Making Life Better

Category: 2gether“Making Life Better” is the slogan of the curiously named 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire’s mental health trust, which sent me a copy of its Making Life Better Members’ Magazine for September 2010.

Although the Trust offers an e-mail version of the magazine, I cannot find a copy on its website to link to. If you want your own copy, it looks like you’ll have to e-mail them.

The name of the Trust seems perhaps more appropriate for a dating agency, and just to cause more confusion there is an unrelated company in Cheshire called The Together Trust. Anyway, 2gether has just held a competition to find a new name for its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), so I’m looking forward to an equally daft choice.

The Greyfriars Unit

The magazine’s lead story is about a new acute mental health hospital that was opened in July. It has ten individual bedrooms — so does that really mean it can only treat ten patients at a time, I wonder? For £3 million that would not seem great value, though I do not know what hospitals normally cost, and this one does look a bit like a set from Star Trek, judging by the photograph. Again, I cannot find a photograph on the web to link to.

The new unit incorporates a variety of technological gee-whizzery, but there is no indication of how any of it relates directly to psychiatry. I suppose that if technology helps with things like security and relieving patients’ boredom then it will have an indirect benefit on outcomes, but it remains to be seen.

Eating Disorders

Another big story is the establishment of a team of four clinicians and two support workers to treat eating disorders in children and adolescents by providing intensive support to them and their families at home, in conjunction with regular attendance at a clinic.

An accompanying article about eating disorders points out that they are very hard to treat, especially in young people who might not see themselves as ill. It suggests that the prevalence of eating disorders in adolescent girls is “up to 6% at any one time”. 6% is one in every sixteen girls, so that is nearly one in every classroom on average in a mixed school, or two in every classroom in a girl’s school.

There is also a drop-in support group for eating disorders, though the magazine does not say where it meets and, yet again, I cannot find any information about it on the Trust’s website. There was a piece in the press about it, though, that reveals the location.

Overall impressions

My impression is of a very nice magazine, an interesting read. But the information in the magazine is not is not always easy to find on the Internet, which is where I would look if I really wanted to know something, and that makes me wonder whether the magazine and the website are contracted out to different media companies that do not talk to each other.

Also, the tone of the articles does not make it seem like they are from an NHS Trust that actually treats illness. They stop short of mentioning specifics, which makes them read as if they have been written by journalists who have no specialist knowledge. There is little mention of psychiatry, or recovery, or any kind of outcomes. In fact, the only specific outcome that I remember reading about was that someone died from a brain haemorrhage — that can’t be right.

On reflection, I think the magazine is trying to be too nice and ends up being evasive. Mental illness is a serious matter that deserves a more serious approach.


About Rod

Chairman of the Gloucestershire charity Suicide Crisis, Vice Chair of Relate Gloucestershire & Swindon, and an enthusiast for public involvement in the NHS.
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