e-connect August 2020

Welcome to e-connect, our monthly Trust e-bulletin with the intention of helping to keep you connected with us, update you on the service improvements we are making and share the work we are doing to improve access to our services across the county.

Publication date:
28 August 2020
Date range:
August 2020 - Ongoing

Complex Emotional Difficulties – seeing the person behind the diagnosis

People with a personality disorder, just like anyone who has mental health difficulties, can be stigmatised because of their diagnosis. This can attract fear, anger and disapproval rather than compassion, support and understanding, often impacting on the person and causing their condition to spiral.

Clinical lead for the Complex Emotional Difficulties Pathway, Dr James Osborne said: “Personality Disorder is still seen by some as a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning they often feel unsupported and with purely a label.

In January of this year, the Trust held a workshop entitled Inspiring Change and Transforming Attitudes, facilitated by The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, which brought together more than 150 people for one day to discuss these aspects of the Clinical Care Pathway including language used around personality disorder and its treatment.

James explained: “We wanted a workshop-style forum where all interested people including service users, carers, clinicians, and commissioners, could talk openly about their experiences of the use of the term personality disorder and consider the naming of the pathway among many other things.

“What became very apparent during the workshop was that people broadly fell into two categories – those who wanted to change the pathway’s name and try to move away from the stigma of the diagnosis, and those who were happy with sticking with calling it the Personality Disorder Pathway as it clearly linked it to a recognised diagnosis.

“After discussion and debate we were left with several key phrases including complex trauma, trauma related difficulties, complex emotional difficulties, complex needs and through this, what became quite clear was that people didn’t like the term ‘disorder’. However, no one clear name emerged as preferred over and above every other suggestion.”

Dr Osborne added: “Really, if I am honest, the conversation throughout the workshop became less about whether a change of name was the right thing to do and more about whether that name change would help serve as a catalyst for a change in attitude, something I hear over and over again. On balance, this seemed a good enough reason to change the name and work has now begun to embed the new name of the pathway.”

James added: “Our work is only just beginning. My hope from this name change across the organisation is that it prompts discussion and begins a new narrative focused on the person behind the label.

Click here to read more about complex emotional difficulties