January 2021 to current date:
Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic challenges has resulted in severe work pressures on NHS healthcare and administrative staff (including redeployment of staff) as well as on Bristol Adult ADHD Support Group volunteers and as a result, the work of the ADHD Joint Multi-Party Working Group (BNSSGCCG, AWP, & service user representatives) has had to be temporarily paused.
We worked diligently and at speed from the inception of the working group until December 2020 and we will do so again as soon as we can. In the meantime, the members of the working group are staying in contact and frequent reviews are taking place as to the Covid-19 work pressures and related staff redeployments.
We will return to this project as soon as we are able and we will update this website when that happens.
Tuesday, 28 July 2020: Good News
On Tuesday, 28 April 2020, the Bristol Adult ADHD Support Group, the Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire CCG (BNSSGCCG) and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) agreed to form a joint, multi-partner, collaborative working group with the dual purpose of addressing the waiting list issues as a priority while, at the same time, methodically analysing problems that led to the waiting list and then devising and implementing solutions.
The end goal of the working group is to have an Adult ADHD Service that assesses people within the 18 week target and is cost effective (now and in the future), that effectively and efficiently integrates care, is high quality, safe and gives service users a positive experience. It will meet legal duties, NHS Quality Board’s definition of quality (safe, effective, caring, responsive and person-centred), as well as NICE Guidelines & Standards.
It will be an Adult ADHD Service that everyone can be proud of!
On Friday, 5 June 2020, formal Terms of Reference for the working group were adopted and we agreed ways of working and communicating.
The Core Working Group (CWG) is now having weekly working meetings and is updating the Full Working Group (FWG) on a monthly basis. In turn the FWG is giving monthly progress reports to the CCG’s Commissioning Executive Committee (CEC) for their feedback and/or approval. BTW: we are all working & meeting online & we are working well together.
We are working as hard and fast as we can while balancing accuracy with speed. The waiting list is an urgent priority.
We will periodically update this page with progress reports.
Monday, 17 February 2020
I’m afraid we were overly optimistic as progress seems to have stopped so today I sent two emails as follows:
I realise that everyone is busy but it has now been 3 weeks since I sent the list of dates for which we are unavailable for a meeting and I have not yet had a reply.
Do you know if any progress has been made in arranging this meeting with the CCG, [Clinic staff], members of the joint CCG and AWP ADHD Working/Project Group, and [seAp Advocacy]?
To date, it is 6 years and 10 months since the funding level for the clinic was set and it has been 5 years and 10 months since the then Bristol CCG recognised that the funding level was inadequate.
Furthermore, the Bristol Adult ADHD Support Group met on Friday, 14 February, and it rapidly became apparent that the waiting list (2 years and growing), without any doubt, is putting already distressed people at increased risk of harm. In addition, the group members already assessed strongly reiterated their support for the clinic as well as their high regard for the staff whilst also expressing concern that the ever increasing waiting list is now putting too much pressure on the service as a whole.
As a polite reminder, I have reattached my original letter of Friday, 6 December 2019; sent 2 ½ months ago. Everything stated in this letter regarding the CCG’s responsibilities as well as our offer of help still stands.
Please note, I have also cc’d Mr John Penrose, MP on this email since I understand he is making enquiries into the inadequate funding for NHS ADHD services on behalf of constituents and I am also his constituent.
43 working days have now passed since you received my FOI Request.
During that time the deadline for the CCG’s response has been extended twice from the original date of Tuesday, 14 January 2020; first to Tuesday, 28 January (need time to finalise the response) and then again to Monday, 3 February 2020 (for review by a Director).
It has now been 10 working days since the CCG’s last deadline expired. Could you please, therefore, conduct an internal review into the handling of this matter. My original request for information can be read at the end of this email chain.
Wednesday, 22 January 2020
We’re making progress, slow inching progress, but progress nevertheless. We filed a Freedom of Information request with BNSSG CCG on 12 December 2019 for documents they described in their minutes (discussions about the Adult ADHD service) but had not made available online. The CCG, in response, told us they needed more time to ‘finalise’ their response and they expected to release the information by 28th January.
As a result, we’ve asked that our meeting take place in mid February so that we have time to review the documents. And we’ve listed the other people that the CCG needs to invite to the meeting ‘in the interests of transparency and because [the waiting list] is a very serious problem that needs an open and collaborative partnership between the CCG, AWP, and service users.’
Thursday, 9 January 2020
Since we filed our complaint with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSGCCG) on 6th December 2019, some progress has been made as follows:
1.BNSSGCCG have proposed that they hold a meeting this month (date tbd) with us (service users), the ADHD Clinic staff, and others from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP). We are now waiting to hear from all attendees.
2. The CCG have also sent a proposed agenda which needs some amendments.
3. We have notified Healthwatch Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (Healthwatch BNSSG) about the problems with the waiting list and sent them a copy of our complaint. We will be talking with them tomorrow, and they will be investigating the issues around the waiting list. We have also been in communication with Healthwatch England who are aware of our complaint. Healthwatch England have said that they will assess and evaluate the results of Healthwatch BNSSG’s investigation for national implications.
Saturday, 7 December 2019
The waiting list for the Bristol NHS Adult ADHD Clinic is now 2 years (plus) for people living in Bristol. We weren’t sure what Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSGCCG) were doing about it, if anything, so we decided to try and find out.
First, here’s a little bit of background. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were created in 2012 when the new Health and Social Care Act came into being and they opened their doors on 1 April 2013. The CCGs are membership bodies made up of the local GP practices and they are led by a governing body also made up of GPs some clinicians, nurses and lay people. The CCG buys (commissions) all the health services (physical & mental health) that we use within our local areas. For example, the BNSSGCCG has a contract with Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) for the Adult ADHD service for all who it in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Area.
Now before buying a service such as the ADHD Clinic, the CCG should determine the level of need in the community as well as the amount of funding they’re going to need for the service currently and into the future. In other words they need to plan for increasing demand They should also plan for future demand as people become more aware of ADHD and ADHD services. And this is where things can go wrong as it has done for BNSSGCCG.
In 2013, for whatever reason they didn’t plan for the number of people in the greater Bristol area who would need an ADHD service and they didn’t pay attention to the increasing number of people being referred to the clinic and they didn’t listen to the Clinic’s warnings. And now there’s a very long waiting list.
And now we go back to where we left off in the first paragraph of this post: we were going to do some research. We did, and didn’t like what we found, so yesterday we sent BNSSG a letter with an appendix containing 33 pages of evidence. The appendix can be read here and the letter is below:
6 December 2019
Dr Jonathan Hayes, Clinical Chair
NHS BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group
Dear Dr Hayes,
Re: OPEN LETTER: Serious concerns about BNSSG’s handling of the Adult ADHD Service waiting list
I am the Chair of AADD–UK and the founder and facilitator of Bristol Adult ADHD Support Group; both running continuously for 12 years. I’ve contributed to the NICE ADHD Guidelines and Quality Standards and I’m a member of the NICE ADHD Implementation Group. The latter was charged by the Department of Health and Social Care with highlighting challenges and developing solutions for implementing NICE NG87 ADHD. Commissioners are responsible for enabling patient use of the Guidelines not only within the context of funding but also within context of their legal duties of eliminating discrimination, advancing opportunities and reducing health inequalities.
I am writing this letter on behalf of service users who potentially have ADHD as well as those who have the diagnosis. The Bristol Adult ADHD Service does not know that I am writing this but as a matter of courtesy I have sent them a copy. The number of people expressing distress about the length of the waiting list for the Bristol Adult ADHD Service is steadily increasing. Since I needed to understand the background to this situation, I read all available BNSSGCCG’s minutes and reports. And I now have very serious concerns about BNSSG’s management of the waiting list.
In April 2014, one of the CCG’s operational delivery projects for the ADHD service was to ‘achieve funding’ to resource its then current growth. Since that date, referrals have risen exponentially but the CCG left the funding at the 2013 level—despite receiving warnings from the service. They have also been underspending on ADHD services to help offset overspending on IAPT and mental health placement commitments. The Clinic staff from 2014 to date, continuously tried to increase capacity to match the ever-growing demand until it seems they could do no more. The CCG refused to increase funding and favourably compared the 2-year ADHD wait time (keeping ‘inappropriate costs’ down) with the 2-week wait time for Cataract surgery. Furthermore, there’s no evidence the CCG made any effort to understand the needs of people with ADHD. There’s also no evidence of engagement or involvement with patients. See Appendix A for details, comments (blue text), as well as questions for the CCG (green text) to answer.
The CCG’s decisions and actions means it is violating the principles, values and objectives as set out in their ‘Constitution’, their ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy’, their ‘Ethical Framework for Decision Making’, their ‘Procurement Policy’ as well as the ‘NHS Constitution’, the statutory guidance for ‘Patient and Public Participation in Commissioning Health and Care’ and the ‘Good Governance Standard for Public Service’.
Furthermore, these decisions and actions have potentially put the CCG at risk of being in breach of their legal duties to reduce inequalities, eliminate discrimination, promote involvement of patients and obtain appropriate advice as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Equality Act 2010.
First, I ask the CCG to review their decisions and actions in line with these principles, values and legal duties and to make amends. Secondly, I ask the CCG to answer my questions in Appendix A.
I have written this letter, however, not just to express my serious concerns and to ask for amends, but also to offer my help to the CCG. I can help the CCG understand the importance of a fully functioning Bristol Adult ADHD Service. Indeed, it is held in high regard by service users. Appendix C contains lists of service user comments extracted from the ADHD Service’s quarterly and annual reports (released by the CCG in response to a Freedom of Information request). I can confirm the compliments in these lists match the feedback I hear at support group meetings as well as those from my networks. If anyone at the CCG is interested in learning about the lived experience of ADHD, I can help with that too. In fact, I am willing to invite relevant personnel to support group meetings so that they can directly hear from others about their needs.
ADHD is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect about 2-4% of adults. It is complex and difficult to diagnose. Many adults who were not diagnosed in childhood or were misdiagnosed will have developed co-existing disorders which act to amplify the symptoms and increase the complexity of assessments and diagnosis. ADHD symptoms can cause significant impairment across all domains of adult life (e.g. interpersonal relationships, education and work) and negatively impact health-related quality of life. It is cost effective to fund appropriate and timely treatment.
Please respond by Friday, 20 December 2019. I am currently considering further actions.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE TO OUR, SO FAR, FRUITLESS COMPLAINTS TO THE BPS:
Thursday, 12 December 2019:
We sent the following email to BPS:
Did the Trustees ever finish investigating my complaint about the way ADHD is stigmatised in the Power Threat Meaning Framework.
To date, the PTMFramework is still available on the BPS website and still contains demeaning statements about people with ADHD.
I realise 11 months have passed so for speed of reference, I’ve reattached my original documents as well as additional documents showing that BPS has actively promoted the framework.
