Reflections from London, Psychosis: Why Relationships Matter

We were delighted to host an afternoon seminar on 26th April 2024 at London South Bank University, bringing together professionals, carers/family members and those with lived experience of ‘psychosis’.

The event was opened and hosted by Dr Simon Downer (ISPS UK Trustee) who set the scene.

“Relationships can be terrifying as well as wonderful, lasting an hour or a lifetime.”

“In mental health we need to connect to the whole person – including their pain.”

“But in mental health systems we often embed structures of control, not of connection.”

The first talk by Professor John Read on “How Diagnoses Keep People Apart” introduced the latest research findings on how diagnoses stigmatise those labelled with ‘psychosis’.

“Schizophrenia becomes a word that filters everything you do… every behaviour, feeling etc, is seen through this lens.”

“Often a person has to get up the courage to tell someone about difficult things which they have experienced – which is then dismissed as a symptom of a disorder.”

“The biggest predictor for a young person of whether ‘odd ideas’ develop into what we might call ‘psychosis’ is having one single friend.”

Continuing on, Dr Jacqui Dillon’s (ISPS UK Chair) talk on “First Do No Harm – Iatrogenic Harm in Mental Health” passionately discussed the harm which some clinical practices can cause, and how this can lead to long term damages in all areas of an individual’s life.

“The language of diagnosis and disorder impacts the way that we think about people & leads to oppressive & coercive practice. Reactions to abuse are often reframed as symptoms of mental illness.”

“Once you’ve been subject to diagnoses the clinical gaze follows you everywhere.”

“It’s important for professionals to bear witness to harm others in the ‘system’ have caused – they might not have personally caused harm but represent the system which did.”

The final talk was by Lisa Archibald (Co-Director of Intentional Peer Support) titled “Intentional Peer Support – A relational approach to experiences that might get labelled as ‘psychosis’”.

“Intentional Peer Support creates a learning community drawing on experiential wisdom from lived experience where everyone has something to offer.”

“We help people to avoid power dynamics of helper vs recipient and move to a shared relationship where we think more about our own purpose in a relationship.”

“Relationships can be a different way of seeing experiences we don’t understand.”

“Not everyone has a friend who is willing to listen to how experience has been for them. Some of the deepest love and care have been felt in peer support groups.”

Following the talks we enjoyed a rich, powerful and authentic conversation where all attendees were able to discuss their experiences, which flowed on into the ISPS UK Annual General Meeting where we shared our work over the past year and sought feedback on where the organisation can go next.

The afternoon was a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with our members and non-members alike, discuss how we can better collaborate, share some of the latest research and approaches, and delve into why social approaches to psychosis are so crucial.

“It was a supportive, encouraging and good space.”

“I’m inspired and fired up to change it all.”

Presentation slides are available for members who couldn’t make this event.


  1. That sounds really good,,relationships having as regards help support at present one mental health person that has really not been a therapeutic relationship rather actually caused distress,,but am lucky a different person long term a very different experience,, and it is really good to hear of other ways more compassionate accepting helpful ways,, and yes the psychologist that I see has heard of Jaqui Dillon’s new paradigms a lot of mental health nurses applying learned skills it was fifteen years ago I was in a hospital far from my children here in Ireland and the counsellor I had been attending rang and said Sarah your going to be okay I was at a talk today in cork absolutely amazing two speakers Eleanor longdon jaqui dillon reading the book living with voices has kept me I think possibly not completely lost in the system sometimes have but knowing there have been major new alternative better ways of knowing not just a diagnosis

  2. I’m so sorry I missed this. Where will I find similar for the future? I’m a parent carer.

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