right care is key

PETER Mackie, from Sighthill, knows only too well how important it is for mental health issues in young people to be handled well.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 2nd September 2011, 4:08 pm

He has just released an anthology of poems written as a teenager in the 1970s, when he spent two years in an adolescent unit of a psychiatric hospital.

“People seem to have realised that it’s not good to keep young people in institutions for a long period of time,” the 54-year-old explains.

“When I was younger, people were just put in places, but thankfully that has improved.

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“I think there is still a long way to go though and I support the 1000 Voices Campaign for that reason.”

Poems of Youth and Turbulence, Peter’s anthology, reflects the sadness and aspirations he felt as a teenager having been compulsorily detained in a psychiatric unit.

A keen mathematician with an interest in unusual music and astronomy, Peter says he didn’t fit in at school or at home and his parents eventually took him to a psychiatric hospital when he was just 12.

“My parents just seemed to want me out of the way because I was different,” he says.

The experience haunted Peter for the rest of his life, resulting in failed suicide attempts, a disrupted education, and sexual abuse by an older man when he fled Scotland to live in England.

His dreams of becoming a maths teacher were forever shattered and he ended up selling The Big Issue in George Street.

Peter has lived in permanent accommodation for several years now, but believes the bad handling of his situation in his early teenage years has had an irreversible impact on his life.

“I think the things that happened to me probably wouldn’t have had I not been admitted to hospital,” he says.

n Poems of Youth and Turbulence is published by Chipmunkapublishing.com, the mental health publisher, and is priced £10.