Tuesday, 9 July 2019:
As of today, we’ve heard nothing from anyone at The British Psychological Society (BPS) regarding their investigation of our complaint about the stigmatisation of people with ADHD in The Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF). You can read the history of this sorry matter under ‘Past Events’ at the end of this post as well as in the ‘Featured Posts’ below this one.
We are now preparing to escalate our complaint.
To be frank, we feel surprised, and yes a bit hurt, that we haven’t heard from BPS because it really wouldn’t have taken much effort on their part to discover that the authors of the PTMF are in fact ADHD deniers.
See for example this 2016 tweet from the lead author:
and this 2018 tweet from another PTMF author:
There are plenty more examples from others, but you get the picture.
The authors, of course, as private individuals have the right to their opinions and have the right to publish them under their own names. But the PTMF, as it states on the copyright page, was printed and published by The British Psychological Society, BPS owns the copyright and their logo tops the cover page.
In the document summary on page 5, the authors have explained how the PTMF came about thus:
In 2013, the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) published a Position Statement entitled Classification of behaviour and experience in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses: Time for a paradigm shift. Recommendation 3 of the position paper is: ‘To support work, in conjunction with service users, on developing a multi-factorial and contextual approach, which incorporates social, psychological and biological factors’ (p.9). This document is the result of a DCP-funded project for work towards fulfilling this aim.
And here is the British Psychological Society promoting the one year anniversary of the launch of the PTMF:
Seems pretty clear that the PTMF has been published under the aegis of The British Psychological Society thus endorsing and legitimising the authors’ lack of knowledge about neurodevelopmental disorders as well as their disrespectful & discriminatory attitude towards people with ADHD.
It shouldn’t be necessary for us to draw the attention of the BPS and the authors to the ethical principles in BPS’ Code of Ethics but since it is, here are two quotes from page 5 they may want to start with:
Respect for the dignity of persons and peoples is one of the most fundamental and universal ethical principles across geographical and cultural boundaries, and across professional disciplines.
Statement of values: Psychologists value the dignity and worth of all persons, with sensitivity to the dynamics of perceived authority or influence over persons and peoples and with particular regard to people’s rights.
They might also want to reflect upon this quote from page 2:
Ethical reasoning is often subject to various competing biases. Maintaining awareness of such biases is important when trying to think through ethical challenges. These considerations currently include but are not limited to, salience (how readily something comes to mind), confirmation bias (the human tendency to look for evidence that confirms their belief and to ignore other evidence), loss aversion (behaviour to avoid loss), beliefs about disclosure (tendency to be more honest when they believe their actions will be known by others), and dissonance reduction (acting to maintain consistent beliefs). This list will evolve over time with the advancement of knowledge in this area. Psychologists are therefore well placed and encouraged to consider these factors in their own decision-making.
We would also urge BPS and the authors to begin thinking about this quote from page 3:
Psychologists should consider it good practice to record their decision processes when confronted with a particularly challenging ethical issue so that it is available for future reference if that decision is re-visited.
As I wrote at the beginning, we’re preparing to escalate our complaint!
PS: Here’s a link to The British Psychological Society’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
On Monday, 14th January 2019, we received an email from the Governance Manager of the British Psychological Society letting us know that a Director of the Society has been appointed to investigate the issues we have raised and that the investigation will take 4 weeks to complete.
On Wednesday, 2nd January 2019, we received the following reply from the Governance Manager at BPS:
Your complaint as set out below has been forwarded to me for attention. I am very sorry to learn of your concerns
I am making enquiries into the matters which you raise and I will be in touch as soon as my enquiries are complete
On Sunday, 9th December 2018, we sent the following email to the Chief Executive and Trustees of the British Psychological Society (BPS):
Dear Mr Bajwa and Trustees of the British Psychological Society,
I would like to bring to your attention the harmful manner in which Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is referenced in the document titled ‘Power Threat Meaning Framework’ (PTMFramework).
Lucy Johnstone, lead author, on 30 November 2018 told us on Twitter that all discussions of ADHD had been specifically excluded from the PTM Framework (see attached: ‘Tweets September to 30 November 2018’). But to date, the uncorrected version of the PTM Framework ( i.e. the version containing 16 references to ADHD, all of which are stigmatising and harmful) is still on the British Psychological Society’s website here https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/introducing-power-threat-meaning-framework
If you are able, please could you provide us with a copy of the amended version of the Framework and ensure that the uncorrected copy is replaced?
If it has not been amended, please could you discuss this matter with the Trustees as to whether or not the Framework meets the requirements of the BPS Royal Charter.
Sadly, we have some doubts as to whether the Framework has been amended as Lucy Johnstone and her fellow authors are adamantly opposed to psychiatric diagnoses as illustrated in one of the attached tweets as well as in the following quote from the 3rd paragraph on page 314 of the PTM Framework:
At the same time as affirming people’s right to describe their difficulties as they wish, we affirm the equally important principle that professionals, researchers, trainers, lecturers, charities, policy-makers and others involved in the mental health field should use language and concepts that have some claim to be descriptively accurate and evidence-based. Because psychiatric diagnosis does not meet these standards, it follows that it can no longer be considered professionally, scientifically or ethically justifiable to present psychiatric diagnoses as if they were valid statements about people and their difficulties. To draw an analogy from psychiatric history, once it becomes clear that terms like ‘wandering womb’ are mistaken, no professional should be offering – let alone imposing – them.
For your information here is some background:
In January 2018, the launch of the Power Threat Meaning Framework was heavily promoted on Twitter under #PTMFramework and as part of the launch it was also advertised as being available on the British Psychological Society’s website. As a result of this we, Adult Attention Deficit Disorder-UK (AADD-UK), became aware of the published document so we downloaded the full version (414 pages) and read it.
There are 16 specific references to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the framework (see attached document) which are in themselves incorrect and when read in the context of the framework as seen in the quote above.
We’ve given our feedback to the authors many times since the launch of the PTM Framework, but until 30th November 2018 it has been consistently ignored. Please note that while Lucy Johnstone says she won’t engage in a debate about the framework, she is still actively promoting it on Twitter.
We are bringing this to your attention as well as the attention of the trustees not only because Lucy Johnstone directed us to the BPS but also because the presence of the BPS Logo on the Framework lends credence and validity to statements which stigmatise people with ADHD.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m very willing to help.
Here is a link to the copy of some tweets we sent to the BPS, Tweets September to 30 November 2018
Here is a link to a list of the statements in the Power Threat Meaning Framework that we sent to the BPS, Quotes from PTMF for Letter
And finally, if anyone is interested in reading more, here is a link to the 414 page version of the Power Threat Meaning Framework: Towards the identification of patterns in emotional distress, unusual experiences and troubled or troubling behaviour, as an alternative to functional psychiatric diagnosis
“I feel like a universe, stuffed within a shoebox” – this is how Bryn Travers describes what it’s like to have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). On 31st October 2018 the video ‘Shine a light – understanding ADHD’ was released: it’s a short documentary about what ADHD is, both from a personal and from a clinical perspective.
The release of this video co-occurred with the last day of the international ADHD awareness month (October). This initiative of the international ADHD patient organisations aims to raise awareness about ADHD, as well as funding for more research to better understand ADHD. Many events were organised worldwide during October to inform people about ADHD. Knowing more about ADHD and spreading awareness will help people to better understand (people with) ADHD. This will reduce stigma and (self)blame.
The video is in English, with subtitles in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian and Swedish.
What is this video about?
Many children, adolescents and adults suffer from ADHD. ADHD is a complex disorder that affects people differently. Generally people experience problems in daily life, especially with respect to controlling attention, impulses and emotions. At the same time, people with ADHD enjoy their creativity and positive energy. Medication is effective for many people with ADHD, but not for all. A downside of the medication is that it needs to be taken every day, and it does not cure someone from the disorder. Other types of treatment should therefore also be offered and investigated. Knowing more about ADHD and spreading awareness will help people to understand what causes their behaviour. This will reduce stigma and (self)blame.
The makers of this mini-documentary have asked people with ADHD and their relatives what is like to have ADHD, what are the challenges and what are the things they like about ADHD. They have also asked clinicians and researchers working with ADHD to explain more about the origins of the disorder, what they have learnt from their experience working with patients, but also what are the main questions that research is trying to answer about ADHD.
Who is in the video?
The video features four of the most well-known researchers in the field of ADHD:
Dr. Eric Taylor is Emeritus Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at King’s College London,
Dr. Philip Asherson is professor of Molecular Psychiatry at King’s College London,
Dr. Barbara Franke is professor of Molecular Psychiatry at Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen, in The Netherlands, and
Dr. Corina Greven is psychologist and behavioural geneticist at Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen.
Next to these scientists and psychiatrists, we see three people with ADHD:
Bryn Travers, Evie Travers, and Aziz.
And we also see:
Andrea Bilbow, President of ‘ADHD Europe’ and mother of two children with ADHD,
Dr. Kai Syng Tan, researcher and artist at King’s College London, who also has an ADHD diagnosis.
In the video they talk about what ADHD is and what it is like to have ADHD, about the pro’s and con’s of ADHD medication and why other types of treatment should also be developed, about stigma and misconceptions and why education is so important, and about the positive aspects of ADHD.
About the collaborators of this video
This video was a created through collaboration between four EU-funded, international consortia of researchers that investigate ADHD and its origins. The idea came from two junior scientists, Laura Ghirardi and Dr. Nicoletta Adamo. They were supported in creating the video through the MiND Training program and by the other junior scientists from MiND.
More information about the researchers and consortia:
The video was recorded by 4QUARTER FILMS
Celebrating the achievements and diversity of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD):
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) is inviting adults with ADHD, in Bristol & greater area, to an awareness raising and recognition event.
The Trust’s Adult ADHD Service is aiming to celebrate neurodiversity, help build resilience and galvanise a wider ADHD community through its event on Friday 12 October, which will showcase the successes and skills of adults with the condition.
Dietmar Hank, Consultant Psychiatrist in Adult ADHD for AWP, said: “People with ADHD can live very successful and fulfilled lives. A thorough assessment, education/knowledge about the condition and appropriate treatment are often the key to positive changes. ADHD doesn’t just affect those with a diagnosis. Families, loved ones, friends and wider society can struggle to make sense of the condition and some of the problems caused by it.
“We want to focus on the diversity and strengths many people with ADHD demonstrate and give adults with the condition the opportunity to meet others, learn from and share with each other.”
The event, which is taking place at the Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol, BS2 0NW, from 10am until 3.30pm, will feature workshops, talks delivered by people affected by ADHD, music and much more. It is open to adults with ADHD (in Bristol & greater area), their friends and family, professionals and other interested parties.
More details are here on Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP)’s website.
