Posts by Dr Robyn Hewland Q.S.M.

  • Speaker: The Shaken Generation,

    Robyn Hewland
    10:28 AM

    From: Robyn Hewland (
    Sent: Tuesday, 16 February 2016 10:28:56 AM
    To: RadioNZ (
    As in my text to RNZ at 6am today, as effects of quakes affect physical changes in brain circuits and body , could you provide on air a health info session re it, eg from Dr Richie Pointon, Govt Advisor (at Otago Univ)? Also, ask him re NEURO-SCIENCE updates re nature & nurture, and how early negative risks could be modified by others.

    TRAUMA and stress raises BLOOD CORTISOL levels, which will stay up if not addressed and poor sleep and exercise, which will reduce immunity to illness and cancer, reduce coping skills, at work, in parenting, and increase domestic violence, substance abuse, violence and crime.
    Reports on RNZ today from Christchurch teachers, Counsellors, Police, Salvation Army, etc, described some of these effects.
    Repeated trauma in childhood (eg sexual abuse, quakes), without specialist psychotherapy, can lead to physical changes in brain structures and circuits and to PTSD. PTSD has a 50% co-morbid depression risk, with impaired concentration, cognition, energy. Any overwhelming anxiety and fear can trigger biochemical changes to trigger psychotic episodes (schizophrenia, melancholia).
    More will need Invalid Benefits if unable to work with triggered PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc.

    PRISON & Police calls re MENTAL HEALTH -
    About 60-70% of inmates have a diagnosed mental illness or brain injury history.
    Neuro-science shows substance abuse and all addictions have brain-circuit mental illness changes and are a Health issue, not a moral problem nor to be punished.
    Judges called for Mental Health COURTS, to reduce prison revolving doors with no treatments (medications, therapy).
    One Judge referred to today's prisons as had replaced 19 Century Mental Illness Asylums. Queensland in Australia has a separate MENTAL HEALTH COURT and specific Forensic Mental Health Act TRIBUNAL processes.(I was a past member of Mental Health Tribunal in NZ, and, Qld)

    When was Visiting Consultant Psychiatrist to ChCh Prisons (Remand, Paparua) in 1977-92,and to Probation (1 hr/week), about 4 hours a week at Paparua, plus emergency call-outs to Addington Remand (av 1-2/week), I, with assistance by discussions with senior staff, led to NO SUICIDES in those prisons during my 15 years (except one when I was on leave).
    I used post-graduate training in psychotherapy to form therapeutic relationships, connections and assist changes. I started a group in Protection Wing for sex offenders, then 50 of them signed for a special Prison Unit, and then Sir Geoffrey Palmer agreed to establish Kia Marama.

    As Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at Sunnyside Hospital (now Hillmorton), I arranged to be called to Police Watch House within 24 hours, to discuss with staff and assess those after a serious charge (murder, manslaughter) or with behaviour of serious concerns.

    With ACC, I saw over 1000 re sexual abused, in therapy, supervision of counsellors, and report to ACC re compensation.

    As Consultant (part-time) to Dept Social Welfare's Child, Youth & Families, I was referred to by Senior Social Workers from Offices, KIngslea Girls Home, Boys Home, Youth Justice, Child Protection, Family Group Conferences, Family Court.

    I and my colleagues from then, are CONCERNED re LOSS of so many services then that were effective, and increased VIOLENCE now, and, the need for free supportive PARENTING EDUCATION for all from antenatal, with incentives to attend, with and for future children.
    "We all do the best we know how at the time". "Society gets the children and adults it deserves" (my quotes from 1975+).

    Dr Robyn Hewland QSM
    (a past President of NZ Assoc Psychotherapists, &, of NZ Medical Women's Assoc)

    Christchurch NZ • Since Feb 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Shaken Generation,

    To add to info to discuss - Sir Michael Rutter, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, who was at Maudsley Hospital in London, decades ago, wrote a book "Resilience in Adversity". From his longitudinal research, he noted that resilience needed at least two experiences- (1)- when started primary school, felt unconditionally loved by at least one person, and so knew and remembered was/ is LOVABLE, and, (2) when left Secondary School, had achieved OK in at least one area- eg academic, sport, arts, music, leadership, and so when under stress again, knew that had and so could HOPE and PERSIST to do so again.- more research since, any changes, and updates?

    Christchurch NZ • Since Feb 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply