Issue 15

Caswell Clinic History from an Ex-Patient

In 1992 there were no special facilities in Wales for mentally ill forensic patients. Then mentally ill forensics were sent to hospitals in England, far away from families and friends and in a lot of cases, no contact because of the distances to travel. These people did not respond that well to treatment through depression and anxiety of losing touch with loved ones.

However, when the Caswell Clinic opened in Bridgend, matters took a turn for the better and Welsh people could go to their own country to be treated.

Although staff and Doctors were very committed and caring, the actual building itself did nothing for the rehabilitation of the people who lived there, and although the 0. T .and others did their best in the circumstances; most of the day went by with nothing to do other than sleep, eat and sit in a chair most of the day. Which did nothing to boost their already battered and non-existent self-esteem, and in turn did not help their rehabilitation?

But this past summer of 2004 has seen the opening of a state of the art building, which seems to be addressing most if not all of the problems of the old Caswell. This new building is light, airy as a new bright atmosphere. It is a top new building in design, with facilities for Art, Music, Woodwork, exercise and the production of Garden products. For those who relish the outdoor life there are gardens for flowers and produce. All these facilities are arranged and much care is taken to sustain the safety of the people: and indeed outside the Clinic. Also available are computer classes, all these activities besides helping the rehabilitation are also going a long way towards a feeling of a new lease of life and hope for the future. Staff feel and also benefit from these arrangements in a happier environment. All this is in a setting of a bright, clean and secure atmosphere with incentives to look for a bright new future. The Clinic is renowned as being at the cutting of psychiatry, with caring well-trained staff which is shown in the last several years, of the Clinic winning Charter Mark award for excellence.

However despite a new building and forward moves in Mental Health, there still remains the stigma of mental illness. This might help you understand, most people have had a bad dream or even a nightmare, where, when it gets bad you wake up, Just try and imagine having a nightmare and waking up for a hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or even several years. That's what it can be like for of these people. There is still a lack of understanding and clarity, which is not helped by the media. The public has to understand that being mentally ill can happen to any member of society, it has no preferences and devastate families who are hit by it.

Although sufferers are locked in secure units, these precautions are there for their own safety and for the worries and concern of the public.

All in all the new Clinic offers a chance for people to be completely rehabilitated and to lead a useful and successful life in the community.

There will always be misguided people who in their ignorance do nothing to help the Situation and who make it impossible for the ordinary person to be able to comprehend

Spare a thought for these people

From someone who cares about mental illness.

Rob C.