Obviously a cross-generational project, one that will be going on long after I’m dead…
Just thinking about it is enough to overwhelm my mind.
The elephant in the community… the thing that is so big no one dares address it.
This is probably unfair comment, because there are people working to improve Irish mental health services all the time. There are people whose only job is to improve the quality and quantity of such services. I’ve met them.
I’m not entirely sure whether that’s how they see their job.
The traditional picture of medical services that people carry round with them
is one in which they, the patient, is directed by a powerful doctor. The doctor has all the expertise. The patient is vulnerable, clueless, unwise, thick, unsure, uneducated, fragile… in comparison with a highly skilled and well-connected expert.
That’s a bit strong, but I’m using vibrant paint to decorate the canvas.
On the other hand, the latest research suggests that patients get better quicker when they are involved in diagnosing themselves. When they cooperate with doctors as equal partners…
Patients do best when they feel themselves to be the equal of the doctor. This is what the latest evidence suggest. Doctors don’t know best.
Doctors have expertise, education, qualifications, experience and each of these is valuable…
but each of these can be a disability for the doctor. Doctors can be seduced into believing that they know best how to treat this patient. Doctors can forget that each patient is unique. Generalisations from other patients, and from learning gleaned from treating other patients, can mislead doctors into thinking that they know best.
The patient is the one with the issue, the one with the relevant personal experience… absolutely vital to the process of diagnosing what to do next.
This is why I support the development of the National Service Users Executive (NSUE).