What this episode really focussed on was the future for patients of Broadmoor, it looked into the options they have as they recover.
Mental illness is an illness, therefore it is treatable. It can get better (or worse) and people can even recover completely. This means that even the patients on the highest security wards could eventually be treated and released back into the community.
I think this is something that will unnerve a lot of people, they see Broadmoor as somewhere ‘mad’ people are sent to be locked away. Just like anyone who is sent to prison for murder, these patients will eventually be released. In a way, surely they’re safer than a mentally healthy person who has committed a crime and gone to prison?
If the mental illness is what’s making them commit crimes, then treating it will mean that they don’t offend any more.
As they get better they’re moved from post to post, gradually being sent to wards that have more freedom and less security. Eventually they will be sent to units outside Broadmoor.
Something the programme also highlighted was the risk faced by staff and the training that they are given. It showed the nurses being taught how to control patients using riot techniques. Staff at Broadmoor at taught techniques that very few others nurses ever have to know.
There was also debate about medication in this episode. Medication is such a difficult issue, it can help a lot but will never make things all better- it also comes with some awful side effects. You won’t know truly how it feels to be on medication for mental illness until you’ve been there yourself. Does medication make someone ‘safe’? I think it helps, but it’s not the only answer. The general public seem to see it as being the only answer, which is a frustrating misconception. Medication can help a lot, it can also make you worse. It varies from person to person.
Something else that was brought up was the issue of psychosis and consent. The whole problem of any kind of psychosis is that you think your behaviour is normal, and therefore you will refuse any treatment. You can’t understand that you need help.
What is really striking is that nearly all of the patients in the programme seem to have experienced abuse as children. Maybe we should be directing more resources into looking out for vulnerable children? Perhaps this is something that could prevent mental health problems in the next generation. Of course, this wouldn’t account for everyone who experiences mental health problems, but it could be a start.
Finally, they brought up the point that Broadmoor and the mental health services in general provide a safe place, a structure for their patients, which could make them reluctant to leave. This is something that’s been noted in prisoners as well. Being in a unit gives them routine, a place to sleep, regular meals and safety.
’til next time,