The Week in Radio: World Service's The Truth About Mental Health, showed there are many ways to heal the human mind

 

"It was a very small room, 10 by 15 feet, without light, without a door," said the mayor of Bangalore, recalling the moment last October when he watched a man with schizophrenia being rescued from 10 years of solitary confinement in his family home outside the Indian city. "(There was) one very small window, it was kept only to feed him," the mayor continued. "You wouldn't even call it a room as there was no exit. There was no way for him to get out. It was not a room that was locked, there was a wall all around him."

On the World Service's new series, The Truth About Mental Health, we learned what can happen when state-funded psychiatric care isn't available to all. We discovered how, in certain parts of the world, those with mental illness are silenced, hidden away, imprisoned.

But Claudia Hammond's programme, the first of six episodes, wasn't merely about horror stories taking place thousands of miles away. It was about the best ways to heal the human mind, while looking at the varying social, cultural and religious influences that lead to different approaches to treatment.

In the developing world half of those who have psychosis receive no professional help, and instead are chained or locked up. Which, of course, sounds barbaric to Westerners accustomed to the ministrations of drug-wielding psychiatrists. But, asked Hammond, who is to say what is the correct treatment? And who decides what's normal and what isn't?

This was an immense, complex and sensitive subject that Hammond handled with pragmatism and care. Listening to the testimony of doctors, carers and those with often severe psychiatric problems proved both harrowing and enlightening. The discussions touched upon terminology (in India there is no comparable word for depression), the stigma of mental illness and the tension between different cultures and the Western medical model.

We also heard from Angela, the daughter of a Jamaican mother and a Pentecostal pastor father from Grenada, who has bipolar affective disorder and believes her manic phases are "a gift from God", and the result not of delusion but of her "entering into a spiritual dimension". It was a belief that her carers took seriously. Angela talked calmly and rationally about these episodes that she conceded required assistance from other people and drugs to help keep her safe. She likened her condition to being given a pair of roller skates as a six-year old and like a six-year-old on wheels, she said, "I need supervision."

The parents of Keshava, the schizophrenic man from Bangalore, had spent years struggling with his violent outbursts, his compulsive stripping off, his ceaseless shouting. A decade earlier he had seen some local psychiatrists who gave him medicine and sent him home. The strain of their son's behaviour took its toll as the family was increasingly treated as outcasts by the rest of the village. So, in desperation, they built a wall around him. Their story underlined the fear that can accompany mental illness, just one of the attitudes that Hammond's series seeks to address.

Radio 4's You and Yours reported on a mental-health development closer to home, the practice of prescribing books for those with mild to moderate psychiatric problems. Patients seeking help from GPs or psychiatrists, we discovered, are increasingly dispatched to the local library with a reading list.

This idea was not, as one might suspect, the masterplan of a phalanx of dodgy self-help gurus but of qualified clinical psychiatrists. As a representative from the charitable organisation The Reading Agency pointed out: "[The library is] a community space, it's not stigmatised. nobody knows why you're there. But at the same time coming to the library can be the first step on the road to recovery."

twitter.com/FionaSturges

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future