hafal’s Deputy Chief Executive Alun Thomas said: “People will have undoubtedly heard much about our Let’s Get Physical! 2014 campaign which promoted physical health for service users and carers and was an example of our campaigning for a holistic approach to recovery.

“But we are also aware that direct treatments matter too – and we need to give these treatments due focus.

“So we have worked with service users and carers to produce a guide which gives a straightforward overview of the psychological and medical treatments available to people with a serious mental illness – and provides key tips to users and carers on how to negotiate with services the best possible package of treatments. Hopefully it will also serve as a useful tool for professionals when they come to discuss options with their patients.”

Service user Karen O’Callaghan said: “The patient should be able to make a choice about the treatment they receive. They should have information about all the available treatments and the way forward should be a joint decision between the patient and doctor. The new guide will help patients to make informed decisions – I hope it gets used by a lot of people!”

Service user Peter May said: “Most people with a serious mental illness will be offered medication. But both medication and psychological therapies can play important roles in directly treating mental illness. We want psychological therapies to be more available to people with a serious mental illness in Wales. There should be a priority for psychological therapies to be available to people who experience a psychotic illness and who are in greatest need.”

Service user Lee McCabe said: “If you’re not happy with your medication or if it is having some major side-effects, you should bring it up when you have your medication review or come to review your care plan. You should have the opportunity to try a different medication – and to find the medication that best suits you. I was put on a different antipsychotic medication and that made a vast difference – both in reducing the paranoia and in being able to achieve my goal of going into employment. Up until then the side-effects of my medication were horrendous, whereas with the new medication the side-effects weren’t so bad.”

Service user Dave Smith said: “There should be a full range of psychological interventions available to people with serious mental illness. People receiving secondary mental health services are likely to need specialist psychological interventions, but are also likely to have primary care needs too – for issues such as anxiety and depression.”

Carer Norma Chapelle said: “If medication is having an adverse affect on the person you look after it is your duty as a carer to speak up. Don’t worry about being wrongly seen as interfering. If mental health professionals, service users and carers work as a team we can ensure service users get the right medication.”

The new guide is based on the experiences of Hafal’s clients and Members, and charities Bipolar UK, Diverse Cymru and the Mental Health Foundation provided support and advice in its development.

• Download the new guide here