Thursday, 7th June, We’ve just learnt that it looks as if the Power Threat Meaning Framework has been adopted as policy by the Division of Clinical Psychologists at the British Psychological Society. An email has been received by other psychologists which says “Statements of Interest are invited to join the DCP Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTM) Working Group, that reports directly to the DCP Committee.”
We have been working hard on our report about the PTMFramework and are now compiling the results into a coherent whole so that it can be presented along with our letter of complaint. This has not been easy and has taken a while as the Framework itself is a poorly researched and poorly written mishmash of outdated ideas as well as being unintelligible in sections.
As of today, Monday, 30th April, we’ve still not had any kind of a reply from the British Psychological Society regarding their stigmatising and discriminatory attitude towards people with ADHD. We sent the BPS & authors of the Power Threat Meaning Framework a note today, via Twitter, to say that unless they promise by Friday, 4th May, in writing, that ADHD will be deleted from the PTMFramework we will be taking further action.
FYI, work on this further action is well underway!
In the meantime, we note that Lucy Johnstone, a consultant clinical psychologist and one of the two lead authors of the framework, tweeted at 5:10 pm on Tuesday, 24th April the following:
As you see, Lucy Johnstone declares that all diagnoses lack validity even if people actually find them to be helpful. And she says, psychologists should be honest and tell us that our diagnoses are invalid. That is an arrogant and harmful statement that devalues the experience of service users.
And before any of the authors think about contacting us to claim that the PTMframework is an alternative option to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), we will state right here and now that we are not fooled! At the same time they tell everyone that their framework is an alternative option, they also deny the validity of the DSM. No options allowed!
Basically, in the PTMframework the authors claim that the symptoms we experience (ADHD included) are expressions of emotional distress caused by “relational and social adversities” such as poverty, discrimination, inequality, violence and abuse. Furthermore, they state that there are no ” consistent associations between functional psychiatric diagnoses [e.g. ADHD] and any biological pathology or impairment, and nor have any biomarkers been identified” (Johnstone, 2018, 7). In short, the authors dismiss the results of genetic and screening research. The framework is not backed by reliable research and the authors lack the depth of knowledge and experience of the DSM authors.
While the framework may be helpful for those people whose distress has been solely caused by relational and societal adversities (although they will still need the utility of the DSM), it will not help those whose distress results from the impact of complex interactions between genetic and environmental influences amplified by relational and societal adversities. In fact, in these instances the framework will only serve to disempower people by denying the validity of their experiences. It will increase feelings of failure and despair.
Unlike the PTMFramework, the DSM is designed as a classification system that provides cross-border mental health professionals with a common diagnostic language that is useful for both treatment and research efforts. While some of the DSM authors recognise that it is a flawed system, in part because knowledge about mental ill health is evolving and changing, they also acknowledge that the DSM contains much practical information and experience and is better than anything else currently available (and when used properly does a good job).
The two main criticisms levelled against the DSM (and psychiatry in general) are first, that it medicalises normal behaviours and turns them into illnesses and disorders to be treated with drugs and secondly, that the DSM’s authors (and psychiatrists in general) have conflicts of interest because they have links with the pharmaceutical industry.
The critics, including the authors, using these arguments conveniently overlook the fact that researchers from both the medical field and the pharmaceutical industry need to work together in order to find and develop effective treatments. They overlook the fact that in the UK the pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated. Additionally, as we’ve noticed with the BPS and some of their members, many of these same critics fail to declare their own financial and personal interests.
Please don’t misunderstand us. We’re not against debating the meaning and definition of illness and disorder, we’re not against improving the validity of specific diagnoses, we’re not even against changes to the classification system; so long as changes are in line with improvements in knowledge about causes of and experiences with mental ill health.
We are, however, against mental health professionals working outside their area of expertise and not declaring their lack of knowledge. We are also against the same professionals resorting to misinterpreting the conclusions of more knowledgeable colleagues and making attention-grabbing and unfounded pronouncements such as the ones they make about psychiatrists and psychiatric diagnoses. The authors allege that psychiatric diagnoses are neither descriptively accurate nor evidence-based and cannot be considered “professionally, scientifically or ethically justifiable” (Johnstone, 2018, p. 314). We are against mental health professionals attempting to enhance their own professional reputation by using these sorts of tactics to discredit the work of other colleagues.
Additionally, we think it is unethical and unprofessional, to say nothing of being harmful, for the authors of the PTMFramework to justify their own work by perpetuating distrust of psychiatry amongst people with negative experiences and by undermining the trust of those who’ve had helpful experiences.
Finally, we will point out to all those mental health professionals who feel disturbed by the implications of the PTMFramework but are staying silent, thereby implying acceptance, the framework authors’ failure to recognise their own limits, biases, prejudices, professional and power interests will not only cause harm to many service users, it will also damage the reputation of psychology as a helpful profession. And those of you who do not speak up will be seen as complicit.
There will be more on these as well as additional points later!
As of today, Tuesday, 27th March 2018 we’ve had no reply whatsoever from the British Psychological Society. Never mind; we’ve been working hard on a comprehensive follow-up which we will send to certain parties as well as publish here.
In the meantime, we note that on 1st March 2018 Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, at the Department of Health not only introduced the Power Threat Meaning Framework as a “radically different perspective on mental health“ on her official government blog but also allowed Phil Wilshire, principal social worker for Avon and Wiltshire NHS Partnership Trust to write a guest blog promoting the framework.
Phil does acknowledge that some professionals and some service users have been critical of the framework so he tries to argue that the framework is an “optional conceptual resource” and that it is not anti-medication. His efforts, however, are deliberately misleading given that in the first paragraph on page 314 of the framework the authors clearly state that while they affirm “people’s right to describe their difficulties as they wish, we affirm the equally important principle that professionals, researchers, trainers, lecturers, charities, policy-makers and others involved in the mental health field should use language and concepts that have some claim to be descriptively accurate and evidence-based. Because psychiatric diagnosis does not meet these standards, it follows that it can no longer be considered professionally, scientifically or ethically justifiable to present psychiatric diagnoses as if they were valid statements about people and their difficulties.” You see; they are actually trying to take away our right to accept our ADHD diagnoses by calling them unprofessional, unscientific and unethical. What’s more they haven’t provided any valid evidence at all for this opinion.
By the way; Phil Wilshire probably should have declared his interest in the Framework as he’s listed on page 3 as having “significant input into Chapter 8” which is titled “Ways forward” and contains the following sections: 1. Public health policy. 2. Mental health policy. 3. Service principles. 4. Service design, commissioning and outcomes. 5. Access to social care, housing and welfare benefits. 6. Therapeutic interventions. 7. The legal system. 8. Research. 9. Use of language.
Mr Wilshire, of course, is advocating an eventual “collective shift towards a non-diagnostic paradigm.” (p. 264) Well . . . . good luck!!
And just in case Phil and Lyn have been chatting about how to implement the Framework, we suggest that since they both work for public bodies, they might like to ask themselves how their support for the framework complies with their public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. And if they’ve overlooked their legal obligations, here’s a reminder: “those subject to the equality duty must, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to: Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act. . . etc.“!!!
On Tuesday, 16th January, AADD-UK was alerted to a furious Twitter row that began Friday, 12th January when the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP), a Division within the British Psychological Society (BPS),* held an actively promoted launch at the Friends House, across from Euston Station, London for the Division’s recently published “Power Threat Meaning Framework: Towards the identification of patterns in emotional distress, unusual experiences and troubled or troubling behaviour, as an alternative to functional psychiatric diagnosis.”
Having no idea what this Framework was about & curious as to why there was such a ruckus, I downloaded a copy and began reading.
This is what happened:
The Framework seemed sturdy, 411 pages long, and reputable. It’s on the BPS website, it has their logo (Tagline: Promoting excellence in psychology) as well as the logo for the Division of Clinical Psychologists. It’s clearly stated on the printer’s imprint and copyright page that the publication “has been produced by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology as a Member Network publication and represents the views and expert contributions of its authors” and it was printed and published by the British Psychological Society.
So far so good.
Next, on page 5, under the heading ‘Document summary‘, I learnt the reason for the existence of the Framework as follows (please bear with me as I give you these somewhat tedious details, their relevance will be more evident later):
In 2013, the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) of the British Psychological Society
(BPS) published a Position Statement entitled “Classification of behaviour and experience in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses: Time for a paradigm shift.” Recommendation 3 of the position paper is: ‘To support work, in conjunction with service users, on developing a multi-factorial and contextual approach, which incorporates social, psychological and biological factors’ (p.9). This document is the result of a DCP-funded project for work towards fulfilling this aim.
Since I tend to be overly conscientious as well as curious, I decided to read ‘Time for a paradigm shift‘ first so that I could understand the context for the PTMFramework so I downloaded a copy, thankfully only 9 pages long, and began reading (it’s publication format was the same as the Framework’s).
I was more interested when I recognised a few of the author’s names due to their interactions with the Twitter row. Things quickly became more interesting when, on page 2, I read the following paragraph (emphasis mine):
At the same time it should be noted that functional psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders and so on, due to their limited reliability and questionable validity, provide a flawed basis for evidence-based practice, research, intervention guidelines and the various administrative and nonclinical uses of diagnosis.
After this, I carried on reading, paying closer attention to the references and source names, some of whom I also recognised, and by the time I reached the summary (below) on page 5, I’d already concluded that the ‘position statement‘ produced by the Division of Clinical Psychologists was a veiled attempt at undermining psychiatry and diagnoses, i.e. anti-psychiatry. The Twitter row wasn’t the only place I’d seen those names.
The DCP believes there is a clear rationale and need for a paradigm shift in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses. It argues for an approach that is multi-factorial, contextualises distress and behaviour, and acknowledges the complexity of the interactions involved in all human experience.
The whole Division? I wondered how many psychologists were involved so I did a Google search. I didn’t find numbers for psychologists but I did find an interesting page on the BPS website under “news”. It’s titled “The future of clinical psychology in the Society” which mentions plans for a another UK association for Clinical Psychologists. Intriguingly, there’s strange hints about unity (lack of?) along with a reminder that relationships with external organisations must advance BPS’ objects. The policy is linked to this page. Hmm! Keep all this in mind as you read on.
I returned to reading the Power Threat Meaning Framework. Now, I freely admit that I was slightly distracted by the policy I’d just read and I was aware my bias filters were turned on. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong!
I was shocked! And this feeling intensified the more I read. The authors’ tone, conveyed through their choice of words and viewpoint, is arrogant and patronising and their negative and disapproving attitude towards ADHD is stigmatising and discriminatory. Make no mistake the ideology behind the Framework belongs to the anti-psychiatry movement.
I’m not going to analyse the arguments put forward in the Framework other than to say that while some of the ideas are interesting, they aren’t discussed in any depth. The authors’ make some half-hearted attempts at describing different sides of an argument, but these are often spoilt by their habit of using adverbs to manipulate us into choosing their favoured option .
