The Positive Aspects of Mental Distress

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Many would agree that mental distress is a negative experience for the person affected. However, the testimonies from the contributors to the course module identify positive aspects also. Charis, Rosemary, Andrea, Miranda, Chris and Terry give accounts of their experience of mental distress. This essay will examine those accounts to ascertain whether a positive aspect can be seen. It will consider how their identities have been affected, how change has occurred and how their experiences subsequently affected others. Lessons that can be learned from their accounts for both the service user and provider will also be explored (The Open University, 2008a; 2008c; 2008d). This essay will consider how the views of these ‘experts by experience’ might challenge existing medical approaches used to treat mental distress and promote a more holistic approach (The Open University, 2008b). Using this form of expertise to inform mental health practice will also be discussed to establish the influence and value this evidence holds within mental health services (The Open University, 2008a; 2008e; 2008f). Charis lost her identity and her voice when diagnosed with depression but later realised that this experience is part of her and should be valued. This realisation empowered her to challenge her fears and the fears of others by sharing them. Charis discovered a new identity and no longer hides from her illness. Rosemary spent fifteen out of twenty four months on a psychiatric ward. She has learnt how to value madness and its diversity and this led her to self-advocacy, training others and becoming an expert advisor. She identified with her depression from the perspective of having the strength to survive (The Open University, 2008a, pp. 10-1... ... middle of paper ... ...alth, Milton Keynes, The Open University. The Open University (2008e) ‘DVD1: Block 3 Unit 13, Audio 3:3, Expertise through experience’ [DVD], K225 Diverse perspectives on mental health, Milton Keynes, The Open University. The Open University (2008f) ‘DVD1: Block 3 Unit 13, Audio 3:4, Lessons for practitioners’ [DVD], K225 Diverse perspectives on mental health, Milton Keynes, The Open University. Wallcraft, J; Amering, M; Freidin, J; Davar, B; Froggatt, D; Jafri,H; Javed, A; Katontoka, S; Raja, S; Rataemane, S; Steffen, S; Tyano, S; Underhill, C; Wahlberg, H; Warner, R; Herrman, H. (2011) Partnerships for better mental health worldwide: WPA recommendations on best practices in working with service users and family carers, World Psychiatric Association [Online] Available at: http://www.wpanet.org/detail.php?section_id=7&content_id=1056 (Accessed 5th February 2014).

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