Rab Houston was born in Hamilton, Scotland, lived in India and Ghana and was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and St Andrews University before spending six years at Cambridge University as a research student (Peterhouse) and research fellow (Clare College). He has worked at the University of St Andrews since 1983 and is Professor of Modern History, specialising in British social history. He is a fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Scotland’s national academy), and a member of the Academia Europaea. He is married to a senior university manager and lives in Edinburgh. In his spare time he likes any form of active meditation.
Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts - Professor John Crichton
Prof John Crichton - Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and
Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland.
What is a forensic psychiatrist? Far from the media stereotypes forensic psychiatrists are not so different to other doctors but working at the most extremes of human experience. Any one of us may have a mental health problem. Very rarely that problem may result in an inability to control ones actions and may lead to direful consequences. Forensic psychiatry is all about helping people recover their lives after such life changing events and by placing the care and treatment of patient at the centre ensuring everyone’s safety.
Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland
This is a 50 minute audio file of a talk I delivered at the National Records of Scotland on 7 August 2019, in connection with my hugely successful exhibition that they kindly hosted: ‘Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland’. It explains the records I used and the development of the criminal justice system’s attempts to deal with those who had committed serious offences, but were found to be insane and thus not responsible for their actions. The justice system faced the same problems as today and dealt with ‘prisoner-patients’ or ‘state lunatics’ (as they were known) in a remarkably humane fashion, given the constraints of limited resources, basic medicine, and different social attitudes 150 years ago. The talk explains in depth who the offenders were and what they had done, the processes for admission to, and release from the only such specialist facility in Scotland prior to the opening of The State Hospital at Carstairs in 1948, medical and scientific understandings of insanity, and the social context of Victorian Scotland.
Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts - Professor Rory O'Connor
Professor Rory O’Connor, Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, University of Glasgow
Suicide and self-harm are major public health concerns with complex aetiologies which encompass a multifaceted array of risk and protective factors. There is growing recognition that we need to move beyond psychiatric categories to further our understanding of the pathways to both. As an individual makes a decision to take their own life, an appreciation of the psychology of the suicidal mind is central to suicide prevention. Another key challenge is that our understanding of the factors that determine behavioural enaction (i.e., which individuals with suicidal thoughts will act on these thoughts) is limited. Although a comprehensive understanding of these determinants of suicidality requires an appreciation of biological, psychological and social perspectives, the focus in this podcast is primarily on the psychosocial determinants of self-harm and suicide. To this end, The Integrated Motivational–Volitional (IMV) Model of Suicidal Behaviour (O’Connor & Kirtley, 2018; O’Connor, 2011) is discussed; it provides a framework in which to understand suicide and self-harm. This tripartite model maps the relationship between background factors and trigger events, and the development of suicidal ideation/intent through to suicidal behaviour.
In this podcast, we talk about a range of different topics including:
• The epidemiological context. Suicide rates.
• The myths around suicide and self-harm
• The determinants of suicide and self-harm
• The IMV model of suicidal behaviour
• The implications for the prevention of suicide
O'Connor, R.C., Kirtley, O.J. (2018). The Integrated Motivational-Volitional Model of Suicidal Behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 373: 20170268.
Steve Platt's work on inequalities and suicidal behaviour https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118903223.ch15
Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts - Chris Williams
In this podcast Professor Chris Williams, a researcher and teacher in the area of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) introduces CBT as a self-help form of therapy. It gives people the tools help themselves. Although correctly described as a form of psychotherapy, another way of conceptualising CBT is as a form of adult learning. That perspective can help make sense of recent advances in CBT where key CBT principles are communicated via CBT books, classes or websites. The key elements are a CBT structure that then builds on the therapeutic relationship and helps people both understand why they feel as they do, and also learn new skills to make changes. CBT provides a structure of how to make these changes in a planned and evidence-based way. However it also requires and effective and supportive therapeutic relationship to encourage people to keep on track as they plan changes in their lives. It is on this balance of structure and relationship that CBT aims to help achieve change.
Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts - Michael Brown
Chief Inspector Michael Brown: ‘Police, policing, and mental health in the UK’.
Police services all over the world are essential as a de facto mental health service, especially around crisis care. All have struggled with untoward incidents involving the use of force, or deaths following police contact, which have framed – perhaps distorted - discussion. Reviews of these incidents have concluded that police officers are usually working in a context where the professional options available to them are not always adequate and that support after police decision-making is not always available. Reviews have also emphasized the need to improve police training and awareness of mental health, without necessarily specifying what that means and without taking account of contributory problems in healthcare provision by other agencies. Better police training and awareness of the mental health issues they face professionally is essential, but not sufficient. Many of the people the police encounter, where mental health is a factor in the incident, are known to have a history of mental health problems and have often been service users previously. The challenge is twofold – to reduce reliance upon the police service (and criminal justice system, including the prison service) to the extent we can; and to improve the quality of the police response where it is necessary for officers to become involved.
Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts - Dr Fionnuala Williams
People with learning disability were understood and treated very differently in the past from the present. While attempts were always made to help them, this was against a background of pessimism about their prospects. Much progress has been made in the past half century in positive attitudes towards this group, with closures of the large institutions in which they were often housed and better integration into the community. Nonetheless, challenges remain, including a significantly shorter life expectancy compared with the general population. Dr Fionnuala Williams clarifies misconceptions and enlightens listeners on the definition, causes, and treatments relevant to this diverse population group, where communication is key.
This podcast is so interesting, I’m just over halfway through and not only is it informative but it’s a pleasure to listen to. I love the way Professor Houston delivers it in such a clear, concise way, but he also covers so many aspects most historians skirt over or entirely neglect to consider and he does so in an objective, sensitive way rarely seen. Highly recommend to anyone with an interest in psychiatry or mental health. I want to know more & finish the series but at the same time part of me doesn’t want it to end. Thank you so much for doing this, I’m finding it fascinating and would love it if you did another series- maybe the history of witches?!