This post is getting too long so I’m only going to add 5 extracts from the Framework so that you have some sort of idea as to what it’s like. I’ve put links to the Framework as well as to the Time for a Paradigm Shift at the very end of this post in the References section. If you’re interested, you can download them and judge them for yourselves.
“. . .and psychiatric diagnoses are often explicitly used as explanations. But the impression of explanation is false and the reasoning behind it is illogical“. (2018, p.29)
“We underestimate the difficulty of describing patterns in people’s behavioural or bodily problems and often ‘see’ associations which are not there (known as the illusory correlation). This is why medical researchers have developed the kind of rules we discussed earlier to try to ensure that the bodily patterns they describe are ‘real’ and not illusory. The combination of limited public understanding of diagnostic procedures and overconfidence in judgements of patterns, can confer credibility on psychiatric categories which is not justified by the evidence“. 2018, p.30)
“The existence of particular categories can influence how people’s experiences are interpreted and how they express their distress. Aided by the illusory correlation, diagnostic categories can then become self-fulfilling prophecies, conferring further credibility as growing numbers of people seem to match them. And, especially if people do not have access to non-medical, non-blaming explanations, the process can become self-perpetuating as people increasingly request confirmation of self-diagnoses of ‘bipolar disorder’ or ‘ADHD’ and so on.” (2018, p.30)
“All of this is reflected in psychiatric diagnosis’ inevitable dependence on social judgements, as we discussed in Chapter 1, and many critics have traced particular diagnoses back to the social norms they challenge: ‘borderline personality disorder’ for women who are too angry; ‘depression’ for women who are exhausted by domestic demands; ‘anorexia nervosa’ as a reaction to the unrealistic role and appearance standards faced by modern women; alcohol misuse and suicide for men whose socialisation does not permit the expression of despair in other ways; ‘ADHD’ for children who are not suited to educational regimentation, and so on . . .These rule transgressions can involve over-adaption to the ideal image, as well as failing to live up to it; . . . Similarly, it has been suggested that the enormous rise in diagnoses of ‘autism spectrum disorders’ and ‘Asperger’s’ may partly reflect demands made by highly industrialised and service-oriented economies for successful employees to display emotional behaviours such as (faked) sociability, warmth, gratitude, passion and so on – skills which do not come easily to everyone (Roberts, 2015). (NB: Although autism in its most severe forms fits the profile of a neurodevelopmental disorder of some kind, the debates about these diagnoses are particularly complex . . . Given all this, it is hardly surprising that in many parts of the Global South, there may be no equivalent categories to the experiences that DSM and ICD label as ‘depression’, ‘anxiety’, borderline personality disorder, anorexia, and so on. In fact, the distinction between thought and emotion may not even be recognised (Cromby, 2015) and the very notion of an individual who exists in some sense independently from their social network may be alien.” (2018, p. 69-70)
“From a PTM Framework perspective, the trauma-informed model has much to offer. It also has risks and limitations, including: Conceptualising the approach as an alternative explanation for ‘schizophrenia’, ‘bipolar disorder’, ‘ADHD’ and so on, perhaps by reducing adversities to the status of a ‘trigger’ and thus retaining diagnostic categories and thinking . . .” (2018, p.276)
I apologise for the length of the quotes. I’m trying to give you an accurate picture by including some context.
Returning to my story: I revisited the Twitter row, partly because I was angry and looking for a fight and partly because I couldn’t believe that professionals still believed this kind of stuff in 2018.
I’m going to pause now and give myself a pat on the back, as once advised by a psychotherapist.
Despite being angry and upset, I managed to stay calm and polite, except for a couple of little jabs & swipes, as I asked questions and gave feedback to the authors, and yes the medication also helped even when my questions were evaded and ignored. I did, however, get replies from a registered psychologist, supporter of the Framework, who told me, via tweets, that ADHD diagnoses are invalid and damaging. I also saw a tweet from one of the Framework authors in which she stated, “IMO all DX are BS & giving psychoactive meds to kids is immoral. To view ADHD as valid DX seems remarkably lacking in critical thinking.” I’ve kept copies of these tweets.
Eventually, I realised I was wasting my time and energy, the authors didn’t want to hear, even questioned whether I’d read the framework, and then said it was up to me how I used the Framework, I didn’t give the obvious reply! Instead I decided to leave.
I was sorry though to leave behind some of the people I’d met (I’m using the word figuratively) . Not all psychologists support the framework, and the same goes for my fellow service users. In fact the people I met were kind, caring and open-minded, and some even had a wicked sense of humour and mischief. I laughed out loud several times.
I also met service users from the other side of the argument who were kind and helped me to understand and accept their very valid reasons for disliking diagnoses. But my experiences with the professional supporters of the Framework had a completely different nature. I’m not going to give details, it’s not fair. And anyway, we’ve reached the point at which I return to the description I gave earlier of the publication details of the DCP’s position statement and the PTMFramework. My reasons for giving you those dull details at the beginning.
You see, I couldn’t just walk away telling myself that the fuss would die down in a few days and be forgotten. The reality is that the BPS allowed the PTMFramework, despite its evident bias and stigmatising attitude, to be published and available on their website. Registered clinical psychologists promoted it on Twitter, and the BPS and DPC logos are displayed on its front cover. And all this means the PTMFramework carries a backstory of reputability, reliability, and safety. This apparent endorsement by the BPS will encourage the stigmatisation of people with ADHD.
That’s why, here at AADD-UK, we talked and made a plan the first step of which was to send an open letter (below) to the British Psychological Society in which we set out our requests. If these are met we will consider the matter closed as far as we are concerned.
We sent our letter, via Twitter, to BPS on Tuesday, 23rd January but to date we’ve not had a reply.
Never mind, the longer the delay, the longer the length of rope.
We will wait until end of day on Friday, 2 February for a reply.
Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
Open letter to the British Psychological Society
Re: The Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMFramework) *
We are a service user organisation and via public promotion on Twitter by the authors and their supporters we were alerted to the open availability of the PTMFramework.
We read it and were shocked by the strong, stigmatising suggestion that ADHD is an illusory, unprofessional, unscientific and unethical diagnosis.
We joined the public Twitter debate & gave this feedback to the lead author as well to @BPSOfficial and @UKDCP. We also pointed out that our views were not sought before publication. We asked for your response.
None has been forthcoming regarding our feedback about these two matters although a registered psychologist, supporter of the framework, did send us inappropriate tweets.
As this has taken place on Twitter, we are using the same platform to ask that the current version of the PTMFramework be retracted to allow the removal of all specific references to ADHD as well as all assertions and/or suggestions that ADHD is an invalid diagnosis.
We also respectfully suggest that the Framework be amended to meet academic standards.
Finally, we ask that you issue a public apology acknowledging the distress and stigmatisation that ADHD service users are experiencing due to the open-access publication and ongoing public promotion of the current version. We suggest that you also respond regarding the unprofessional tweets from the registered psychologist.
If these requests are met, we will consider these specific matters closed as far as we are concerned.
Susan Dunn Morua on behalf of AADD-UK
@AADDUK (other contact details supplied upon request)
1.Many psychologists are NOT supportive of this framework. Additionally, there are service users who reject their diagnosis, for valid reasons, and thus support the framework. AADD-UK fully understands, accepts and supports their right to make this choice. Our letter is only addressing the stigmatising attitude displayed towards ADHD people who have benefited from a psychiatric diagnosis
2. The British Psychological Society is a registered charity which according the blurb on their website does the following:
“. . . acts as the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK, and is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education, and application of the discipline.”
“As a society we support and enhance the development and application of psychology for the greater public good, setting high standards for research, education, and knowledge, and disseminating our knowledge to increase the wider public awareness of psychology and its importance.”
Awenat, F. & Berger, M., Coles, S., et al. (2013). Classification of behaviour and experience in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses: Time for a paradigm shift. DCP Position Statement. Leicester: British Psychological Society
*Johnstone, L. & Boyle, M. with Cromby, J., Dillon, J., Harper, D., Kinderman, P., Longden, E., Pilgrim, D. & Read, J. (2018). The Power Threat Meaning Framework: Towards the identification of patterns in emotional distress, unusual experiences and troubled or troubling behaviour, as an alternative to functional psychiatric diagnosis. Leicester: British Psychological Society
Standards of Conduct, Performance and ethics for registered psychologists
The Children and Adolescents with ADHD in Transition between Children’s Services and adult Services (CATCh-uS) project team at the University of Exeter ran a survey in 2016 with the aim of creating a map of existing NHS adult ADHD services in the UK, and then they ran another survey at the beginning of this year.
Responses to the 2016 survey have been used to create a preliminary map of existing NHS, voluntary and private services for adults with ADHD whilst the findings from the 2018 survey will be available later this year.
This map not only helps inform and improve services for young people transitioning from child and adolescent mental health services to adult mental health services, it also helps adults who need to access ADHD services. Importantly, the map also highlights areas in the UK where there are gaps in service provision.
CATCh-uS is a very important research study of young people with ADHD in transition from children’s services to adult services. It aims to establish how many young people with ADHD are in need of services for ADHD as adults, and investigate young peoples, parents and practitioners views about the transition process. It is also mapping currently available adult ADHD services around the country. It is funded by the National Institute of Health Research and has been approved by NRES South Yorkshire Ethics Committee – Yorkshire & The Humber (REC Reference: 15/YH/0426) and the University of Exeter Medical School Ethics Committee (REC Application Number: 15/07/070). This study has been adopted by the new HRA on 15th June 2016 (“HRA Approval for a study with an existing UK study wide review”). More details are available on the CATCh-uS website.
The following has been taken from the introduction to an Expert Policy Paper that explores the reasons why transitioning from child to adult mental healthcare is problematic and challenging. We’ve put a link to the full paper at the end of the following introduction:
Transition to adult services is often a difficult time for young people living with a mental
health condition. The journey through adolescence into adulthood is a time of significant
physical, psychological and social change not only for the adolescent, but also their
families. Overall rates of mental health problems can also increase during adolescence and issues become more complex, and in some cases serious disorders such as psychosis
may emerge. During this period, adolescents may also have a greater tendency for risky
behaviour, become lost in the system between child and adult mental health services and are also at greater risk of disengagement from services.
This Expert Policy Paper was developed on the basis of an Expert Working Meeting on
Mental Health and Transition, held in Brussels on 11 July 2017. The meeting brought
together expert clinicians (psychiatrists and neurologists), patient representatives, academics and mental health advocacy groups to explore the reasons why transition of care is currently suboptimal, discuss and agree on the principles for good transition and develop practical recommendations for improving transition to adult mental healthcare services. The group included expert stakeholders from the field of transition of care, mental health in general and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Expert Working Group highlighted that the problems associated with transition from child to adult services are not disease-specific; they apply to all mental health disorders, for example, epilepsy, autism and social phobia. However, to identify practical policy solutions, the Expert Working Meeting focused on ADHD as a case study in the analysis of the problems, barriers to change and potential solutions associated with transition of care.
