Archive for November, 2006

A Rosie view of advocacy…

November 28, 2006

On Saturday morning I was so pre-occupied with the recent news that the ‘right to advocacy’ committment has disappeared from the Mental Health Bill published on 17th November, that it was a couple of  minutes before I realised that my struggles to find the sleeves in my bath towel were never going to be successful.    Have you seen the text of the speech given by Rosie Winterton, Minister of State for Health Services, at the Sainsbury Conference Centre earlier this year?                                                                                                                                        
                         images.jpg                                                                          winterton-2.jpg
                                          two pics of Rosie Winterton 

 The following is an extract from it:  “We remain committed to modernising mental health services to provide patients with quick, easy access to high quality services and effective treatment and care, and to give people a say in the treatment and a say in the care they receive. And if that is to mean anything, we need effective advocacy.I have already paid tribute to the work done over many years by voluntary and other advocacy services and groups.  The importance of their contribution has been considerable.  We believe that it is now time to build on their work and contribution, and to develop advocacy services that better meet the demands and challenges of 21st century.We know that some vulnerable people can feel overwhelmed by statutory services. People can even feel intimidated and do not know where to start to engage with services. And, of course, it is often when we are unwell that we find it hardest to explain what we need. Many service providers understand this all too well and advocates have an invaluable role to play in all of this.Advocacy is a way of making sure that the voices of those people most in need are heard,  thereby enabling  everyone  to access the services and support to which they are entitled. It means taking action to help people say what they want, to secure their rights, to represent their interests and obtain the services that best meet their needs. If people can’t do that, in this area in particular, it can have an impact on recovery.”

High talk, as they say in Arizona, and then when the Mental Health Bill was published on 17/11/06, we read that the right to advocacy commitment had been dropped from the bIll.   So what happened to the sensitivity and understanding being shown earlier in the year ?   Didn’t the following quotes mean anything real?

“And if that is to mean anything, we need effective advocacy.” 

“Advocacy is a way of making sure that the voices of those people most in need are heard”

……….”If people can’t do that, in this area in particular, it can have an impact on recovery.

Fine talk, as they say in Texas, but how do you understand it?   


Gwent Clinical Futures Programme

November 21, 2006

Information from the Gwent NHS Trust posters which are circulating:

 Your Health Services are changing, with a network of modern hospitals being planned to bring healthcare closer than ever to you home. 

Take the opportunity to see the plans and have your say at the public roadshow near you:                    Caldicot Choir Hall,  6pm,  Tuesday 28th November.

If you can manage the time, it would be useful to go along and hear what is planned.

Bullying in the workplace – continued.

November 20, 2006

The post on Bullying in the Workplace has resulted in interest and questions.  I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that some of the readers making contact are not prepared to write openly.  The most asked question, of course, is ‘Why’?   There is no one answer – people behave differently for different reasons – and so do bullies.   The following extracts – 1 & 2 are provided by D. Gray, Equal Opportunities Manager, James Cook University.  They may help to answer some of the questions, and in the Australian manner, are very direct.  I think that you will find something to help your understanding here.

1.  “Why Bully?Recent research indicates that bullying has two main causes:

 *       The bully has difficulty with social skills, is unable to make friends easily, and thus does not know better ways to relate to others

*       Bullying is used to enhance self-concept – Self-concept is the way you feel about yourself. Well-balanced people enhance the way they feel about themselves through their achievements, activities and occupations.

Bullies, however, have a distorted sense of how to increase their self-concept, and so engage in anti-social activities. Bullying makes them feel good about themselves and, mistakenly, they believe that engaging in it will make other people see them as powerful. Surveys also show: that about 80% of people express contempt for bullying, but that people who have been identified as bullies believe that their bullying behaviour causes them to be perceived as admirable.” 

2.  “Why do I tolerate being bullied?  The effects of harassment and bullying are subjective and individual – people have different levels of tolerance.  Self-blame:   For some people, loss of self-confidence and low self-esteem, coupled with repeated denigration and comments about inadequate work performance (without appropriate coaching and support to try to remedy the situation) may lead to a conviction that they are deserving of the treatment – that the bullying is “their own fault”.  Fear: Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and of insecurity, threat or fear of losing their job and not easily finding another, perhaps combined with family/financial responsibilities, may lead to a sense of being trapped.  Habit:  Upbringing and cultural influences may also play a part. Some people have been strongly influenced by an environment which requires young people to respect their elders, or people who hold positions of authority.  Gender perceptions: Many cultures perpetuate low expectations of women’s place in society. In some cultures, it is unacceptable for women to seek help outside the cultural group, or even the family, yet the group or family offer no support. Some men operate in a destructive environment where the seeking of assistance is a sign of weakness and inadequacy.  Apathy:  In terms of management, some bullies are extremely competent in the core functions of their jobs, and management, instead of assisting them to round themselves as competent also in dealing with their staff or co-workers, prefers to take the easy and apathetic route of ignoring the inappropriate behaviour. Bullies continue to be rewarded for managerial ruthlessness in the interests of market survival, consumer satisfaction, and administrative convenience and apathy.  Incompetence:  Some managers are themselves incompetent in the personal interaction side of their supervisory role, and have no idea how to deal with bullies. This may be coupled with a mistaken idea that staff management is not part of one’s “real job”, and that it is “a waste of time”  The responsibility for setting appropriate standards of behaviour rests with the management and supervisors and is demonstrated by: *       their personal leadership in ensuring professional standards of conduct

 *       modelling behaviour and monitoring activity

 *       dealing promptly and thoroughly with incidents in accordance with the relevant grievance procedures

 *       ensuring that complaints do not result in reprisals to, or victimisation of, the complainant. 

Acknowledged with thanks to: D Gray, Manager, Equal Opportunity 2003, James
Cook University   
May be reproduced with acknowledgement   James Cook University is Australia’s leading Tropical Research University, with its main sites in Queensland.  What Mr Gray does not deal with here, and I would not expect him to, is the effect on the mental health of the victims of bullying.   That information you can find on the links I have provided on the main page. oberon92                             

Blog Presentation

November 20, 2006

Those of you who visit regularly will have noticed that over the last few days I have been trying out different main page presentations.   This is to see whether different presentations make the blog easier to navigate, and also to read.   If you have any comment to make about the different styles that you have noticed, please e-mail me:


Singing from the same Hymnsheet?

November 16, 2006

The Report on the Pan-Gwent Mental Health Service User Involvement event – held in Newport on 20th July 2006 – is now available to anyone who attended, or who would like to read the findings and summary.   Reports on the Workshops, involving delegates from Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen are included as are summaries of the Presentations.   If you would like an electronic or paper copy please e-mail: – who will be pleased to send you one. 

Bullying in the Workplace

November 14, 2006


Over the weekend I was thinking about Bullying in the Workplace – I’d  been reading the ban bullying at work website maintained by the Andrea Adams Trust and, of course, November 7th was the Ban Bullying National Day in the UK.   If you want to have a look then the link is:

What is it about bullying that attracts a surprising number of older adults?  During the process of growing up many of us will have bad memories of bully classmates in primary and secondary schools.   Fortunately people separate and move on, and on reflection and with increased knowledge gained as adults, we have some understanding of why children behave like that.  And then it happens again, in our workplace, but now the bully is an adult and so are we.  This time there should be no room for the common excuse of having had ‘a difficult childhood’.   Sadly, large numbers of people have had ‘difficult childhoods’ – but don’t go on to bully or abuse others, so re-creating their own suffering.  

Over the past few months I’ve been spoken to on several occasions by adults who are clearly being bullied in their workplace, and who are being seriously emotionally destabilised by the experience.   Surprisingly, they don’t always realise that they are victims of bullying, and sometimes excuse their tormentors by suggesting that ‘I probably deserved a roasting’, or that the bully is ‘probably having a difficult day too’.   This practise of self blame and unjustified ‘understanding’ simply feeds the trauma, (because if allowed to continue unchecked it will become a trauma), and goes on to negatively affect the victim’s relationships with partners, children, close friends, their social interaction with others, and particularly their self esteem and confidence.   Depression and loss of interest in their job will follow and there will be negative changes in the family interaction as tension and irritability and the sense of worthlessness increase.   The victim and their close relatives are not the only ones to suffer; the victim’s employer will lose working hours through loss of motivation, sickness and absence, and may well end up losing a previously valuable employee.   Uncontrolled workplace bullying will quickly become a mental health issue.

