Making sense of mental health problems
Making sense of mental health problems

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Making sense of mental health problems

5.1 Alternative approaches

The views presented so far in this course have been concerned with trying to understand unusual or disturbing experiences from a formal treatment point of view, whether that comes from a medical, psychological or a social need perspective. However, these perspectives tend to take a practitioner viewpoint, and there are other ways of approaching experiences such as hearing voices. You will find out more about some alternative approaches to supporting service users if you select to complete The Open University course K314 Approaches to mental health [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , but for now you can look at one possibility for helping Mandy that comes directly from the experiences of people who hear voices themselves.

Activity 11 The Hearing Voices Network

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

The Hearing Voices Network takes a different approach to that in mainstream mental health services or psychiatric practice. In the Network, people who hear voices share their experiences and develop strategies for dealing with them. Have a look at the Getting Help & Support page on the Hearing Voices Network website. Consider the advice and information provided and note down anything that might be helpful to Mandy or someone else who is having a similar experience of hearing a voice or voices.

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The Hearing Voices Network website’s advice could be reassuring to Mandy, because the website highlights that hearing voices or seeing visions is relatively commonplace for people, with approximately 3% of people hearing voices at some point in their lives. But it can be hard to discuss this sort of experience with another person, because hearing voices is stigmatised in the UK and elsewhere. For those hearing voices, the advice offered on the website does not rule out the value of speaking to a GP, but also advises the reader to consider options beyond medication. The website reinforces the message that a person’s GP/doctor should respect the wishes of a person who hears voices, unless the GP believes they are at immediate risk of harming themselves or someone else.

Activity 12

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Having completed this course, how well do you think the medical, psychological and social perspectives can work together to support Mandy? Do they complement or sometimes contradict each other? Is there one perspective you favour more than the others and, if so, why? Write a few paragraphs to sum up your thoughts about this topic.

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