ADHD is a diverse condition characterised by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity
and impulsivity that can have a significant impact on patients’ lives. ADHD is relatively
common and often persists into adulthood. Despite this, access to adult ADHD services
and support is generally poor, resulting in frequent gaps in care.2,11 For these reasons,
ADHD provides an example in which to frame transition to adult services across the
mental health sector.
If you would like to read the full Policy Paper, please click on Bridging the Gap
Researchers for the study of Comorbid Conditions in ADHD (CoCA) at King’s College London are looking for adolescents and young adults aged between 14 to 30 years, who have a current diagnosis of ADHD and are on stable treatment for ADHD (i.e. medical or non-medical, or no active treatment at all), to take part in a new research study investigating the use of exercise and bright light therapy to improve low mood, weight problems and general health. Participation involves one of the following 10-week interventions as well as five visits to their research centre in south London for a number of physical and mental health assessments.
(1) Exercise programme – to evaluate the effects of exercise
(2) Bright light therapy – to evaluate the effects of bright light
(3) Treatment as usual – to provide a control group with no additional interventions.
1. Diagnosis of ADHD
2. Stable treatment as usual
3.Age 14-30 years old
4. No diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, or any other severe psychiatric disorder requiring inpatient treatment
5. No severe medical or neurological condition not allowing bright light therapy or physical exercise
6. No history of epilepsy
They will help make the travel arrangements as convenient as possible and will reimburse all of your travel expenses. They will also provide a reimbursement of £200 for your time and effort, which will be paid in instalments for each of the five appointments attended.
This particular project is one part of a large international & collaborative ADHD research project (launched in April 2016) called “Comorbid Conditions of Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (CoCA)”. The aim of CoCA is to understand how and why ADHD often occurs alongside other physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and obesity. King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) is one of 17 institutions across nine countries to receive funding for this project.
Through CoCA, the researchers hope to raise awareness of ADHD, reduce the stigma associated with ADHD, and empower prevention and therapy approaches as well as providing new tools to prevent ADHD from escalating into additional disorders.
How to get involved:
For further information as well as contact details please click on the following links:
NICE Guidelines are recommendations for the treatment and care of people with ADHD by health professionals within the NHS. They are based on the best available research evidence and their aim is to improve the quality of healthcare. The guidelines are also used to develop standards to assess the clinical practice of ADHD clinics and services and are used in the education and training of health professionals. They also help us, people with ADHD, to make informed decisions and improve communication between us and the health professionals. When a guideline is developed, organisations can register as stakeholders (AADD-UK is a registered stakeholder) which means that they are consulted throughout the development process.
The original guidelines (on the diagnosis and management of ADHD) were published in September 2008 and are now being updated. The update covers the areas of identification of risk factors, post diagnostic advice, non-pharmacological and pharmacological management and intervention adherence for children, young people and adults with a diagnosis of ADHD. It does not cover any other aspect from the previous guideline.
The consultation period started on the 6th September 2017 and will end on 18th October 2017 at 5 pm. The updated guidelines are expected to be published on 21st February 2018.
NICE accepts comments during the consultation period from organisations that are registered as stakeholders but individuals can submit comments by contacting the stakeholder organisation that most closely represents their interests. AADD-UK is a stakeholder organisation and will be submitting comments so if you would like to add your suggestions or comments please feel free to send them to us by email at email@example.com. Here is a link to the NICE website with more information about the ADHD Guideline update.
Here at AADD-UK we avidly followed the news about mental health issues during Mental Health Awareness Week. We admired the bravery of those telling their own stories, we retweeted some general mental health links instead of those that only dealt directly with ADHD, all the while preparing for our 10th Year Anniversary by revamping our website. Then suddenly we realised we’d forgotten the elephant in our own parlour! So we decided to write, just before the week ended, our own position for Mental Health Awareness Week.. Here it is:
First, we thanked the Mental Health Foundation for hosting the week, and thanked them for commissioning the survey and consequent report “Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK’s mental health.” The authors of the report wrote that despite “many areas of advances in human health we are not seeing these reflected in mental health. If anything, the signs are that we are slipping back.” They backed this up by shockingly disclosing that only 13% of those surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales had “high positive mental health” and that nearly “two-thirds of people say that they have experienced a mental health problem” and others were clearly “just about surviving.”
The authors further reported that those of us living with either low household incomes or unemployment have worse mental health than those employed at higher incomes. 3 in 4 people at the lowest income level, 85% of unemployed people, 7 in every 10 women, 7 in every 10 young adults (aged 18-34), and 7 in 10 people living alone experienced poor mental health. Additionally, the authors quoted the “Mental Health and Wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014” (published last year) which revealed that every week 1 in 6 adults experienced a “common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression. 1 in 5 adults reported that they had considered taking their own life at some point.”
I sat in silence and reflected upon those numbers and felt an overwhelming sadness. So much unnoticed desperation and despair! Swiftly followed by anger; “Who can I blame?” “Where shall I point my finger?” You see, all this correlated almost exactly with our own experiences in the ADHD world.
It’s been almost 10 years since we set up AADD-UK with hope and optimism. During that 10 years, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published ADHD Guidelines in which adults were included for the first time. Of course there was some initial resistance but over the years more and more professionals became interested, more and more moved into the field, more and more research confirmed ADHD as valid (even the usual tabloid suspects now, tentatively, report positive ADHD stories) and there are more ADHD services in the UK than the 3 that existed 10 years ago.
But all is not well! As awareness of ADHD grows, funding for ADHD services dwindles. Some GP’s, due to funding shortages, are reluctant to refer us to services. In truth, not all of the ADHD services have enough funding to meet the NICE Guidelines. It’s even been suggested, in one known circumstance, that the Guidelines be disregarded. A couple of services have surreptitiously tried to close. Some have decided not to publicise their contact details for fear they’ll get more referrals than allowed for by their funding. Of course, this means that waiting lists are getting longer and longer; even up to 2 years long! It’s true that gate keepers and sign posters cheerily point us to psychological therapies suggesting we use them while waiting. But guess what? Yep that’s right! We’re shuffled onto the end of another waiting list where some of us must try not to listen to whispers about the low quality of the offerings. So, there we are, stuck waiting, struggling to cope with abysmally low self-esteem, hurting, lonely, barely surviving. What does this matter when it’s said that ADHD makes us resilient, that we’re used to hard knocks, that we’re survivors? It matters because we understand too well that surviving is not thriving and that knowledge is painful!
And what about those of us who’ve been diagnosed and are taking medication? We’re all thriving right? Well not exactly. Medication is indeed all that some of us need. We can now concentrate as well as focus better. That helps us to, at last, move on and up. It helps us to feel relief as well as feel the joy of achievement. Some of us can even choose between seeing a consultant privately for follow-ups or waiting months to see the same consultant on the NHS. There’s a group of us too who, after a competent diagnosis of ADHD, don’t need any further help, not even medication. It’s enough that somebody listened, took us seriously, evaluated patterns underlying our difficulties, and found a way to help us understand. That’s all we needed to find our own way, to thrive and flourish.
Some of us, though, have been so pressured and battered by an uncomprehending and stigmatising life that the clarity that comes with medication also carries the aching revelation that our graceful childhood spirits have turned into cut-down and subjugated ghosts. Taking the right medication is not all we need. Before we can move from surviving to thriving we need help, we need to rediscover our true spirits, our real potential. Yet we’re stuck in the low income, or underemployed, or unemployed bracket. So we ask the NHS for help, get sign posted to psychological therapies, by the same cheery folk our clan members encountered, and off we shuffle to join the end of a waiting list. There we are waiting, masks firmly in place (we don’t want pity), acting as if we don’t care but feeling worn-out, inside crying, mourning for our lost and trusting childhood. We’re surviving and that’s all!
Still, at least the mere fact that we’re waiting allows us a bit more hope than those of us who’ve not been noticed. Some of us in this group are being shuffled from one wrong diagnosis to another wrong diagnosis, from one wrong medicine to another wrong medicine. Never having our true reality heard or acknowledged. Some of us become disheartened, lose faith and sink into helplessness. And then what about those of us who learn to believe from early on that we are seemingly born to live life as a failure, never understanding why that appears to be our fate? All of us too are barely surviving!
It’s such a waste because every single one of us with ADHD has the potential to flourish. We would love to use our strengths and abilities to help others, to be a benefit. We don’t need much. Just the right attention and the right support at the right time. Actually you know what? That’s not hard to provide!
Now I’m angry again so I’m jumping right off the fence and pointing my finger squarely at you, the Government. I’m pointing at you, Theresa May, as well as at you, Jeremy Hunt. If you get back in charge, for goodness sake stop with your wasteful changing, privatising and building inequality into the health service. Instead, if you really care about helping people to thrive, helping the country to prosper (you do, don’t you?), stand back and for once look at the big picture.
The prevalence rate for children with ADHD is between 5 to 7%, of whom approximately 65% will continue to experience symptoms in adulthood. In other words, roughly 3% to 4% of all adults have ADHD. To make it clearer, about 1 in 25 adults have ADHD. That’s a lot of us! That’s a lot of us costing you a lot of money!
Leaving us unrecognised, undiagnosed, untreated or treated ineffectively, or pushing us onto waiting lists is costing you, the Government, a lot of money in lost tax revenue, inappropriate treatments, repeat visits to A&E, clearing up after our accidents, looking after our brothers and sisters in prisons, and so on and so on (you want evidence, ask and we’ll give it freely). It’s cheaper, far cheaper, to increase NHS mental health funding so that all of us can receive proper help! We want to use our strengths, abilities and skills. We can use them to thrive and flourish!
And here’s a final note, the need for mental health awareness and funding did not disappear with the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. The two thirds of people living in England, Scotland and Wales who’ve experienced mental health problems, including all of us with ADHD, are still here on Monday morning. Funding and treatment for everybody experiencing mental ill health is still needed and is still vital. With that, and with preventative care, all of us will thrive and flourish and so too will the country.
I’ve had my say for now! It’s time for you, the Government (whichever of you ends up in charge) to listen and act!
UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) is currently investigating the role of excessive/uncontrolled mind wandering in ADHD. As part of this research they are conducting a survey on mind wandering, ADHD and the links to educational and occupational outcomes, including both potential impairments and benefits (such as creativity) that might be linked to mind wandering in ADHD.
They have already collected a large sample of around 1,000 non-ADHD controls. Now they wish to compare this to findings from patients who have been diagnosed with ADHD. They are therefore looking for clinicians working in adult ADHD clinics to help them by handing out information sheets to patients with ADHD which invites them to take part in this research by completing the online survey.
