Mitchells Plain Diaries

This is a recipe for a Township on the Cape Flats:

1. Take one medium-sized residential zone.

2. Pre-heat to levels of Rage and Discontent, using a Past like Apartheid.

3. Grease the pan with a good measure of Hope by Changing Living Standards. If this is unavailable, Promising Change is a good substitute.

welcometomitchellsplain4. Combine the following: Continue reading “Mitchells Plain Diaries”

Books as a Mirror for Attitudes toward Mental Health

For Mental Health Awareness Month I wanted to make a list of books about mental health. I was done with a rough draft when I realised I didn’t like it: I hadn’t read that many YA about mental health and some pretty voracious readers are sure to post some fantastic lists.

What I do want to talk about is how YA portrays mental health issues, even when it isn’t necessarily focused on mental health.

mental health books Continue reading “Books as a Mirror for Attitudes toward Mental Health”

How to do a Mental State Evaluation

I’ve been rotating through psychiatry, and it’s both more challenging and more fun than last year. One thing I’m happy about is that I already know how to perform a Mental State Evaluation (MSE). I remember it was really daunting to learn, and I’m also hearing from my friends in the year below me that they are having the same problem.

The problem is that it’s hard to teach the MSE. Here are some of my tips, for med students doing MSEs the first time. I’m by no means an expert, but these pointers have helped me.

how to mse

Continue reading “How to do a Mental State Evaluation”

[Guest] Elective Extravaganza: Rural Psychiatry in Kimberley and Lobatse

Kopano N. Mokale has just completed his fourth year of medical school at a South African university. He did his fourth year elective in Rural Psychiatry, something I thought was very brave and super interesting. I trust you will enjoy his story. As always, let me know if you’d like to share your Elective story.

Stark white straitjackets, padded-cells and distant indistinguishable shouts and yelps…  murmurs and mumbles from deranged minds, far detached from space-time as we understand it…. men in white coats and unrealistically beautiful nurses with little “kappies” on their heads…  sorry  my friends, only in Hollywood.

elective extravaganza psych Continue reading “[Guest] Elective Extravaganza: Rural Psychiatry in Kimberley and Lobatse”

I said, eliminate the stigma..!

Studying for tests on Friday which will hopefully mean the end of Middle Clinical Rotations and herald the beginning of my Late Clinical Rotations, i.e. the final 17 months of medical school. One of the tests is psychiatry. 

I saw these two secrets on PostSecret that tugged at my heartstrings (metaphorically).

Continue reading “I said, eliminate the stigma..!”

5 Things You May Not Know About Psychiatry*

Maybe you’re well-read, and Sylvia Plath and Ken Kesey are your homies. And you watched Prozac Nation and Black Swan and A Beautiful Mind and you didn’t laugh at the protagonists or roll your eyes at their “crazy”. So even if you haven’t rotated through Psych – or maybe you’re not even remotely in the medical field – your Psych knowledge is right up there. You’re not ignorant. Here are some things about twenty-first century psychiatry that might surprise you. Continue reading “5 Things You May Not Know About Psychiatry*”

Follow Friday: On The Other Side Of The Desk

I started blogging as a way of debriefing myself and in the process discovered a whole world of medical blogging. I have found mentors and colleagues all over the world, but I have also met people from the “other side”. I have gotten to know –  by means of what they choose to share with the world – people who sit on the other side of the physician’s desk. They have imparted knowledge and understanding that medical school could not, no matter how hard it tried.

Here are five blogs/twitters of people who unwittingly became my teachers – in no particular order.


Continue reading “Follow Friday: On The Other Side Of The Desk”

Retina Burn [Trigger Warning]

I saw a woman jumping to her death.

She is a regular at medical emergency for suicide attempts or parasuicide (nobody seems to know). She always manages to run away before she is taken to the Psychiatry ward. Did you know that women are less often successful at suicide attempts than men? It is because they tend to go for “softer” methods.

Continue reading “Retina Burn [Trigger Warning]”