Solent Mind was 50 years old on Saturday. We’ll be publicising our celebrations over the next few weeks on this website and elsewhere. Sadly though, our archives from the 60’s and 70’s are either lost or destroyed, but it’s a fair guess that what prompted a group of Southampton people to set up a Mind association in Southampton was linked to the Government’s 1962 Hospital Plan for England and Wales, which Mind broadly supported and which signalled the start of psychiatric hospital closure programme. How ironic that 50 years later we are still debating – in Parliament last week – the closure of 2 psychiatric hospitals in Hampshire, and their replacement by community services – “hospital at home” in the current jargon? And 50 years on Mind is still being asked to comment.
As ever, Mind tries to give a voice to the people who have experienced mental health services for themselves, and there’s a brilliant report called Listening to Experience, an independent inquiry into acute and crisis mental healthcare, published by Mind late last year, which does just that. Above all it carries a vision for acute and crisis care based on human values, with a shift for residential acute care away from the medical ward towards a retreat, with healing and recovery paramount.
In a sense, the debate about precise bedspace numbers is secondary to this. Wherever the balance of hospital to home-based services settles, it’s the culture of mental health services – and public debate – that needs to shift from containment to healing.
Meanwhile, getting back to those lost archives, if anyone out there who’s old enough to remember any dealings they had with Southampton Mind especially pre 1980, as a trustee, a group member, a campaigner, carer or in any other capacity, we would love to hear from you. Do get in touch!