|Mental Health Support Group
at Cambridge University
|Student-Run Computing Facility > Societies > MHSG|
The Mental Health Support Group at Cambridge University was formed to offer people who had recovered from mental illness a supportive, and informal, venue to share experiences, and to work for better treatment. It was voluntary and aimed at staff, or students, who had recovered from diagnosed mental illness. What follows are: some background; a brief history of the group; and conclusions drawn from that experience. Also below are a few selected links, and references.
The lifetime incidence of mental illness is around 1 out of 5 people (Rethink, MIND, SANE). In England around 600,000 adults are in contact with mental health services at any one time (Nat. Inst. Mental Health in Engl., 2005). And, about 1 out of 100 people have manic depression and a further 1 in 100 have schizophrenia or psychoses at some time in their lives. However, there are only around 15,000 adults in long-term care for mental health (NHS, Hansard). These figures suggest vast numbers become ill and interact with the health services. However most of the people who are affected go on to recover and disappear back in the community. Compared to numbers affected, the numbers in care are very small.
HISTORY OF THE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT GROUP
We advertised the group meetings widely within the University, and persisted with public meetings for a few years. A handful of sincerely interested people responded each time - and came to meetings or corresponded. People who joined had all had experience of the most severe illnesses. Hence it seems likely that people who came to meetings or contacted the group had adjusted to the idea of themselves having been ill, rather than not being able to admit that to themselves.
Despite the publicity, the group never really got to a self-sustaining size and there were too few members to whom one might delegate responsibilities. Thus, the group did not get far with other activities, apart from volunteering 'encouragement meetings' to patients near the end of their stay in Fulbourn Hospital (which was not taken up).
Websites with Useful Information - UK
Support Groups in Cambridge
You may be interested in the attached leaflet (79k pdf) on "Avoiding Relapse". This was written by the list manager on the basis of: a survey of mental health literature; a group discussion with patients and CPN's (community psychiatric nurses); and comments of experienced staff. It was reviewed by staff at the Birmingham Early Intervention Centre (who have written on relapse prevention);
Sites on Recovery
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Sites on Recovery