The experience of severe psychological distress is one which can come to people at any stage in their lives. It can affect people of all classes and ethnic groups. However, we cannot assume that either the issues around which different users of mental health services might wish to organise, or the processes through which they might become empowered will be the same. There are many ways of looking at this. For example, different forms of distress affect people in different ways. For some the experience of psychological distress will be of extreme depression, isolation and lethargy. Others, or the same people at other times, might experience rushes of energy which cause them to engage in constant activity and movement. Others may hear voices which act as a benign or antagonistic influence on them. The interest and ability to act to represent individual or collective interests may vary throughout the life of someone living with severe psychological distress, as will the mechanisms through which they can become empowered.
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