Shining lights for people diagnosed with Personality Disorder

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Clinical psychologist Dr Alex Stirzaker has helped launch the Shining Lights consensus statement for people with complex mental health difficulties who are diagnosied with a Personality Disorder.

Alex, who is editor of the document, presented at Westminster in January alongside co-chairs Sue Sibbald and Norman Lamb MP.

Supported by Alex, some of the people with lived experience who contributed to developing the consensus statement, took part in filming with the BBC.

Personality Disorder can be described as a long standing pattern of emotional and cognitive difficulties which interferes with many parts of a person's everyday life including relationships, work and social situations. Most people given this diagnosis have already experience traumatic lives and the ways in which they express themselves can be very challenging and difficult to understand, which can have an impact on their access to the right services.

Norman Lamb says, "This consensus statement is a call to action to stop the appalling treatment which people given a diagnosis of Personality Disorder too often experience… This report offers some important suggestions towards creating a significant cultural shift amongst services which offers optimism for the future for these people."

The document was developed over three years, overseen by a group including representatives from occupational therapy, social work, psychiatry, psychology, nursing and general practice alongside people with lived experience. The group engaged with a wide range of people via social media. Following extensive engagement, 25 people created the consensus statement, which offers creative ideas to help manage some of the consequences of being given a diagnosis of personality disorder.

Currently people given a diagnosis of Personality Disorder:
• have a life expectancy reduced by 19 years
• experience a suicide rate of 10 in every 100 people
• have inadequate experiences in publicly funded services
• do not consistently have access to evidence-based interventions

The Shining Lights consensus statement aims to help health, social care and other publicly funded services, and staff working in those services, to better understand and work with people with a diagnosis of Personality Disorder. The launch of the consensus statement will also help to raise awareness of Personality Disorder and how it affects people and impacts on their lives.

This recognition is an important turning point for people diagnosed with Personality Disorder: well done to Alex, the consensus statement group and all those with lived experience who contributed to the statement and have shared their experiences publicly.