If you are willing to assist in this research please contact Professor Philip Asherson by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). They would like your name, work address and name of your NHS Trust, or if in a private clinics, just the address of the clinic, to add your site to the current ethics for this work.
If you wish for further information please contact Professor Philip Asherson. He can then send you a copy of their recent publication on this topic, and a rating scale that can be used to measured excessive mind wandering in adults with ADHD.
The Departments of Child Psychiatry and Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, are looking for right-handed male volunteers with ADHD between 18-35 years of age to participate in a research project.
The project is studying areas that may cause difficulties for some people with ADHD, such as attention, timing and decision-making. This is not a treatment trial and participation in this project won’t help you directly. However, they hope that this project will help them better understand these difficulties and develop ways of helping people with ADHD who may have problems in some of these areas. For further details please UKAAN here: https://www.ukaan.org/research-by-ukaan-members.htm
If you have any questions, please contact Dr Clodagh Murphy at the IoPPN: email@example.com,
or call 0207 848 0984.
BBC Horizon is making a documentary exploring ADHD. There will be two strands to the documentary and so they are looking for two groups of contributors with experiences with ADHD as follows:
Call out #1
“Does your child have ADHD?
BBC Horizon is making a documentary exploring ADHD, aiming to create a wider public understanding of the condition. Presented by Rory Bremner, a comedian with a particular interest in ADHD, the BBC is hoping to shed light on this commonly misunderstood condition.
The BBC wants to meet parents of children with ADHD who can tell them about what life’s like; and to also hear from their child about their own experience of the condition.
If you’re interested, please get in touch with Zoe on firstname.lastname@example.org, just for a chat in the first instance. The BBC will be very pleased to hear your story.
Call out #2
“Do you have ADHD? Do you feel it has it impacted your life?
BBC Horizon is making a documentary exploring ADHD, looking at the variety of ways that mild to severe ADHD can impact people’s lives in both a negative and or even positive way: with the aim of to increasing public understanding of this condition. It will be presented by Rory Bremner, a comedian who has first-hand experience of the condition. For a specific item of the programme, we want to hear from people with ADHD who feel their condition might have contributed to them entering the criminal justice system.
Please do get in touch if you think this is you. In the first instance, it would just be a chat on the phone – you do not need to commit to anything upfront.
The BBC appreciates the sensitive nature of the subject, and will handle all calls with the utmost confidentiality and respect.
The BBC is interested by the fact that ADHD is overrepresented in the prison population, and are interested in speaking with people who feel as though their ADHD may have contributed to their criminal behaviour. They hope that by sharing your story, the BBC can help to shed light on this commonly misunderstood disorder.
If you’re interested, please get in touch with Zoe on email@example.com: just for a chat in the first instance.”
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) will host its 6th Congress from Wed 20th to Fri 22nd September 2017. This 3 day conference will take place at the Mermaid Conference and Events Centre, which will accommodate up to 600 delegates in a Theatre. The venue is situated between the City and the West End, on the North Bank of the Thames, and enjoys spectacular views towards the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge.
The conference is titled ‘ADHD in the mainstream’ to reflect the rapid increase in recognition and treatment of ADHD by adult mental health services. ADHD is a common disorder effecting around 5% of children and 3% of adults, with symptoms and impairments that overlap with other common mental health disorders. The role that ADHD plays in the health of many adults presenting with mental health problems is now much more widely recognised, yet recent evidence suggests that in many cases the disorder still goes unrecognised or treated. Our vision is to bring ADHD into the mainstream, so that all mental health professionals have the knowledge and understanding to diagnose and treat ADHD, in the same way as other common mental health disorders.
This meeting aims to raise the level of awareness, knowledge and expertise among health care professionals about people with ADHD and provide a better understanding of the persistence of the disorder, the development of comorbid mental health problems and the delivery of effective treatments.
The program will be delivered by prominent opinion leaders, clinical experts and internationally recognised investigators and is designed to cover key topics relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD from adolescence to early and late adulthood. The selection of speakers is particularly important so that the audience can hear directly from the most experienced professionals working in this rapidly developing area of clinical psychiatry.
Registration is now open on the UKAAN Website http://www.ukaan.org/adhd-in-the-mainstream/
Please help us with a very important study from the University of Exeter. The project is about children and young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in transition between children’s services and adult services.
One piece of the project, however, is a mapping survey designed to find out which adult ADHD services are out there for young people with ADHD aged 18 and over to transition into from children’s services. This means that this survey can be answered by any person of any age who has knowledge of ADHD services, whether they have ADHD themselves or not and whether they are a parent/carer or not.
If you click on this link you will be guided to a page where you can tell the researchers about adult ADHD services in your area – or equally important the lack of adult services. The online questionnaire asks no more than 8 questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
The survey is anonymous and your response will contribute to the creation of a map detailing adult ADHD services currently available in the UK. If you want more information about the project, the research team have a website where you can find more information here
Thank you very much for helping us with this very important project.
Please note the survey is closing on Saturday, 31st December so please feel free to share this with anyone who may not yet have had a chance to complete the survey.
The Bristol Adult ADHD Support Group Meeting has an important visitor, Ian Popperwell, coming to the next support group meeting on Friday, 9th December.
Ian is a commissioning manager from the Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (Bristol CCG) and he is the lead manager responsible for commissioning (i.e. buying) the services provided by the ADHD NHS Clinic at the Petherton Resource Centre in Hengrove, Bristol.
Ian is interested in talking with group members about their experiences of the current ADHD service (assessment/diagnosis and medication) as well as also hearing from them about other kinds of support and interventions that they feel would also meet their needs. This is a very good opportunity for the voices of people with ADHD in Bristol to be heard.
More information about the support group meetings can be found here.
This is an online survey investigating if mind wandering can lead to differences in our education, occupation, and creativity. Everyone’s mind wanders, but we all do it to a different degree, so what is its impact? For some it may be useful and lead to creativity or working in a certain profession. For others it may have a negative effect, perhaps by making it difficult to learn at school. Severe mind wandering that just won’t seem to stop could also be associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By exploring the relationship between these things researchers can better understand the impact of mind wandering and the extent to which it affects peoples’ lives.
This project is being organised by researchers at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London.
Before you decide if you would like to take part, it is important that you understand why the researchers are conducting this research and what your participation will involve. Please read this information sheet carefully and discuss it with others if you wish. Also, please ask the researchers if anything is unclear or you would like further information. Contact details can be found on the Information Sheet here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0s7RDt2l670bVBfNFEzSVRqbGc/view
What participating involves
You must be aged 16 or over to participate. You will be asked to complete the online survey, which takes around 10 – 15 minutes. You do not have to complete it in one session; you can save your responses and return to it at a later time (but it must be within 1 week of starting the survey). You will be asked questions about your education, occupation, health, behaviour, and personality. By participating you can contribute to research that can further our understanding of the implications of mind wandering.
Participation is entirely voluntary. You should only participate if you want to; choosing not to will not disadvantage you in any way. If you decide to take part you can still withdraw from the study at any point without giving a reason, up until the point of data analyses. Selecting the relevant boxes in the electronic consent form indicates your consent to participate in this research, and for all submitted data to be used. This includes submission of partially completed surveys, whereby pressing the ‘next’ or ‘continue’ button indicates your consent for data entered up to that point to be included in the study.
There will also be a chance to be entered into a prize draw to win one of five £50 Amazon vouchers when you complete the survey.
The Survey is hosted by Qualtrics (www.qualtrics.com), a survey platform that treats all data as highly confidential. The data does not belong to them and they do not know what data is being collected. They use best industry practices to keep data safe and their servers are protected by high-end firewall systems. Any information you provide in this study will be kept strictly confidential, and any personal details you provide will be kept separate from your survey responses ensuring anonymity. You will be provided with a unique identification number which will be used for all your data stored on our database. Information will be handled in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act 1998. During analyses individual data will not be identifiable.
Results arising from this study will be included in a PhD thesis and presented at international academic conferences and published in academic journals. The researchers may also disseminate research findings through media outlets, including social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).
Questions and queries
If you have any questions or require more information about this study, please contact the researcher. Contact details are on the information sheet.
To complete the survey, please use the following link:
Please help us with a very important study from the University of Exeter. The project is about children and young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in transition between children’s services and adult services.
One piece of the project, however, is a mapping survey designed to find out which adult ADHD services are out there for young people with ADHD aged 18 and over to transition into from children’s services. This means that this survey can be answered by any person of any age who has knowledge of ADHD services, whether they have ADHD themselves or not and whether they are a parent/carer or not.
If you click on this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CATCh-uS_SU you will be guided to a page where you can tell the researchers about adult ADHD services in your area or equally important the lack of adult services.
The online questionnaire asks no more than 8 questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
The survey is anonymous and your response will contribute to the creation of a map detailing adult ADHD services currently available in the UK.
If you want more information about the project, the research team have a website where you can find more information: http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/catchus/mapping/
Thank you very much for helping us with this very important project.
Please help us with a study from the University of Exeter. The project is about children and young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in transition between children’s services and adult services.
One piece of the project, however, is a mapping survey designed to find out which adult ADHD services are out there for young people with ADHD aged 18 and over to transition into from children’s services. This means that this survey can be answered by any person of any age who has knowledge of ADHD services, whether they have ADHD themselves or not and whether they are a parent/carer or not.
If you click on this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CATCh-uS_SU you will be guided to a page where you can tell the researchers about adult ADHD services in your area – or equally important the lack of adult services. The online questionnaire asks no more than 8 questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
The survey is anonymous and your response will contribute to the creation of a map detailing adult ADHD services currently available in the UK. If you want more information about the project, the research team have a website where you can find more information: http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/catchus/mapping/
Thank you very much for helping us with this project.
February 25, 2016
The NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group has now put an expanded explanation on their website as follows:
The contract for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) services in Wiltshire is held by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust (AWP). The current contract will come to an end at the end of March. We have negotiated a temporary ADHD contract with AWP to cover the period from 1 March 2016 until 31 August 2016. This extension will ensure that a large proportion of the current services can continue until we are able to review the whole contract, and a permanent two year contract can be agreed. The new contract will be in place by 1 September 2016. If we achieve this earlier you will, of course, be advised accordingly.
Until this time AWP will continue to provide an ongoing service for:
•Existing patients who have already been assessed and diagnosed
•Existing patients who require ongoing follow up and prescribing
•Patients already being cared for under the shared care process
•Urgent and/or prioritised new referrals as approved by the CCG Exceptions Panel
However, AWP will not be accepting new referrals unless identified as above.
Please note the PALS team at the CCG advise that they have requested this information is updated to confirm that it relates to the adult service as this is not clear.
