25 June 2024

Abertay University hosts national event with aim of improving treatment approaches

Scottish Personality Disorder Network Conference aims to tackle stigma

People diagnosed with personality disorders can be left feeling ‘neglected from all angles’, an Abertay University academic has warned ahead of a national conference.

The Scottish Personality Disorder Network Conference will be hosted at Abertay University, Dundee on Wednesday 26 June, attended by a broad group of around 150 stakeholders including mental health professionals, carers, people with diagnoses and their families and representatives from health boards and the Scottish Government.

Twelve speakers will present at the conference, which aims to raise awareness of personality disorders, while also tackling stigma and social exclusion and improving access to and experience of services.

One of the conference chairs is Dan Warrender, a lecturer on Abertay’s BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing programme.

Drawing on the findings of interviews and analysis conducted as part of his PhD research, he said there is currently an enormous stigma around personality disorders in Scotland.

“People often describe not being treated as human beings and feeling discrimination, sometimes even from professionals,” Dan said.
“People can also be left feeling invalidated and neglected by the various services they might interact with due to perceptions that they don’t have a genuine mental illness, or perhaps that they have been deemed too ill or unstable to receive therapy. There are examples of a system of care which is full of confusion and anxiety. Some professionals are incredibly worried about patients’ wellbeing, but also their own reputations with a fear of being blamed when it comes to risk of suicide. Confusion also reigns when a person seeks help, with some people involved with the police, but refused admission by mental health services, with the family home becoming a de-facto mental health unit with parents sleeping with the house keys underneath their pillow. When people are in crisis they may encounter any number of agencies and services, yet there may not be one that seems to be the best fit, and people can be left feeling neglected from all angles.”

Personality disorders are complex and controversial psychiatric diagnoses which typically include a person having difficulties with ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, impacting on their own ‘sense of self’ and their interactions with other people. 

With significant disagreement remaining around the validity of a diagnosis, and limited evidence for crisis support, the Scottish Personality Disorder Network Conference will provide an important forum for discussion, sharing of learning and a platform to build on national recommendations and models for treatment.

Dan said: “The term ‘personality disorder’ itself is problematic and can be perceived as insulting and harmful to self-esteem. A person's crisis isn’t any one thing - it is an overwhelming experience, unique to each individual, with unique triggers which lead to unique responses.  When people come to the attention of mental health services, it is often due to attempted suicide and self-harm. There’s a real need to take a holistic overview of how we assess and support people and bringing stakeholders from all sides of the conversation to this conference is an excellent opportunity to identify what’s being done well, what’s being done less well, and how we can build on this and enhance support.”

For more information on the Scottish Personality Disorder Network visit the SPDN website.


Share This

Pause carousel

Play carousel