Monday, August 18, 2008

Dear Fellow Bloggers...........

I have been deeply touched by the comments left by fellow bloggers on my post about my sister last week. Thanks so much to all of you, mental illness can leave the families as well as the sufferers feeling isolated and misunderstood and you have so encouraged me.

As someone who occasionally "shouts the odds" about all sorts of things, this is something I feel I have not shouted about enough. There are excellent campaigning organisations out there such as Mind, Young Minds, The Mental Health Foundation and others. But their campaigns so often fall on deaf ears. It takes a tragedy for the media to even make a passing reference to mental health care so what hope to put this issue any higher up the political agenda? The irony is that the cost of continuing to relegate mental health to the bottom of the political agenda is a cost to us all. A financial cost (for example 90% of prisoners have mental health problems) but more importantly a human cost.

At the moment I am not really in a good state to think through what we could be doing (ask my work colleagues whether I have listened to a word they said today!), but I am serious about doing something, however small, to change things. First step is a Facebook Group, second step may be a little more radical.......ideas on a postcard (or an email) please.......


Disillusioned said...

not sure the agencies you cite would be viewed by all with mental illness as campaigning on their behalf or on the right issues or in the right way. I think a lot of the change has to come from each of us on an individual basis - admitting to our own experiences and those of others close to us, and being prepared to stand by those for whom things are difficult. And occasionally to be "bloody awkward" in fighting the authorities and standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
How can it be, for example, that a mental health trust can refuse a psychotherapy assessment because the waiting list for psychotherapy is too long? The government states proudly that access to psychotherapy will be improved, but too slow, too late is all I can say.

I'd encourage people to read the minutes of their local mental health trust critically - then email / write to the trust chairs with queries and concerns. Even better, attend the trust board meetings and find out what is really going on - how little concern there is for "service users" and how much for hitting targets, saving money and covering their backs.

Oh yes, I'm bitter....

Linda Jack said...

Dear Disillusioned, I know you are right, which is why I think we need to rethink how we campaign. Thanks for your input, will see if we get enough interest to organise a meeting.


Calum said...

Hi Linda

There are many of us who suffer, or have family who suffer, appallingly at the "hands" of the Mental Mealth Services and who are fighting in our own individual ways. There are, as yet, no high-profile campaigns as far as I can see whose main aim is to fight injustice and for better services.

Rather than helping, in many cases, prejudice and incompetence within the NHS make suffering much worse.

I have ownership of a web address that I had hoped would be the vehicle for me to fight for those who, like Mrs Carr, have been badly served by Mental Health Services []. There's nothing on the site at the moment but it is available.

I have taken a break in writing this to read your post about your sister. Appalling and terrible for your sister and her family but not surprising unfortunately.

We have gone public and had an article in our local paper but, unsurprisingly, there has been no positive effect.

You can visit my blog here.

I am up for a fight.

Also fighting for her case is Deb Acle here.

Good luck.

Deb Acle (aka Barely human now) said...

Hello Linda

I just read about your sister and the ordeal that afflicts you all. My heart goes out to you all.

The obscene reality is that mental health is one of those PC things to make the right noises about but few do anything to actually improve services. And, my experience of CMHT is that of entering a world that is completely loopy and maybe even sociopathic. I mean the team itself - their patients were probably quite sane under the circumstances. Made me feel glad that I only have common or garden depression, agoraphobia and PTSD. (Which, needless to say, they refuse to treat).

You may care to read my article over at NHS 'Camouflage Culture'
Lots of facts/figures there.

I'm certainly up for joining an online campaigning group - or helping to organise/write/do graphics/whatever helps. Count me in, guys!

Meanwhile, I agree with 'disillusioned'. In fact I'll go further: my experience with MIND particularly over the last year has been extremely disappointing and very distressing. They've done more damage than anything else. (Facts freely available on request).

My opinion is that these 'patient'-led orgs get far too big and far too far into gvt pockets...with their CEOs always angling for honours etc. so they never stick their necks out.

Listen, I so hope your sister is feeling a little better now.. . I don't know if it'll mean anything to her, but I wonder if you could find a way to tell her that she (and you, her family) are not alone, we're all out here in the same boat (you know, the one the NHS pulled the plug out of...) - and we feel for you.


PS Calum - thank you for the kind mention! I wouldn't have found Lindy's blog without that.

Linda Jack said...

Glad to hear from you Deb and thanks Calum. I have a lot of reading to do, which I will embark on as soon as I can. I am away for a few days, but when I am back will try and organise a couple of get togethers in London and Bedfordshire. I note that we have a motion on mental health at Lib Dem conference (included in the conference guide on the website) would be interested in your views as I will probably try and submit some amendments.