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Voices of Experience: Narratives of Mental Health Survivors

ISBN: 978-0-470-68363-7
212 pages
October 2010
Voices of Experience: Narratives of Mental Health Survivors (0470683635) cover image
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
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About the Editors.


1. Introduction (Thurstine Basset and Theo Stickley).

Poem: Recovery – Libby Jackson.

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

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

3. Surviving the System (Peter Campbell).

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

Poem: Fixing Dinner – Dave St. Clair.

4. Measuring the Marigolds (Alison Faulkner).

Poem: The Tears I Cry – Mariyam Maule.

5. Coping Strategies and Fighting Stigma (Joy Pope0>

Poem: Day by Day – Libby Jackson.

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

Poem: In Exile – Mariyam Maule.

7. Coping Strategies (Ruth Dee).

Poem: Puppeteer – Esta Smith.

8. What's it Like Having a Nervous Breakdown? Can You Recover? (Laura Lea).

Poem: A Journey beyond Silence – Mariyam Maule.

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

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

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

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

Poem: Mist of Tears – Brice Jones.

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

Poem: Nicely Nicely Nought – Martin Snape.

Poem: Feel Easy-Fit – Martin Snape.

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

Poem: The Clear Sky – Dave St. Clair.

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

Poem: To What Could Have Been – Mariyam Maule.

14. Stand to Reason (Jonathan Naess).

Poem: I Am – Libby Jackson.

15. Walking with Dinosaurs (John Stuart Clark).

Poem: Negatives and Positives – Libby Jackson.

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

Poem: The Heart of Humankind – Mariyam Maule.


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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.

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"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

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