We support World Mental Health Day

There but for the grace of God…

A correspondent writes to us on Facebook from the other side of the world. He is unhappy that we include Wernicke’s encephalopathy within the umbrella of Alcohol Related Brain Damage. At the beginning of our sessions we always emphasise that we are not medics and that what we have to say has been gleaned from our experience of working with over a thousand people who have been diagnosed with an ARBD, most often, Wernicke’s Korsakoff’s syndrome. It is unusual that someone wants to debate the semantics of ARBD. To be honest, it is unusual for us to come across someone who knows what we are talking about for our constant refrain, our main concern, is that people who drink alcohol are not aware that it could result in permanent brain damage. If you don’t know the danger and how something is caused then you are not in a position to avoid it. We always emphasise that Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a vitamin deficiency and is associated with alcohol, although the illness can be the result of bulimia and gastric disorders.

So we welcome and support World Mental Health Day.

Many celebrities have now spoken out about their experience of mental health and they have opened a pathway to get people to talk about their problems. Talking is good. Alcohol carries the same stigma although it is part of the condition that heavy drinking tends to be hidden even from family members. An alcoholic in denial is not unusual. A person with Wernicke’s encephalopathy will display confusion, disorientation, loss of balance and nystagmus. For those who observe these symptoms it can be frightening. Most often the symptoms will be hidden under the guise of inebriation and, as is common with alcoholics, they are supreme at concealing the illness.

Korsakoff’s psychosis, permanent brain damage, is well known amongst the medical profession but is still deftly hidden from the general public. Many people who are affected by this illness will need the help of the local Mental Health Team. Our hope is that designated days like today will help to reduce the stigma and raise the awareness of the problems cause by Alcohol Related Brain Damage.