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The Positive Aspects Of Mental Distress

2217 words - 9 pages

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. 10-12). Andrea was hospitalised at the age of seventeen, she believes her mental distress was the worst and the best thing that has happened to her. It has given her the gift of valuing life, others and good things. Andrea identified coping strategies that helped her deal with her issues and gain insight into her own mental distress which has helped her identify with others going through similar situations. Chris has a diagnosis of bipolar and Miranda, depression. They gained insight into their illnesses when they realised it was part of their identity. It added another dimension to Chris’ character that would not have developed without the mental illness. Terry’s depression occurred after university; he also experienced a schizophrenic episode. Terry was angry about the lack of support he received from services but when he got involved with the Survivors Movement he was inspired to campaign for change. The contributors found that identifying with a group and hearing how others have overcome similar things resulted in increased self-esteem and the ability to overcome challenges. They also reported that their mental distress has revealed creative gifts that have inspired them to express their feelings in a positive way...

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