Soteria Network

 

We are a network of people in the UK promoting the development of drug-free and minimum medication therapeutic environments for people experiencing 'psychosis' or extreme states. We are part of an international movement of service users, survivors, activists, carers and professionals fighting for more humane, non-coercive mental health services.

People who hear voices, have visions or experience reality in different ways to those around them — and become overwhelmed by their experiences — are often referred to as experiencing 'psychosis'. We believe that people can and do recover from difficulties which tend to be categorised under the term psychosis. This recovery can be with, without and sometimes despite psychiatric intervention.

Conventional psychiatry tends to regard 'psychosis' as part of a serious mental illness such as 'schizophrenia', 'bi-polar disorder' or 'psychotic depression'. We recognise that 'psychosis' can be extremely distressing to the person experiencing it and to those around them. However, we do not necessarily see psychosis as a bio-medical condition that requires set medical interventions. Rather, we see it as an acute personal crisis, marked by a range of extra-ordinary experiences, which may result from a number of factors, including trauma, psychological, neurophysiological, existential, spiritual, social and environmental. Fundamentally though, we believe that there is meaning in the experience.

Like many other organisations in Europe and America, we draw inspiration from the practices of Soteria House and the work of Loren Mosher and his colleagues. We continue to look for opportunities to develop and enrich this work, whilst holding to the broader principles of Soteria.

For more information on the work and philosophy of the Soteria Network please read our booklet (LINK TO BOOKLET?)

Though the Soteria Network is actively engaged in promoting progressive approaches to people experiencing extreme states, distress, 'breakdown' or 'psychosis', and is working towards setting up a Soteria House in the UK (see our Local Groups pages), we do not currently offer any services directly to people in distress at present. However, we do aim to respond to all enquiries as quickly as possible.

Charity Commission: We are a registered UK charity.  Our Charity Registration number is 1146183. 

 

 

Board of Trustees

 

Jen Kilyon

Work in progress

Jen Kilyon
Jen Kilyon

 

Dawn McCarrick (Non-Trustee, Acting Treasurer, Admin support)

Dawn works with Mervyn in the Centre for Community Mental Health, Birmingham City University, as Centre Administrator.She took on the role of Soteria Network’s Acting Treasurer in February 2012.Dawn has been involved with Soteria Network since organising the inaugural conference in 2005.  She also assists with various admin duties, and maintaining the website.

 Dawn McCarrick

Dawn McCarrick

Professor Mervyn Morris (Chairperson)

Work in progress

Mervyn Morris

Mervyn Morris

Paula Quick

I have been a Trustee since 2007.My increasing concern on the over reliance of drug therapy in psychiatry and the lack of any real alternatives led me to seek an organisation such as Soteria.My professional background is in General Nursing which I began in 1972.During my nursing career I observed some practices in psychiatry that I found unacceptable.  Whilst working at a community project in Sheffield, McMurphys (user-led day service for under 40’s) I met Prof Alec Jenner; he was an inspiration.I soon became involved in Asylum, an anti-psychiatry mag (edited by Prof Jenner) and was on the editorial panel.I was co-ordinator at Sheffield Mental Health Project for 10 years providing independent advocacy support for hundreds of people during hospital admissions and in the community. It was a massive awakening as to the enormous injustice and abuse that people can face simply because they have a psychiatric diagnosis.My colleague and I set up a social firm ‘It’s My Life’ providing support for families with a mental health or learning difficulty whose children had been taken into local authority care.I am currently working with Equalities Hub Sheffield City Council and a local group called ‘Free Voice’ who run a monthly Forum.In Nov 2012 I set up a local Soteria group. We meet monthly in Chesterfield and welcome any supporters.Please do get in touch if you would like to get involved.I have studied Ayurvedic medicine for the past 5 years and continue to explore alternative approaches to healing.I have a degree B.A. Hons.