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February 23, 2016
The Bristol Adult ADHD Support Group has received the following update regarding the Wiltshire NHS ADHD service:
Wiltshire CCG are now pleased to advise that an extension of their contract with AWP has been agreed with effect from 1st March. This is designed to give both the CCG and AWP breathing space to agree a more permanent 2 year contract and negotiations for this are already underway.
During the period of the extended Wiltshire contract, all existing patients will be seen as they would have expected and no longer need to refer back to their GPs.
For the time being however, no new patients will be seen until current capacity issues have been resolved and these patients may wish to consult their GP again in the meantime. It is important to note that these arrangements apply ONLY to Wiltshire patients.
Therefore there will now be NO change if you live in Wiltshire and ARE already receiving treatment from the Wiltshire NHS ADHD service.
For the time being things are more difficult for adults living in Wiltshire who want to be assessed for ADHD. If you are in this situation, I suggest you go to your GP and politely but as clearly as possible state your reasons for wanting an assessment (written evidence is always helpful).
If you get turned down which seems likely at the moment, either ring or email the NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0300 123 2103 (live 9am – 5pm; answer phone outside of office hours) or WCCG.firstname.lastname@example.org and politely tell them you want to make a formal complaint. More information here
If you still cannot get an assessment, then ask your MP to write a letter on your behalf. Here’s a link to the Wiltshire MP’s
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February 13, 2016
From 1 April 2016, the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) service delivered in Wiltshire by AWP will be decommissioned. AWP have informed patients affected by this decision, and the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have informed all their GPs.
Please note that this change affects the Wiltshire ADHD service only. It does NOT affect the Wiltshire Autism Diagnostic Service (WADS), the rest of AWP’s ADHD service, or any other service provided by AWP.
AWP has provided an ADHD service for adults living in Wiltshire, on behalf of Wiltshire CCG, since 2014. Over the last year, Wiltshire CCG and AWP have been reviewing the current ADHD service. AWP proposed a number of new clinical service models that complied with NICE guidelines, however at this time a decision has been taken not to extend the contract beyond 31 March.
Anyone who has concerns about how this change will affect them can speak to the Wiltshire PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) . Contact details for Wiltshire PALS is available from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
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As a reminder to those who make commissioning decisions under the Equality Act 2010, the definition of a disability is a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on someone’s ability to do normal daily activities.
The public sector equality duty (section 149 of the Equality Act) applies to public bodies and those carrying out public functions. It supports good decision-making by ensuring public bodies consider how different people will be affected by their activities. It also helps them to deliver policies and services which are efficient and effective, accessible to all, and which meet different people’s needs.
The equality duty requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;
advance equality of opportunity between people who are covered under the equality act and people who are not;
foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
Having due regard means consciously thinking about the three aims of the equality duty as part of the process of decision making, including the provision of a robust health and safety management system.
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) will host its 5th Congress on Fri 22nd and Sat 23rd April 2016. This 2 day conference is entitled ‘Key Challenges and Practical Solutions – a Clinician focused conference on Adult ADHD’
There is growing recognition of the role of ADHD in adult mental health and the availability of effective clinical and psychosocial interventions. The conference will build on this growing expertise by providing a European perspective that highlights the full range of functional, cognitive and mental health impairments, the impact that ADHD has on adolescent and adult mental health and the contribution to adolescent and adult psychopathology. This meeting will address important clinical questions relating to the management of ADHD in adults and will be relevant to clinicians interested in the mental health of people from the adolescent years through to early, middle and later adult life.
This meeting aims to raise the level of awareness, knowledge and expertise among health care professionals about people with ADHD as they grow older; and to provide a better understanding of the persistence of the disorder and the development of comorbid mental health problems. The program will be delivered by prominent opinion leaders, clinical experts and internationally recognised investigators and is designed to cover key topics relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD during the critical period from adolescence to adulthood. The selection of speakers is particular important so that the audience can hear directly from the most experienced professionals working in this rapidly developing area of clinical psychiatry.
More information can be found on UKAAN’s website
The Maudsley adult ADHD service is hosting their first national conference for adults with lived experienced of ADHD on Friday, 22 January 2016 from 09:00 to 16:00 (GMT) at the ORTUS learning and event centre – 82-96 Grove Lane London, London SE5 8SN .
This conference has been developed in a collaboration between mental health professionals and service user experts with a grant from the Maudsley Charity. The aim of this important event is to raise awareness of ADHD in adults and provide an opportunity to come together to share experience and learning.
Research and clinical updates
Positive experiences of ADHD
What support is available for adults with ADHD?
ADHD in the workplace
How is ADHD portrayed in the media?
Mindfulness and ADHD
There is a £5 cover charge which will be refunded if registrant attends conference. Registration includes access to the full conference, refreshments and lunch.
Here is a link to more Information
Here is a link to the Agenda
Here is a link to Booking Information
We are currently updating our website and so far we have added new information to 3 of our Library pages, namely ADHD in the News, Research Articles, and Books. And we have also added new ADHD events to our Calendar.
And at long last we are in the process of adding new names, and updating contact details, on our lists of Psychiatrists, Psychologists/Counsellors, Occupational Therapists (a brand new list so we’ve only got one name at the moment), Coaches, and Support Groups. So if you would like to have your services added to our lists, or to have your details updated, you will find how to contact us on the relevant page. There is no charge for adding your details to our website because we are managing and maintaining this website as a free resource for the ADHD community.
When we have completed our lists of Help & Support, we will be updating and adding new information to the remainder of our pages so please bear with us.
And in the meantime please feel free to join us in our support forum where you can ask questions and chat with others about all ADHD matters.
AADD-UK has received an email from Sarah Bell, BBC News Impact Producer, asking us to pass on her thank you to everyone for getting in touch; she had an incredible response.
Here are two clips from the programme:
And here is an online article from the BBC
AADD-UK has received an email from Sarah Bell who is a producer for the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC2 and the News Channel.
She is hoping to make a film about adult ADHD, based on a study by King’s College London which identifies significant differences in brain activity between children whose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continues into adolescence and adulthood, and those who later grow out of the disorder. They would like to make a short film about someone who has the condition and how it affects their life, perhaps spending a day with them. They would then hope to follow it up with a studio discussion. Sarah has assured us that this will be sensitively and responsibly handled by the BBC. This sounds like a good and positive opportunity for our voices to be heard.
Ideally they would like to start filming next week.
If anyone is interested, or would like more information please contact Sarah directly at email@example.com.
Here’s a link to information about the new study that has got the BBC interested in adults with ADHD
Update on 2nd May 2014: to email sent to the Opposition Chief Whip regarding Graham Allen MP and his guest Dr Bruce Perry of “ADHD not a real disease” infamy.
I have not yet had a reply to the letter below which I sent on Tuesday, 8th April 2014 despite the fact that I was told by a member of Rosie Winterton’s staff that we would get a reply within two weeks.
I was polite and gave them three weeks to allow for the Easter week, and then rang Rosie Winterton’s office yesterday morning (Thursday, 1 May 2014) at 9:15 am. An equally polite chap answered the phone, he recognised the name of AADD-UK and he knew about our complaint. He explained that the Special Advisors (Spads) were “looking at it” and would get back to us. I asked which Spad in particular is “looking at” the complaint, and if he had any idea when the Spad would get back to us. The polite chappie said he didn’t know when we would get an answer because he’s just the civil servant, but he did give me the name of the Spad, Luke Sullivan. The civil servant also told me that he’d again put our complaint in front of Luke Sullivan.
Fingers crossed this is more promising than it sounds! Somehow the “Thick of It” popped into my mind during this conversation.
Just as a BTW I see that Luke Sullivan was a Spad in the Chief Whip’s office when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister (2009) which surprised me because I thought Spads got sacked when their bosses left. The document I looked at also gave his pay scale which wasn’t bad, not bad at all considering that he was only in pay band 2 which was near the bottom.
And just in case you are wondering who Rosie Winterton is, well she was Labour’s pension minister when The Telegraph wrote about her on 29th May 2009 in relation to the expenses scandal. And if you read the article (click here) you will see that her salary wasn’t bad, not bad at all, and much, much better than Luke’s.
Now I’m going to confess to you that before I rang Rosie Winterton’s office I had an ADHD moment and by mistake I rang the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (that’s the office that found Maria Miller MP guilty of claiming £45,000 in expenses to which she wasn’t entitled, and was then subsequently overruled by a committee of MP’s–beg their pardons there were three lay members on the committee except of course they weren’t allowed to vote).
After we’d sorted out that I wasn’t talking to the person I thought I was, we had a nice chat about how members of the public can hold MP’s accountable for their conduct (after I’d explained that we’d already written to Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, Rosie Winterton, and of course Mr Graham Allen himself and were still waiting to hear from any of them) and as a result of our little chat I’ve now learnt that as members of the public we’ve got 3 options namely vote next year (duh!!), get legal advice (expensive waste of money when we already know Graham Allen is wrong,) or go to the media (aha!).
So there we are for the moment; waiting to hear something (hopefully more than nothing)from Mr Luke Sullivan, SpAd to Opposition Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton MP Labour. We’ll keep you updated!
Further Update: 2nd May 2014 p.m.
And now we read in the Closer that Katie Hopkins (the former apprentice that Sir Alan Sugar called unemployable) has made it her mission to attack mothers of children with ADHD. Even worse according to today’s article in the Closer, Katie Hopkins was “inspired into ‘badmouthing’ ADHD children by Dr Bruce Perry” and what’s more the remainder of the article contains several unhelpful remarks about ADHD that were made by Katie’s ‘hero’ on the eve of his visit to the UK. Dr Perry was invited to the UK by Graham Allen MP. So thank you very much Mr Allen for encouraging the likes of Katie Hopkins!
Tuesday, 8th April 2014
The following email has been sent from AADD-UK to the Opposition Chief Whip:
Right Honourable Ms Rosie Winterton, Opposition Chief Whip
I am writing on behalf of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder – UK (AADD-UK) to make a complaint about Mr Graham Allen. We have tried to resolve the matter directly with Mr Allen but he has not responded.
Mr Allen has endorsed an article that appeared in the Observer on Sunday, 30th March 2014 titled “ADHD ‘not a real disease’ says US neuroscientist.” Mr Allen has placed a photograph of this article (30th March) on his official Twitter account (@GrahamAllenMP) along with the caption “Dr Bruce Perry, my Early Intervention hero, in UK today, want to attend his EIF events over next 2 days?”
In addition, Mr Allen also has placed a photograph on Twitter (1st April) which is captioned “Dr Bruce Perry speaks to Labour shadow ministers this morning”, this photograph and caption gives the appearance that Dr Perry’s views could potentially also be the Labour Party’s views (I have attached copies of Mr Allen’s Tweets).
We feel that Mr Allen is potentially in breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament namely:
1. Members have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination.
We feel that it is harassment for a public figure, an MP, to invite and host a doctor who in the past has spoken against ADHD, and then to publicly approve his guest’s stigmatising opinion made on the eve of his visit to the UK that ADHD is not real. It is harassment not only because ADHD is a recognised disability that meets the requirements for a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, but also because people with ADHD in the UK already had significant problems with daily living intensified by shame generated from home-grown discriminatory comments and behaviour. We did not, therefore, need Members of Parliament validating such derogatory opinions and thus causing us further humiliation and distress.
2. Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.
Given that the prevalence rate for ADHD in the UK is between 2-5%, it is more than likely that Mr Allen has constituents with ADHD. His inviting and hosting a guest such as Dr Perry who openly speaks his mind about ADHD, followed by Mr Allen’s public endorsement of Dr Perry’s views makes it nearly impossible for Mr Allen’s constituents who either have ADHD themselves, or care for someone with ADHD, or have a friend or relation with ADHD to contact him and ask him to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons. It also means that they are excluded from political activities for as long as Mr Allen remains their MP.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence, in 2008, completed a full review of the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD across the lifespan and published guidelines in September 2008. These guidelines did help to stimulate the development of service provision for ADHD in the UK. But ADHD services, particularly for adults, are still too scarce in the UK. This is of relevance for children and young people because as they transition from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services there are frequently no adult services available in their area. And unfortunately austerity measures have meant that many mental health services have been cut, and sometimes waiting lists for ADHD services can be as long as 18 months! Indeed sometimes the barriers are so high that people with ADHD have resorted to asking their MP’s for help accessing services. This makes it all the more disappointing that Mr Allen presents himself as endorsing the view that ADHD is not real, because this means that people will be deterred from going to their MP’s for help, not just for ADHD matters but for any reason.
Mr Allen is not setting a good example and this is not good for the nation because the proportion of people receiving treatment for ADHD in the UK is lower than the prevalence rate and failure to treat ADHD is costly to society. There is plenty of evidence to show that untreated ADHD leads to increased rates of unemployment, addictions, criminal convictions, and poor social adjustments. I have included links to relevant documents at the end of this email.
In addition, when Mr Allen endorsed Dr Perry’s opinions in a Tweet and followed this up with a Tweet accompanied by a photograph of Labour Shadow Ministers listening to Dr Perry, and a photograph of Dr Perry with Francis Maude the perception was created that it could be Labour policy as well as Coalition Government Policy to discount ADHD as a valid disorder. That’s a deterrent that would inhibit the rest of us from also engaging with the entire political process.
3. Members should act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them. They should always behave with probity and integrity, including in their use of public resources.
Dr Perry would possibly not have had a chance to express his opinions in the UK media if he had not been invited to come and meet Government ministers by Mr Allen. But he was invited here, and his opinions have been endorsed and validated by Mr Allen, not just by the publication of the photograph that we described earlier, but by the fact that Mr Allen helped Dr Perry meet with Government officials including Iain Duncan Smith, Jeremy Hunt, and Francis Maude (see attached photograph) and also with Labour Shadow Ministers. This creates the further perception, rightly or wrongly, that taxpayer money is being used to help promote anti-ADHD views, as well as to pay for the time of ministers and others who met with Dr Perry, who sat and listened to his presentations, and who in at least one case was photographed with him.
4. “Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.” (V, 10)
We most definitely feel that Mr Allen has confused and mixed his personal interests and opinions with public interests regarding his work in early intervention, his reports about early intervention, as well as his creation of the Early Intervention Foundation. We are concerned that Mr Allen invited, hosted, and endorsed Dr Perry who on the eve of his visit to the UK to meet with Government ministers on behalf of Early Intervention expressed to a major newspaper the biased and inflammatory opinion that ADHD is not real because that makes us wonder how Mr Allen’s Early Intervention Foundation will be able to provide “practical advice and support to those trying to make Early Intervention a reality on the ground” when at the core there appears to be a complete lack of knowledge and acceptance that a common neurological disorder affecting behaviour and attention is indeed real.
To resolve this conflict in favour of public interest we feel that ADHD should always be a consideration in anything relating to early intervention whether it be of Mr Allen’s design or that of others, and we would like written assurance regarding that. We should also like Mr Allen to withdraw all photographs and references relating to Dr Perry from his Tweets and that includes the photograph of the Observer article. And finally we would like a letter of apology from Mr Allen which we will publish.
At the bottom of this email is a sampling of some of the articles that appeared in the traditional press repeating response to Dr Perry’s opinions (Dr Perry was also widely quoted in many other news sources, various blogs, forums, Facebook, and Twitter), as well as a sampling of information about ADHD.
I look forward to hearing from you.
AADD-UK has sent the following email to Graham Allen MP with copies to Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, & Andy Burnham:
Dear Mr Allen,
I am very sorry to say this but one of your tweets (at 12:46 p.m. on Sunday, 30 Mar 2014) has caused considerable offence. It is a photograph of a newspaper article entitled “ADHD ‘not a real disease’ says US neuroscientist” and above it you have placed the following caption: “Dr Bruce Perry, my Early Intervention hero, in UK today . . .”.
I have attached a copy of your tweet.
The offence caused by the photograph is made worse by your use of the word “hero” to describe Dr Perry.
Also, I don’t know if Dr Perry was misquoted in the Observer, but if he wasn’t it was not helpful for your guest to make such statements about ADHD (an area in which he does not have specialised knowledge) on the eve of his visit to the UK. His remarks, as stated in The Observer, were very widely publicised in many reputable and otherwise newspapers, blogs, and forums. And all this at a time when people with ADHD are already struggling to overcome considerable stigma and discrimination as well as struggling to access much needed help so that they can live fulfilled lives. The firestorm of adverse publicity increased the distress and anxiety of many people with ADHD.
Would you please consider taking down the offending tweet and offering an apology to people with ADHD. I appreciate that you are trying to do your best for children through the Early Intervention Foundation, but since mental health services (and other much needed services) have been badly affected by the coalition government’s cuts, we all, adults included, need at least some politicians that we feel will listen.
I look forward to hearing from you.
So now we are waiting to see if they are listening! We’ll keep you updated!
Background and context
This survey came as a result of the researcher’s collaboration with AADD-UK and his regular attendance to 4 support groups which generated questions in relation to the development of adult ADHD support groups; how many groups are there in the UK, what is their membership and what do they do? The numbers of groups making contact with AADD-UK and its website has been growing in the last five years; they are very diverse in their organization, in what they provide and so are the local contexts in which they evolve. But they all have in common that they provide a much needed space for information, help and support for individuals who are or have yet to be diagnosed with ADHD as well as for their relatives and partners.
The aim of this survey was to provide an updated picture of the state of adult ADHD support groups in the UK; we hope this would in turn help individuals, families and professionals in accessing updated information on the AADD-UK website for better local signposting.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
1. Significant increase in numbers of support groups, starting from 2009, peaking in 2011 and an increase of membership.
It is worth noting a rapid increase in numbers of groups since 2009, but it is unclear if this trend will continue. Some groups have also folded in the last 2 years, mainly for reason of lack of funding and so the present economical context may make it difficult for some groups to develop or sustain their activities. An increase in membership has also been observed in the three groups the researcher has had contact with since 2009; the average attendance then was of 11 members per meeting, it is now in 2013 an average of 19 members per meeting with a gender mix of 52% male, 48% female.
2. 9 groups out of 23 , just under 40% , receive funding
There are more groups receiving funding than ever before, and the more recent groups seem very good at that. More data is required to understand how funding is accessed, if groups are set up as charities, social enterprise and how sustainable the funding is.
3. Three quarters of the groups are run by adults who describe themselves as having ADHD.
Despite the difficulties that ADHD can produce the large majority of groups are run by facilitators that identify themselves as having ADHD, and some do this in partnership with people who do not have ADHD. Out of the 14 new groups that have formed since 2009, 13 of them have been formed by adults identifying themselves as having ADHD. More research would help in understanding what their experiences bring in the running of a support group.
4. Wide range of activities, including 6 groups providing structured courses.
The groups are adapting to the local context and the needs of their members with ADHD and provide more and more services that are not provided anywhere else. But the main activity the groups have in common is the support and help they give to each other through the sharing of their experience of living with ADHD.
We believe these findings show a vibrant and growing community of support groups for adult with ADHD that are resourceful and determined to provide a safe place to share experience and information.. This survey highlights some of the common points between groups but the diversity between groups is also worth noting, each group is unique in its history and style and respond to particular local circumstances. The full survey is available in our library here.
Claude Jousselin and the AADD-UK team.
As part of the Science in Health Public Lecture Series, Professor Anita Thapar of Cardiff University will consider myths and misunderstandings around ADHD, and she will focus on what has been learnt from science, and how this might help clinical and educational practice.
The lecture which is free and open to the public will take place at Cardiff University Main Building. It will take place on Thursday, 16th January at 19.00. Booking is not needed. More information is available from Cardiff University here.
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) will host its 4th Congress in September 2014, entitled ADHD – Mind, Brain and Body, in conjunction with ENAA and APSARD. The conference will take place over 3 days, at the Mermaid Conference and Events Centre which is situated between the City and the West End in London. Located on the North Bank of the Thames, it enjoys spectacular views towards the Tate Modern, the Globe theatre and the Millennium Bridge. The theatre will accommodate 600 people, and there will also be opportunities to attend parallel sessions throughout the event.
The conference will bring together internationally recognised experts in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD across the lifespan and highlight basic science and clinical research that contributes to our current understanding of ADHD as a lifespan disorder. Clinical services for ADHD during the transition years from adolescence to adulthood and for those newly diagnosed as adults are developing rapidly throughout many parts of Europe. The conference will build on this growing expertise by providing a uniquely European perspective that highlights the full range of functional, cognitive and mental health impairments, the impact that ADHD has on adolescent and adult mental health and the contribution to adolescent and adult psychopathology. This meeting will address important clinical and scientific questions relating to ADHD and will be relevant to anyone interested in the mental health of people from the adolescent years through to early, middle and later adult life.
This meeting aims to raise the level of awareness and knowledge among health care professionals about people with ADHD as they grow older; and to provide a better understanding of the causal pathways involved in the persistence of the disorder and the development of important clinical comorbidities. The program will be delivered by prominent opinion leaders, clinical experts and internationally recognised investigators and is designed to cover key topics relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD during the critical period from adolescence to adulthood. The selection of speakers is particular important so that the audience can hear directly from the most experienced professionals working in this rapidly developing area of clinical psychiatry.
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) was established in March 2009 to provide support, education, research and training for mental health professionals working with adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). UKAAN was founded by a group of experienced mental health specialists who run clinical services for adults with ADHD within the National Health Service.
More information about the 4th Congress, and registration details are available on UKAAN’s website here.