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Mental Health service provision and Independent Advocacy [Mar. 31st, 2010|06:46 pm]
Albion Unbound

A couple of weeks ago I met Peter Smith, manager of the Mental Health team for an organisation called Independent Advocacy. Below are my notes.

Notes from meeting Peter

Mental Health Advocate – works for an organisation called Independent Advocacy

Job comprises of three areas of responsibility, reflected the three funding streams that fund his role

• Mental health providers have a legal duty to inform new patients (i.e. those that have been sectioned) that they have a legal right to have an independent advocate; this is required to be within two weeks of admittance

• In-patients (mainly) who have a legal right to an independent advocate to give advice and be present at review boards and the like

• People in the community

The relevant funding is ring-fenced by Govt.

Independent Advocacy

- three main units
Learning Disabilities
Older People
Mental Health

- catchment area of Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
- i.e. up to 1.2 million people
- 5.5 posts cover this
- The advocates also act as watchdogs, feeding back to service providers and Govt.
- 1200 cases per year for the Mental Health team – equivalent to one new case per day per advocate
- Advocates average 1.9-2.1 hours per client per visit
- One significant area of activity for the advocates with people in the community is dealing with Employment and Support Allowance (what used to be Income Support) – review boards and medicals, for which the criteria of ability to work are predominantly physical, ignoring mental health problems, resulting in a lot of mental health service users getting their benefits cut

Mental Health Act

- 1983, partly superseded by the 2007 Act which introduced Community Treatment Orders – equivalent to a Section 3
- CTO require 2 Consultant Psychiatrists

Section 2 – 28 days
Section 3- 6 months

25% of the general population will access mental health services at some point in their life for a serious mental illness

30% of all G.P visits are about mental health issues

Crisis Team

Consultant psychiatrist
Local psychiatric nurses (Community Psychiatric Nurse)
Community Mental Health social worker

Private mental health (residential) facilities – tend to provide specialist services

Rethink – what was known as The National Schizophrenia Fellowship

New Horizons – what was the National Services Framework

- established statuary provision of Crisis Houses
- primarily intended as a measure to help people stay out of hospital, i.e. before it comes to a Section
- but community teams do use them to get patients out of hospital
- Coventry doesn’t have one, though it is supposed to – Warwickshire has 2, Solihull has 2
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Top of the World/ Three Sisters [Mar. 20th, 2010|07:18 pm]
Albion Unbound

Top of the World by small independent (Liverpudlian) touring company Spike Theatre - 75 minute devised piece with 3 actors, retelling the story of Edmund Hilary and the first successful scaling of Everest. Humour, lots of inventive stagecraft (ladders, sheets, key props), audience participation.Very actorly, but good. In discussion afterwards actors talked about devising process, relationship with the audience and how the show marked a new direction in choosing real stories for the origins of shows. Ellen Terry studio theatre, 3/3/10

The Three Sisters - Filter Theatre in collaboration with the Lyric Theatre, touring production at the Warwick Arts Centre, Sat 27th Feb 2010
Didn't think I was going to enjoy this, going more for benefit of me edication as anything else - but it turned out to be the best thing I'd seen since Phaedra last summer. A 'Brechtian' production, attempting to defamiliarize the familiar" - no scenery beyond props, incongruous objects such as bar-heaters but most obviously the audio equipment - music, song, mics, stands & cables at key locations on stage, along with the presence of the sound/lighting desk and techie onstage... all seemed a bit self-conscious as we were waiting for it to start, but when it did, I revised my opinion. Really good overall, really brought the play to life, including the humour, which I had read about in relation to Chekhov's plays but not understood till seeing this production. Definitely be interested in seeing more of the company's work, and to visit the Lyric too.
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British theatre still in Oxbridge thrall? [Feb. 2nd, 2010|02:00 pm]
Albion Unbound

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Plays seen recently [Feb. 2nd, 2010|01:49 pm]
Albion Unbound

Days of Significance - Roy Williams - NT touring production at the Belgrade (main house), Nov 09

Babylone - David Eldridge, his adaptation of Jean-Marie Besset's play - Belgrade B2, Nov09

The Visit - Friedrich Durrenmatt - 2nd yr theatre student production, ET theatre, Dec09

The Skin of Our Teeth - Thornton Wilder - 2nd yr theatre student production, ET theatre, Dec09

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour - Tom Stoppard, NT (Olivier), Jan 23rd 2010

Land of the Dead/ Helter Skelter/ The Furies - Neil LaBute - touring production, Belgrade B2, Jan 28th 2010

The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil - television adaptation/ recording of play in performance, 1974 'Play for Today'
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Another gem from Homer [Jan. 27th, 2010|12:29 pm]
Albion Unbound

[On a visit to the zoo, where the seals aren't performing] I've seen plays that were more interesting than this - honest to God, plays!

