More stigmatising Halloween ‘fun’?

After campaigning so successfully in the past I really thought the mental health community had seen the last of this awful sort of abusive marketing in UK. Asda & Tesco both seem to have learned their lesson, judging by the range of costumes on offer on their respective shelves, but others have not.


The impact of social stigma on people with mental health problems is bad enough without this crap making it worse.
I just Emailed this to
I’d be really grateful if others would do the same.

“Dear Sir,

I sincerely hope I’m not the only person writing to you to express my disappointment at your choice of Halloween costumes for sale this year. The impact of social stigma on people with mental health problems is immensely detrimental. Your stereotypical and grossly misleading Halloween costumes can only exacerbate an already serious problem of social discrimination.

In recent years similairly stigmatizing and abusive Halloween costumes were presented for sale by other UK retail outlets including Asda & Tesco. Public outrage (& a subsequent drop in their retail sales) caused them to see the error of their ways. They do not appear to be making the same mistake again this year.

I would be very keen to discuss this issue further with you, should you be interested in learning more about the serious harm this sort of stigmatization creates.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Sorensen
(Mental health nurse, trainer, writer & speaker)”

If you agree that this sort of stigmatisation is unacceptable why not write Email:
to tell them so?

Or write to:
Jokers’ Masquerade
Abscissa.Com Limited
Union House
Kennet Side
RG14 5PX

You can telephone them on: 0845 1300 818.

They’re on Twitter too: @Joke_co_uk

This abusive company’s ridiculing, stigmatising approach to people with mental health problems is neither appropriate nor acceptable in a civilised society. Please join me in letting them know.

The mental health workers’ audio guide – now available

It’s been a while coming but The mental health workers’ audio guide is now available for purchase from The Care Guy shop for less than the price of a lunchtime sandwich. The first 4 of 6 parts are already available and the final two will be out soon. Scroll down to view the contents of each instalment.

You can The Guide parts 1-6 accompanying tables and references containing the contents list for all 6 parts, various diagrams and charts as well as references here……


Part one – clinical basics

What’s a mental health worker worth?

Three models of mental health and disorder

The biological (medical) model

The social model

Merging the two (stress and vulnerability)

The importance of physiology

The meaning of psychiatric diagnoses


The psychology of anxiety


The psychology of depression

Psychosis (introduction)


Delusions part 1

Delusions part 2

Thought disorders

Part 1

Part 2 – The dementias

The dementias

Types of dementia – Alzheimer’s

Types of dementia – Vascular

Types of dementia – Lewy Body

Types of dementia – Parkinson’s

Types of dementia – Korsakoff’s

Types of dementia – Fronto-temporal

Types of dementia – Mixed

Orientation and memory


The CAM scale

Working with the limbic system


Part 3 – Personality and recovery

Personality disorder

High Expressed Emotion

Sympathy is not usually helpful

More on the Stress & Vulnerability model of mental health and disorder

The invalidating environment

The Self-fulfilling prophecy

The meaning of recovery in mental health

The three types of recovery


Part 4 – In practice

Duty of care: A slug in a bottle

‘Hanged if you do, hanged if you don’t’ – a duty of care myth

There is no ‘us and them’

People are just people

Coping skills develop slowly

Lapse is different from relapse

Don’t expect your service user to perform perfectly.

The word ‘support’ is meaningless in and of itself

“It’s just behavioural” (A workers’ excuse for lazy thinking)

Challenging behaviour means….

Behaviours that harm the individual

Behaviours that harm other people

Do we need help?

Consequence, learned behaviour and the need for boundaries

Maintaining the problem

The whole team approach

Firm Boundaries

No ‘Pedestals’ and Staff Safety

Effective, Consistent Care

‘Corporate’ Identity – “You’re All The Same.”



Part 5 – risk issues


Self-harm as a response to trauma

Responding to a person who harms themselves

Individual v Organisational risk (Risk-free is impossible. Manageable risk is the way to go)

Don’t flap (more haste – less speed)

The saviour fantasy

You’re probably not an emergency service – don’t try to behave like one


Part 6 – Thinking styles

Unhelpful thinking

Ignoring the positive

Exaggerating the negative



Arbitrary inference


Selective abstraction

Global thinking

Dichotomous thinking

Magical thinking (the Wizard did it)


Socratic dialogue and ‘the razors’.

The sticks we use to beat ourselves

Who put us in charge?

Final words

Models of mental health and disorder

The world of mental health care can be confusing – especially for those new to the topic. Often the different theories and professional approaches seem to contradict each other. It’s almost as though different workers speak different languages,

That’s not quite true but they do often come from different theoretical perspectives. That’s why, for example, a social worker and a psychiatrist will give you two completely different explanations for the same person’s problems. They’ve been taught radically different ‘models’ that they use to understand mental health and disorder, its causes and its treatments.

This little table isn’t intended to cover all the different models in depth. Instead think of it as a very basic list of models that can guide you in understanding why people focus upon different things. There’s more to it, of course but it’s a start for newcomers trying to get to grips with the contradictions they come across in practice.

The Care Guy Models of mental health and disorder

You snooze, you lose!

Thanks for all the interest in the free training. I’m afraid it’s already been snapped up by a group in the West Midlands. The moment has gone, I’m afraid.


But keep watching. You really never know what might be around the corner.

Free training

Tuesday 9th September 2014 update: Thanks for all the interest but this offer is now closed. A care team in the W. Midlands has kindly offered to let us film there.

Do you work in the UK Midlands? Would you like a free half day training session on self-harm and social care?


If so please let me know by Emailing (or ask your manager to if it’s not your decision).

You’d need to agree to some or all of the session being filmed for a new TV documentary on mental health care. The training would also need to be delivered before December 2014.

For more information about my training click on the pic above or have a look around and drop me an Email. I look forward to hearing from you.

I just love this stuff

Today I was in Halifax in beautiful W. Yorkshire. It was great.
I arrived last night and met up with a former colleague for a catch up over a curry (& beer of course).


Then today was spent with around 20 of Calderdale’s finest mental health & social care workers talking about psychosis and interventions for people who hear voices. It’s amazing what a really enthusiastic group can get through in a single day. We covered basic principles of psychosis, a little philosophy of mental health care, models of understanding and normalisation in the morning. This afternoon was devoted to meaningful activity and validation, socratic dialogue, delusions and perceptions and principles of risk. These people really got their money’s worth today!

The group was great fun to work with and they really seemed to enjoy the day. Hopefully they’ve got some useful new skills to take away too.
Even better, I think a few of them will be contributing to Care To Share Magazine before too long as well.

All in all it’s been a really successful day. And now it really must be ‘beer O’Clock’!

What a cracking day!

Care to share magazine issue 7

Just a reminder. Care to share magazine issue 7 is out today as a series of blog posts or downloadable PDF.

Get your free copy here.



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