So for me the mental health activism and engagement is no different from any other area of life. Except of course that I'm a survivor, of mental ill health and the psychiatric system. To do this I had to resist the labelling, drugging and lifelong mental illness prognosis. Which wasn't difficult because I never did believe in any of it, since being a youngster. I thought it a sham then and my opinion hasn't changed. I couldn't be true to myself by saying anything different.
Other countries in the UK and Ireland have critical voices in mental health so I'm wondering why it's so frowned upon or not accepted here in my home country? It's concerning. That's not to say there aren't critical voices here but I think they keep under the radar, for fear of reprisal or that it may affect their livelihood. I know what that's like, the backstabbing, badmouthing and attempts to exclude. It's been interesting, that's for sure. But I won't be letting it divert me.
I have to speak out because it's what I've always done, and I'm too old to change my ways now. And I find myself up to my neck in mental health matters with over 40yrs experience of psychiatric system engagement. Experience that comes in useful, in terms of taking back the power, personally. It can also help others, as in peer support and demonstrating what is possible when a person has a voice. By example.
A colleague the other day at a meeting spoke about 'emotional intelligence'. It's not a phrase I was familiar with so I googled it and came up with this list of attributes, described by Daniel Goleman in 'What makes a leader' (Harvard Business Review, January 2004):
- self awareness
- social skills