Editorial Page March 2020
The mental health budget is dropping peer support. That decision betrays some basic facts. I know after 28 years as a chaplain and after founding the Befrienders (1966), patient visitors trained in story listening. The book by Chad Sarah, The Samaritans was a huge influence. They invited people with emotional distress to a church in London. Lay people served tea and conversation. Only half needed to see the professionals so the non professionals became part of the team. There is more evidence but space here is limited. Sir Roger Bannister, who broke the four minute mile and became a neurologist of the autonomic nervous system confirmed ln a visit that relationships have a neurological connection. In the medical journal. Lancet it reads, “The relationship the doctor has with the patient is equal to the treatment.” My translation. “The relationship the person has with another, is equal to the task.” Professionals and non professionals are both grounded in the narrative: stories. Medicine is relearning, it is called Narrative Medicine. The mental health professionals and the legislature need to learn the same for the recovery and continued health of our communities.