Last week Scotland’s First Minister made a major policy speech in which mental health provision featured prominently. To coincide with this announcement, I exhibited ‘Face to Face: Stories from the Asylum’ in the Members’ Area of the Scottish Parliament. Many MSPs stopped while I was staffing the exhibition and all engaged in enthusiastic and well-informed discussion about the people in the photographs, their lives, their conditions, and their fate. I had a particularly interesting discussion with Clare Haughey, Scottish National Party MSP for Rutherglen and currently the Minister for Mental Health. Clare is a former Mental Health Nurse and I mentioned that one of my recent podcasts was an interview about this important job with Gerry Hastie, currently a MHN in west Fife. This and all my other podcasts are free to listen or download via Soundcloud or iTunes:
My sponsor was Edinburgh Southern MSP, Daniel Johnson, in whose constituency I live. Daniel supported the exhibition to help me raise awareness of modern mental ill-heath and healthcare, using the lessons of history. Daniel is also Justice spokes-person for the Scottish Labour Party and, like me, is closely interested in mental health issues in prisons.
Prisons contain a much higher proportion of people suffering from the full spectrum of mental disorders, than the general population. I have mounted the photo exhibition in a number of Scottish prisons in collaboration with Fife College (provider of education to all 13 Scottish Prison Service jails) and I also deliver lectures on the history of psychiatry to convicts and remand prisoners under the auspices of Cell Block Science, a major University of St Andrews project to educate prisoners about science.