Rethink, formerly the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, provides a huge amount of useful information and other support for patients, family members, therapists, and anyone else involved with mental illness. Here’s a quick review of their website.
Rethink believes that by working together we can create a culture of hope, support and recovery that embodies a belief in people’s own ability to manage, change and improve the quality of their lives.
There’s a focus on recovery and self-management, (where recovery does not mean cure).
Rethink seems to be involved in every imaginable aspect of mental health, and it seems to be significantly independent of NHS and Department of Health influence.
Its free National Advice Service provides advice to individuals as well as a huge amount of information. Indeed, you almost need the advice just to find your way around the information. You can use the service by telephone, e-mail or letter.
Its factsheets are impressive, if a little dry, doing a good job of covering all the angles, though not always explaining every point with simple examples. They are hosted at Rethink’s Mental Health Shop, which might make you think you have to pay, but in fact the PDFs are free to view online or print.
Advocacy and diagnosis
I visited the site recently looking for information about advocacy and diagnosis, which I mentioned briefly in Steps, merry-go-rounds and slides. I found these great factsheets:
The limitations of a factsheet mean that it cannot cover all situations, but all these factsheets lead you to the advice service so that you can understand where your own issues fit.
In my brief look around, I only found a couple of things to fault:
A diagnosis will usually be made by an experienced psychiatrist working with other health professionals.
Hah! If only! Getting a diagnosis by an experienced psychiatrist in the NHS can often be a long battle in itself, and this is one of the issues that brought me to the site looking for independent and public information.
Also, while I am impressed by the focus on recovery and self-management, I wonder how much this is influenced by Rethink’s history as a schizophrenia organization. Various other mental illnesses are curable, where “cure” means “not ill any more, and no longer requiring any treatment.” Perhaps Rethink’s evasiveness on the possiblity of cure is just historical, or perhaps it’s the price of its independence.