Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Suicide and Personality Disorder – a breakthrough?

 
The Wallingford Group, which is part of the Thames Valley Personality Disorder Initiative, has led to 100 per cent reduction in the number of suicide attempts, a 97 per cent fall in psychiatric admissions, a 70 percent fall in the GP attendance and an 88 per cent decrease in the number of self harm incidents.Meanwhile, the Haven in Colchester believes that there has been a significant reduction in service usage among the 110 registered clients who were treated.

Police, probation and prison intervention was reduced by 84 per cent, debt agencies were contacted almost 86 per cent less, A&E usage dropped by 45 percent and there was an 81 per cent reduction in contact with housing and homelessness organisations.

Although these results are preliminary, independent evaluation of all the pilot services is in progress through the Institute of Psychiatry and Imperial College, and will be completed in 2008.

The programme was part of a scheme, initiated through partnership between the Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and the National Institute for Mental Health which developed specialist therapeutic services for people with personality disorders.

Personality disorders affect 10-13 percent of the adult population, are more common in younger age groups (25-44 yrs) and are equally distributed between males and females.

They are a result of abuse, neglect or a traumatic experience, which results in people behaving in ways that others find unusual.

As part of the programme, 11 community pilot services were introduced throughout the country which provided varying treatment and support for adults diagnosable with personality disorders.

The scheme ran from 2003 until March 2007, when responsibility for funding the pilots was passed to their local PCTs.

Maria Duggan, National Personality Disorder Team, Department of Health says:

“These initial results are very encouraging and are a great credit to the individuals who have put so much time and effort into helping those with personality disorders.

In a relatively short space of time, we now have a much better understanding of the services that should be available to those with personality disorders and the benefits these can reap.

We now need to ensure that there is uniform support across the country rather than the patchy provision available at present.

However, what is most heartening is that there is now a greater hopefulness that personality disorder need no longer be a diagnosis of despair.”

All treatments were tailored to the client group and were relatively long term. Breakthrough approaches in this programme included crisis services, respite beds, centres being open 24 hours a day, group analytic approaches, informal outreach and engagement, assessment and therapeutic interventions and a very comprehensive day time therapy which included art therapy.

Art therapy is an important element of the treatments used and very popular with personality disorder clients who are known to be particularly creative.

In recognition of this creative impact, a group of service users and carers from the National Personality Disorder programme steering group formed Personality Plus, a community interest company designed to raise awareness of personality disorder through the arts and other creative media.

In celebration of the completion of the pilot phase of the National Personality Disorder Programme, Personality Plus will hold an exhibition and interactive event at the Tate Modern on 29 October.

This event, supported by an Arts Council Grant and the Tate Modern, will provide a platform for artistic and creative materials, produced by people who have personality disorders or are closely involved with people who have the diagnosis.

The exhibition will then move around the country.

Rex Haigh, psychiatrist with the Thames Valley initiative, says:

“Although personality disorder affects around one in ten of us, everybody has a personality, and nobody is perfect. People can be very unsympathetic to any behaviour they see as ‘different’, but it’s important to understand that personality disorder often stems from some sort of trauma – so what people really need is our acceptance and understanding.

Many people find that art is a really useful way to get to grips with difficult emotions, and we hope that exhibiting some of this artwork will demonstrate that people with personality disorder are not so different from anyone else.”

Reg McKenna, Chairman of The Haven said:

“For many people with personality disorder, the lack of understanding they encounter from others – including family, friends and professional services – means that they become even more isolated.

However, many organisations are leading the way in working with people to prove that it is possible to overcome the difficulties associated with personality disorder, and lead a satisfying and successful life.”

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