Thursday, 20 December 2012

free speech? not in Scotland's mental health world

Yesterday I received an abusive Email from a VoX board member while other board members stood by and watched.  It's happened before.  This time the man, egged on by another man, spoke about my "ineptitude", said my involvement was "out and out hatred and open warfare", my arguments "unfair, unfounded and are injuring other service users", spoke about my "sad lonely utterances" and that I was doing "the devils work".

Finally he called me a bully and advised me to "SHUT UP! Go to bed".  

I refuted these allegations and forwarded the Email to people in government, to demonstrate what the outcome is for anyone with a critical voice in the mental health world here, in Scotland.  And what their funding is supporting.  Where the oppressed have become the oppressors and it's Animal Farm all over again.

I'm going to unpack this situation and try to make sense of it.  I think it's important, not least because there is a move afoot in Scotland to become independent, politically, and this is concerning for anyone in the mental health world or psychiatric system here.  If we're not free now to speak out then what will it be like in the future?  The threat to democracy and free speech, masquerading as independence.

I've seen a deterioration in the quality of psychiatric services over the last 15yrs, as resources have been transferred into the community.  At the same time the support on discharge is practically non existent, apart from clinical meetings to determine psychiatric drugging levels and control mechanisms.  Therapeutic input is minimal and I'm told it's because the services are focused on GP practises and community treatment.

Therefore the people in mental distress requiring intensive support or respite are at the top of the pyramid where there is less choice and more compulsion.  Take the drugs or else.  Conform or be detained.  In fact just like the way I am being treated by the VoX brethren.  An arm of the government. And it's just not good enough.  For we need critical voices to bring balance and reason to the table.  So that human rights abuses can be voiced and injustices heard.  Otherwise we will be in a totalitarian state of being.

So I say to the VoX brethren, it's time for you to listen to and respect the critical voices among you.  Don't be an arm of the government.  It's not worth it and you can do better than this.  Make room for those of us who are not afraid to speak out and challenge the abuses in the psychiatric system.  Give us our place at the table.  Support us in our fight against the use of force in mental health treatment.  He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

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