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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - London: Monday October 9, 2006
Sane Reports
Marjorie Wallace
Marjorie Wallace founded SANE
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Building Awareness - Reducing Risk: Mental illness and Suicide

Marjorie's story

One in four people will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime.

But it is a subject that we would rather not talk about in the open.

To commemorate Mental Health week an Inside Out London special breaks that silence.

Founder of Sane, Marjorie Wallace presents one of the films in which she says the money the Government has allocated to mental health services haven't filtered to those who need it the most.

Massive cuts

It is estimated around £8m worth of proposed cuts will be made to mental health services in Southwark and Lambeth alone in the next two years.

Not only will this result in nearly 20 services being shut down but it will also mean the closure of the walk-in emergency clinic.

This service at the Maudsley Hospital is one of the only facilities where people dealing with mental health issues can turn to and get the right sort of help from

Marjorie Wallace believes that the issue of mental health needs to be dealt with earlier.

Inadequate support

The film shows how emergency services are left to deal with the mentally ill, often with tragic consequences.

Twenty-four-year-old Wesley, suffered from depression and self harmed, he was arrested after stealing bread and cheese from a supermarket and sent to Brixton prison.

Eighteen hours later he was found hanging in his cell.

Barber Shop support
Barber Shop support

Marjorie believes cases like Wesley's are preventable tragedies that could be prevented if the system picked up on them earlier.

Psychiatrist Dele Olajide and his team go in search of mentally ill people in barbers, hairdressers and churches.

Projects like this however, could be axed as further cuts to mental health services are made

Special project

The special also looks at a project helping the mentally ill in South London.

In the 1960s the government made major changes in the way it treated mentally ill people.

Care in the Community was introduced which saw an end to large asylums.

One doctor in Sydeham decided patients' needed more support and set up a community garden.

Suggs paid a visit to Sydenham Gardens to discover how the project is helping to raise self esteem and control mental illnesses.

Through personal stories the programme also explores what it's like to suffer from a mental illness and looks at how families cope.

Sarah's story

Sarah Tonin is 38 years old and lives in South London.

Sarah Tonin
Sarah Tonin battled mental illness

For the past 20 years she has battled both with her own mental illness and the health system which is supposed to help her.

Sectioned at the age of 18 she has, in her own words, lost track of years of her life very probably as a result of the ECT (Electro-convulsive Therapy) and the many anti-psychotic drugs she has been prescribed.

However, despite this and the years of self harm which have mentally and physically scarred her she is a vibrant and engaging character.

She is incredibly effusive and describes with great openness the reality of life with a psychotic illness.

What seems to have been a great comfort and release for her in recent years is her relationship with her four legged friend - Lady Gem Barker.

Sarah's tendency to answer questions as "we" is testimony to the strength of this bond as she is referring to her and her dog.

Ever since she was a teenage Sarah has had to live with hallucinations and voices inside her head.

The only way she can make sense of her life is through the close relationship she has with her dog, Gem.

"It has always felt like we are an alien in this world.

"I never felt part of any part - the world has always been a really frightening scary place always - there is no memory feeling like you are part of it..."

"Sometimes I might say we and that is in my head Gem - Lady Gem she knows we are very important to each other.

"It is gem and me together. Gem if u like is a therapeutic because she helps very much.

"Without Gem I wouldn't get out of the door even with her I fail … Sometimes I don't make it out of the door."

"Sarah's story" is a frank and honest insight into the reality of life with serious mental illness and essentially the story of a true survivor of a far from perfect system.

Sydenham Gardens

Since the closure of many of the large asylums many people suffering with mental health problems either walk the streets or sit at home.

With regular visits to their local GP who will keep an eye on their medication and listens to their problems.

At one health centre in Sydenham South London one doctor decided this wasn't enough.

He was worried about their confidence self esteem and ability to climb out of the descending spiral that is mental Illness.

His solution open a community garden and get them working the land.

The results have been remarkable. Inside Out presenter Suggs once himself a failed Landscape Gardener gets down in the dirt with the patients and discovers how their sorrow has been turned to joy

Protest
Mad protest against hospital closure

The Lazarus story

For more than 20 years, Alan and Marilyn Lazarus have been fighting the system.

Not your usual rebels, this couple from North London found their family's life shattered when at the age of 17, their daughter Lorraine developed schizophrenia.

It took years of battling to get her the care she needed, and led the Lazarus' to set up their own charity to look after people like Lorraine.

They have raised millions to build a residential home for their daughter and others, and run a day centre looking after 100 people each week.

Last year Marilyn was told she had breast cancer… the care she got she says was second to none.

So why, she asks, can't it be the same for the mentally ill, who she feels are still treated as second class patients.

See also ...

BBC LINKS
BBC Mental Health site

On the rest of the web
SANE

Sydenham Garden

Cares of Life project in the barber shop

Southwark Mind

Young Minds

MIND

Inquest

Creative Roots

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