Pete Sanders

Work in progress

Pete Sanders
Pete Sanders

Shirley Smith

My experience of mental health and ‘standard’ treatments began in early childhood as I witnessed my dear now sadly departed mother suffer severe emotional distress/dis-ease throughout her adult life. Her treatment at the hands of psychiatry ranged as widely/wildly as her many diagnoses from whatever new drug appeared on the market to terrifying and barbaric electric shock ‘therapy’ in reaction to whatever new mental condition suddenly emerged.This formed the basis of my understanding that there is a great need for a caring and empathic alternative.I believe we are made up of many elements and we strive to achieve our best in our emotional, mental and physical health. I strongly believe and experience every day that human beings Feel First.Every person deserves to have choices at times of mental distress. To be heard, acknowledged and accepted as individuals; rather than being assessed and diagnosed with generalized labels from generalized criteria that often prescribe medication or treatments; treatments that can alter and stop the natural human process of healing, emotionally and mentally.I am a Person-Centred Psychotherapist and manage a prison counselling service for Warwickshire charity, Safeline.I work in schools, with families, and run a small private practice. I’ve worked in the criminal justice sector with vulnerable people; attended ward rounds with clients; and worked with people diagnosed with a variety of mental health conditions.

Margaret Turner (Secretary)

Margaret Turner
Margaret Turner

Ever since I can remember I have felt that all experience, however distressing, strange, confusing or extreme, was meaningful, with the potential to be made sense of. This way of seeing was supported by personal experience of finding a way through anorexia; by my Social Work training; and especially by some amazing people I’ve worked with.  The crisis service I joined in 1985 shared this outlook. However later experiences as a social worker in community mental health settings led me to have serious reservations about the mainstream system with its bio-medical approach. Consequently hearing Loren Mosher speak about Soteria in 2003 was a revelation and inspiration: I joined Soteria Network; now as its Secretary I try to respond to messages to Soteria as well as I can. In 2014 I helped launch Soteria South-West. I also believe in the value of the natural world and the arts for health and well-being.

Rowland Urey

Rowland Urey
Rowland Urey

I have lived experience of Mental Distress manifesting itself as OCD, which resulted in me spending one year on the psychiatric ward. Following on from this experience I became involved locally in day centres. In 2000 I became a member of Service User Reference Panel at the North West Mental Health Development Centre, from this I became involved in the development of recovery with Piers Allot and also the North West Mental Health Task Force resulting in 2003 being awarded from NIMHE National Award Making a Difference in Mental Health. From 2004/2006 with NICE helped to produce first ever National Guidelines on OCD.I have strove to bring about with others a Cultural and philosophical sea change in the way that Mental Health Services are delivered. I believe Soteria with its ethos and values is the best way forward for a dialectical understanding of the Human condition and psyche.   

Steven Watson

Steven Watson
Steven Watson

I was diagnosed with mental health 'problems' in late 30’s. If I have seen 6 psychiatrists I have had 7 diagnoses. Got involved with activism through my support provider's service user forum, I’ve provided training for their support workers; been a part of their Quality Assurance team; co-hosted events for Manchester Supporting People; and helped produce a film, 'Whose Life is it Anyway?'. I had a long time involvement with Stockport's service user forum, now SUNS, and Stockport User Friendly Forum until it became an oxymoron. I was part of Stockport's Local Implementation Team for several years and was a service user rep on the board of Pennine Care NHS Trust. The thing I am most proud of is helping deliver and set up Stockport MIND's crisis hospital alternative - CAHS. I was a part of the group that provided training for Greater Manchester's Support Time and Recovery workers. I hoped this would prove a long-term platform but it was not to be. I helped create and sat on the initial Advisory Committee of Stockport's Wellbeing Centre (Sadly defunct in its original form).I have also been a part of vetting contract bids for Stockport Social Services and Pennine Care.  All things have a season; particularly in the mental health arena. Service user groups turn in and on themselves and outstay their welcome. Individuals also. I am guilty of that myself. I finally had to walk away and spend a couple of years out. I then decided to go back into education studying something as far removed from mental health as possible.If anything is to be achieved in mental health it is the clients; patients; service users; however you want to call us who must take it on. Everyone else should be an adjunct and support. If you haven't been there, you haven't got the tee-shirt and you haven't got a clue.I am a part of Soteria because it has an ethos I can identify with and has an empirical evidence base; things that mainstream psychiatry in large part lacks. To steal from my fellow trustee Rowland Urey: 'If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got'. It hasn't worked for a couple of centuries. It is time for something different that does.

 

Soteria Network is a registered UK charity: 1146183

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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