Voices of Experience - Narratives of Mental HealthSurvivors
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More About This Title Voices of Experience - Narratives of Mental HealthSurvivors


Voices of Experience contains a wide range of stories written by mental health survivors. The narratives illustrate how survivors have developed self-management techniques and strategies for living which, together, offer a guide to anybody struggling with 21st century life.
  • Explores a wide variety of mental distress experiences, underpinned by many different explanations and beliefs
  • Narrative has been central to the recovery approach and this book presents stories of recovery as well as an appraisal of the concept
  • Challenges simplistic explanations of recovery and offers a critical angle to our understanding of what it means to experience mental health problems
  • Offers guidance for mental health workers and professionals within the context of current mental health policies in the UK


Thurstine Basset is a social worker who now runs his own independent training and development consultancy. His current clients include the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Education not Discrimination at Rethink. He is the Chair of the Mental Health Training Forum, Middlesex University and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Brighton. Together with Theo Stickley, he is joint editor of Teaching Mental Health (Wiley, 2007) and Learning About Mental Health Practice (Wiley, 2008).

Theo Stickley is Associate Professor of Mental Health in the School of Nursing at the University of Nottingham. Previously, he trained and worked in both mental health nursing and counselling. Theo has led on a number of educational research projects in collaboration with people who use mental health services. He uses narrative as a research method, especially amongst people engaging with arts activities. He leads the East Midlands Arts and Health Research Group; he is also a Director of City Arts, Nottingham, and leads the Art in Mind programme of work.


About the Editors vii

Contributors viii

1. Introduction 1
Thurstine Basset and Theo Stickley

Poem: Recovery – Libby Jackson 12

2. The Antidote to Madness: Crystallising out the Real Self 13
Peter Chadwick

Poem: But What is the Cause? – Libby Jackson 20

3. Surviving the System 21
Peter Campbell

Poem: They Come and Go – Dave St. Clair 31

Poem: Fixing Dinner – Dave St. Clair 32

4. Measuring the Marigolds 33
Alison Faulkner

Poem: The Tears I Cry – Mariyam Maule 45

5. Coping Strategies and Fighting Stigma 46
Joy Pope

Poem: Day by Day – Libby Jackson 57

6. Living with the Dragon: The Long Road to Self-Management of Bipolar II 58
Peter Amsel

Poem: In Exile – Mariyam Maule 75

7. Coping Strategies 76
Ruth Dee

Poem: Puppeteer – Esta Smith 84

8. What’s it Like Having a Nervous Breakdown? Can You Recover? 85
Laura Lea

Poem: A Journey beyond Silence – Mariyam Maule 94

9. The Bridge of Sighs and the Bridge of Love: a Personal Pilgrimage 95
Peter Gilbert

Poem: Have You Ever Felt Lonely? – Dave St. Clair, 114

Poem: He Saved My Bacon – Dave St. Clair 115

10. The Holy Spirit – Healer, Advocate, Guide and Friend 116
Richard Lilly

Poem: Mist of Tears – Brice Jones 120

11. CAPITAL Writings 121
Thomas France, Timothy Bird, Richard Love, Kay Phillpot, Howard Pearce, Clare Ockwell and Jude Smith

Poem: Nicely Nicely Nought – Martin Snape 141

Poem: Feel Easy-Fit – Martin Snape 141

12. The Value of Self-Help/Peer Support 142
Caroline Bell, Sarah Collis and Joan Cook

Poem: The Clear Sky – Dave St. Clair 151

13. A Recovery Approach in Mental Health Services: Transformation, Tokenism or Tyranny? 152
Premila Trivedi

Poem: To What Could Have Been – Mariyam Maule 164

14. Stand to Reason 165
Jonathan Naess

Poem: I Am – Libby Jackson 173

15. Walking with Dinosaurs 174
John Stuart Clark

Poem: Negatives and Positives – Libby Jackson 182

16. Conclusions, Discussion and Ways Ahead 183
Thurstine Basset, Joan Cook and Theo Stickley

Poem: The Heart of Humankind – Mariyam Maule 192

Index 193


"The book has much to offer therapists who counsel those recovering and their carers, although its primary
target is other mental health professionals and researchers." (Therapy Today, 1 September 2011)

"They would also read of the value of the support provided by others who demonstrate empathy and compassion. I highly recommend this book and am happy to say a copy is now available in UWE's Glenside library." (University of the West of England, 1 September 2011)

"Appealing to both practitioners and patients, the book features stories and poems on surviving/recovering from mental illness, coping strategies, and recovery/discovery (the latter term preferred by some)." (Booknews, 1 February 2011)

"One of the unique strengths of the book is that it straddles the usual divide between "professional" and "survivor" literature. Whilst the contributors are all service users or survivors, many are also workers or academics, and the thoughtful introduction relates the contributors' ideas to current debates... I would recommend this book to all service users, survivors, mental health workers and students." (Open Mind, July/August 2011)

"First-person narrative accounts of illness form a substantial proportion of the literature... (these) narratives form an interesting and well-edited collection." (Journal of Mental Health, December 2011)

"A most welcome emphasis on the human meaning of mental health problems and the priceless value of human support. This book reminds us of the drama of everyday life and the authors of Voices of Experience invite us to become the heroes of our own stories".
—Professor Phil Barker, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK