Visiting The Retreat
I visited The Retreat in York today to meet the staff and patients. The Retreat is a not-for-profit specialist mental health care provider based on Heslington Road, which works with the NHS and has been treating people with respect and dignity since 1796.
I saw the facilities and talked to patients and staff about their experiences of mental health services and treatment. I also took part in a Question and Answer session which included questions on the perception of mental health problems in the community and what can be done to raise awareness of mental health issues, as well as how government policies can influence and help promote public awareness.
The Retreat recognises that people with mental health problems can be discriminated against and people who have had or are still suffering mental health problems should be encouraged to play a big part in our society. Recently Les Popely, the Activity Coordinator, organised an art exhibition at the Guildhall exhibiting work done solely by people with mental health problems or those who had experienced problems in the past.
The Retreat has a worldwide reputation. From the day it opened, over 200 years ago, it recognised mental illness was not an incurable illness but something from which people could recover. This was a revolutionary idea at the time and the influence of the care provided by the Retreat led to successive governments reforming the laws relating to mental illness and its treatment.
Patients today are still treated with sympathy, respect and dignity at the Retreat but outside that safe environment many people are still facing discrimination. More needs to be done to help people understand the issues facing people with mental health problems.