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stuff [Jan. 14th, 2010|12:55 pm]
Albion Unbound

Been reading Mary Barnes - the autobiography, and then David Edgar's play Mary Barnes again.  Key texts as I pursue the 'mad' side of the project.  And I finally bucked up the courage - and had opportunity, to be fair - to ask the guy who lives in my Housing Co-operative who I suspected was in mental health services, and indeed turns out to be a Mental Health Advocate, and is willing to talk to me and put me in touch with patients and possibly the local psychiatric services, at some level.  Our initial conversation proved to me that I'm not quite sure about how to talk to people about my reasons or expectations.  What are they going to make of a so-called playwright asking them about 'madness' and mental health... and worse, a half-arsed academic who's read Foucault and some anti-psychiatry.  So I've been doing a lot of thinking about some sensible questions that won't waste people's time, and to try and explain myself properly.  And succinctly!  But it's good progress on this side of the project as Mick turns up the heat a bit,starting to get a bit more focused now, as you may have seen from the other recent posts.  We're truly past the half-way point now, with formally less than 3 years to complete - the milestone was this New Year as the deadline date for finishing is the 31st Dec 2012 - and Supe has indicated that he will expect me to have done so, as the university is cracking down on potentially wayward PhDs, and rightly so.  I need deadlines and that means less than 3 years, and I need to get on it.
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reminder [Jan. 12th, 2010|12:59 am]
Albion Unbound

That I really do need to read Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis as Mick suggested at our meeting. I was thinking the other night about why I've been so resistant to reading Kane (beyond Blasted, which I have read - and I realized that the aura of tragedy and revered brilliance reminds me of how annoyed at Sylvia Plath fanboys (and girls) I used to get as a teenager. Probably highly unfair to Sarah Kane
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the public sphere/ theatre as a public forum [Jan. 8th, 2010|02:54 am]
Albion Unbound

This was my latest area of investigation and thought before the recent meeting - trying to formalize the argument as theatre as a public forum via Habermas's idea of the public sphere. Strong parallels with Bakhtin in the  presentation of a key historical (epochal) context - i.e. the medieval public square - as the epitome of free public speech. The very specific historical context from which Habermas derived it from (limited in class and size) to modern re-interpretations of the idea and its contemporary forms, emphasis on multiple public spheres.  How does this relate to the argument about theatre as a public forum?

Also leads us on to how we're defining 'the public', and holding theatre to be a 'public forum' - as philosophical construct, social and intellectual ideal, or as social fact?  What does it mean to concieve of a 'theatrical public' if theatrical audiences are predominantly white, middle-class and middle-aged, as John McGrath argued polemically  - along with its practitioners and the insitutions of British theatre, lest we forget to question our own position and activity in this project!  A more objective and direct perspective would be to try and source some proper demographics of British theatre audiences, however limited - must explore. 
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finalizing a specific context [Jan. 8th, 2010|02:08 am]
Albion Unbound

One of the more important strands of the meeting that I forgot to mention in the report, relating to what I'd already said in the plan for progress. Research and argument need to be structured and defined in a specific, stated context. In the meeting Mick re-emphasized 'political theatre' as the key context for the overall project. Set context for research, e.g. contemporary British theatre of the last 30 years, with Mary Barnes as one of its end terms? (And what does this context entail for Albion Unbound - is it 'political theatre'?)
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Softcops and Fen, Caryl Churchill [Jan. 8th, 2010|01:38 am]
Albion Unbound

OK, so Softcops is obviously relevant, as Churchill says it came about after reading Foucault, who expressed what she had been thinking about for a play in Discipline and Punishment. Hence Softcops - the internalization of surveillance, though Churchill takes the opportunity to place the play at the time of the shift from brutal public punishment to the first origins of surveillance - 19th century France. Desribed as 'Foucault rendered as a music-hall turn and Victorian freak show' - a TLS reviewer, which I'm not so sure about. Tries to balance the spectacular and the didactic, to make drama from an important argument about society in a historical context, and to make it good theatre... so very relevant, especially as I already know Foucault and that argument already...


I enjoyed Fen in the same volume much more, and is the one that I would like to see in production - darker, political in the sense that it originated from a workshop in a village in the Fen, and portrays the hardships of the agricultural workers there, the strictures of rural political economy - but not didactic, and not naturalistic or documentary - dark undertones of abuse, despair and murder descend into superstition and the supernatural. Better drama, better theatre - or more what I'd like to see, and closer to what I'd like to do in my own play. Different style, different form, different intention.
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