Wednesday, 16 January 2013

mental welfare commission phone lines

[This is going to be the first of a series of critical posts about the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland as I look to desconstruct what they appear to say they are doing and reconstruct it to say what they are actually doing.  Of course this is my opinion but it is also based on what other people have been saying to me over the last few years since I got involved in the mental health world.  Which is that the commission is not primarily about protecting the rights of vulnerable people.  Some folk describe it as a watchdog with no teeth.]

I am compelled to write first about the commission's phone lines, as one who has used them frequently over the last two years or more.  Especially when I have had a family member in a locked psychiatric ward, detained under the mental health act.  And needed the help of the commission to both listen to my concerns and protect the rights of my kin.

Their phone line isn't really there to help you so don't expect a relationship type of communication.  It's not about this.  Although I thought it was, being eternally optimistic in my outlook.  Or maybe I'm just ignorant.  I thought that human beings would be interested and even concerned about other human beings in pain.  But no.  In fact if you show any distress or emotion the phone is likely to be put down on you.

It doesn't have to be rudeness or aggression or cheek or slander.  It could just be assertiveness or questioning or anguish or puzzlement.  They don't respond to this or anything said with feeling.  And the out of hours phone line only has a 2 minute recording time so this will add to your stress.  I know this because in February 2012 I used it one Saturday evening after being bullied and intimidated by 5 psychiatric nurses in a locked ward.  

By the time I'd phoned back every 2 minutes for the 5th time, well I was physically and mentally exhausted.  And had to go visit a friend for compassion, a listening ear and a cup of tea.  I used this phone message line to tell my story, of being abused, but it didn't make me feel better.   Not sure if they listen to it all anyway, I've got no proof of that.  Who knows?  And by the time Monday came I'd got it sorted out anyway, having to contact other folk to do so. 

[Try Breathing Space for information out of hours or a listening ear.  I found them helpful in February 2012 for signposting on a Sunday.  They are open all weekend from 6pm on the Friday to 6am on the Monday.]

I had many other issues with the commission back in February and March of 2012.  And so got to know some of the staff personally.  We sat next to each other at national mental health events and meetings.  I thought that this meant we were building up a relationship.  Wrong.  For they are not about relationship.  It's taken a while for the penny to drop.  For I'm best at being in relationships with people.  It's what I do and have always done as a community development worker.

The last straw was the phone getting put down on me last week by an unknown man at the commission who I suspect was the same man who put the phone down on me in February last year.  Which I complained about at the time.   Expecting something to be done about it.  Silly me.  My complaints won't be listened to for I'm only a mother and a carer not a government person or anyone who matters.  So the phone line folk, or men, at the commission can put the phone down on me and not be accountable.

Great job if you can get it.  Mothers and grandmothers distressed on the phone and you don't have to be bothered listening to it.  Although I suppose if no-one listens to your pain, then you get depressed, well you may be forced to get ECT/shock treatment.  Or brain surgery.

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