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Rewriting psychosis - the Psychosis HIT's public engagement event

2 February 2018

How can people who experience psychosis, those close to them, health professionals, activists and researchers build a new story about psychosis where thriving and resilience are a potential outcome, rather than hopelessness and stigma?

On 20 January 2018, the Psychosis Health Integration Team (HIT) hosted ‘Rewriting Psychosis’ and brought over 130 people together to consider this question. The event was funded by PolicyBristol, Bristol Health Partners and the University of Bristol Centre for Public Engagement.

A compassionate and insightful dialogue between Psychosis HIT Peer Directors Martha Sneyd and James Robinson opened the event. By talking about their experiences of living with psychosis, Martha and James movingly cast light on issues such as ‘recovery’, acceptance and improving services. These themes returned throughout the day.

A screening of Crazywise, a documentary about different cultures’ definitions and response to psychosis, expanded the dialogue with tales about the potential opportunities for growth that profound psychological experiences can stimulate.

Isabel Clarke, a consultant clinical psychologist and writer on psychosis and spirituality, followed the film with reflections on the evidence about cognition, and how it can help make sense of unusual experiences. This ended with advice on how this understanding could help to improve mental health services, through offering non-stigmatised identities and assisting people to take control of their ‘unshared’ realities.

Isabel then joined a panel alongside Dr Sarah Sullivan (HIT Director), James Robinson and Martha Sneyd chaired by Dr Simon Downer (HIT Director). Diverse questions from the audience covered the impact of environmental factors on people’s experiences, how to design an improved service and how research can investigate the potentially transformative nature of psychosis.

Attendees told us:

“Extremely moving and informative event”
“I'm glad I attended the event…it will help me as a mental health professional”
“I found the large numbers attending very heart warming and the intro with 2 very honest and courageous professionals was really a tremendous start.”
“Thanks so much to everyone who organised this. I hope the network of support grows as it should and as it so clearly deserves to. Many thanks again - I learnt so much and would certainly hope to tap into this kind of network were I in the situation again of needing support or felt able to offer support to others.”

Psychosis HIT Directors said:

“We were thrilled to see feedback from people with lived experience of psychosis who we were really keen to welcome to this event. It also appealed to mental health professionals, researchers and other members of the public. We’ve already heard from one researcher who felt inspired to tackle some new and important questions which were raised as important issues by the audience. Facilitating this broad coalition to improve services, with people with lived experience of psychosis at the heart, is exactly what the HIT is designed to achieve. We’re delighted that this event helped to advance that mission.”

For more information about the Psychosis Health Integration Team, please email oliver.watson@bristol.ac.uk

Rewriting psychosis - the Psychosis HIT's public engagement event
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