So, back to the question ‘What is it about bullying that attracts a surprising number of older adults’?  There is more than one answer to this question, but I believe that misuse of a power relationship appears to be the root cause of the situations explained to me.   Some individuals love power; they feed on it and will even create difficulties in the workplace so that they can exercise it and feel good.  It’s not difficult to do this.   Power, negative power, can be achieved through inappropriate use of an appraisal process and/or  supervision; through breaching confidentiality; by ‘discovering’ a previously ignored working practise and identifying it as poor or unacceptable, and by making use of rumour and  casual innuendo – often to senior and influential people. This can affect the likelihood of the victim being recommended for promotion or re-grading.   It also happens through open criticism of an individual and their work in front of colleagues, and public correction in front of staff for whom the individual is responsible.   Sometimes it is justified as being ‘firm management’ and necessary for the development of the employee; or ‘tightening up on working practise’ – but only in relation to a particular employee.   In fact, its’ usually bullying, harassment and ridicule.   Often there are witnesses to what takes place – so why is it so hard for the victim to deal with?  Well, just how does the victim deal with a bully who may also be their line manager, or a director of their organisation, or a senior colleague who has responsibility for monitoring and reporting on their progress?   If the bully is the line manager, then it may be possible to go to that person’s manager – but then that may show up deficiencies in the supervision and observations of the manager’s manager!   The senior manager is not going to want to highlight that.   If you work in a small organisation, then you would have to go to the Management Board, or Trustees.   Now, that’s difficult.   And if the bullying experience has caused you stress and depression and to be absent from work, then your efforts to put an end to it will be seriously weakened.   It’s the story of the chicken and the egg.    What you claim to be a bullying experience leading to stress and anxiety may be explained away as ‘the firm management’of an employee whose work was deteriorating and inadequate.   Your increased use of sick leave because of stress or depression may well be used to justify your manager’s description of you as inadequate, and lead to ‘concerned’ questions (and innuendo) in front of your colleagues as to your current state of health.   If your absence had been caused by a physical injury or illness then your return to work would probably attract a welcome and hopes that you have not returned to work too quickly.   If caused by depression or stress it would probably attract – well, what might it attract??   Don’t despair – there is help available.   Have a look at the following links.   Also, join a Union – like today.   Said to be the world’s largest resource on workplace bullying – the Field Foundation.   UK Government resource – sensible and sound.   Just Fight On.   Loads of resources.  Good support and advice.  and this offers good support too.

So, this is my view on workplace bullying.   Use the links above, and remember that there are many more sources of support and advice on the internet.   If you feel powerless and not inclined to do anything about your situation, then think that these feelings are likely to be a result of the bullying process.   Become active on your own behalf and find out what you can do to end the misery.    Then, write –anonymously if you want – to SpeakEasy in Mons with your own story, comments and advice.   Address your e-mail to and let SpeakEasy in
share your thinking with others. 

Gwent Eating Disorders Carers Support Group

November 14, 2006

Gwent Eating Disorders Carers Support Group meet at Ty Bryn, St Cadocs, Caerleon.  Details of meetings, which provide much needed support for carers, can be obtained from or phone 01633 436831   If you need support then e-mail or ‘phone to find out the date of the next meeting.

Disability Hate Crime

November 9, 2006

Disability Hate Crime is very much in the news at present – but is always there regardless of media trends.   The Crown Prosecution Service is launching a public consultation about how Disability Hate Crime is prosecuted in this country.   If you have a view about this, or possibly knowledge of other people’s experiences, then it would be good if you could make a response to the consultation.   If you would like a clearer idea of what is happening, please click on this link to the CPS website, which will provide you with more details.

 If you don’t feel that you want to reply to the website, but have views you want to express to someone, then send them to  who will be able to include them in the response from the National Aids Trust.   

Many people, with a wide range of disability, including mental ill health and dual diagnosis, have experience of incidents which were difficult to prove – and wish it could be otherwise.   Well, this is an opportunity to say what you think t


An apology – and a comment.

November 7, 2006

Sorry that I have not updated for a while – and I will try to be more consistent about this over the coming weeks.   There is a lot going on around mental health in Monmouthshire and this has also needed attention.   The Network and Forum meeting held at Usk on 18th October was particularly well attended, with representatives from all the drop-ins in the County.   Although Mike Collins, Borough Manager, was unable to attend as hoped, he was represented by Julie Boothroyd and Terry Williams.   The discussion concerning Integrated Services, the development of the Project Board, and involvement of people receiving services was interesting and informative.   At the same time the discussion about the development of Assertive Outreach, and whether the funding for this is ‘new’ money or a recycling operation, was lively and questioning.   It is an important issue, coming as it does at a time when the Welsh Assembly Government says that it is spending additional money on mental health, and the NHS Trust is saying that there can be no expenditure on development, or new appointments.   People who need a range of mental health services are finding essential supports such as counselling, at a standstill, and others apparently being reduced yet again.   There has to be clarification about all of this – ‘Singing from the same Hymn Sheet?’ comes to mind.  

The notes of this meeting will soon be circulating in the form of a newsletter so that those without access to the internet can be kept informed.