Archive for January, 2007

Stigma and Discrimination

January 31, 2007

A few weeks ago I wrote that I would be starting to gather information and comment on the Stigma issue which affects the lives of so many people with mental ill health.    The subject of mental ill health is one which attracts mythology, untruth, supposition, misunderstanding, mistrust – and most “mis -somethings” that you can think of.     Of course, fear, embarrassment, denial, exclusion, are all high in the stigma ratings, and is has disturbed me to hear people say sadly that the place where they feel they have experienced greatest stigma, and stigma which really gets to them, is in their own families.   Workplace stigma, loss of peer group friends for young people, community bullying, and unacceptable descriptive words are all part of the experience of those struggling with mental ill health, and it’s negative effects on their lives.   It needs to be dealt with, and in an effective and cohesive way, and during 2007 it will feature strongly in the work of the Monmouthshire Mental Health Network and also the work of Service User Involvement.   If you would like to become involved in some small or big way in working on getting information out into the press and community which creates better understanding, and hopefully starts to reduce stigma, then let me know by e-mail, and I will keep you informed.   If you feel strongly enough to want to take a lead role in the work group, then say so, and full facilities will be available.

E-mail to, or click on the stigma links in the categories or links section on the right side of the opening page, and send me a comment.

The following is an extract from the website of the Mental Health Alliance which offers two examples of recent press reporting.   It encourages you to write to the Editors of the two newspapers and tell them what you think about these comments.  

 The Sunday Times, ‘Mentally ill murder 400’

The Observer, ‘One person a week killed by mentally ill’

These were the headlines on the front of the Sunday Times and the Observer in December 2006, about the Department of Health’s report on suicides and homicides by people in contact with mental health services.

Headlines like these can add to the stigma and discrimination that people with mental health problems face. It’s important to tell newspapers how stories like this can affect you: your life, your work, your relationships.

You need to explain the effect that headlines like ‘Mentally ill murder 400’ have on you, how it affects perceptions of people with mental health problems, and the impact that has on your life.

The causes of so many of the deaths, homicides and suicides, were health service failings. The solution to these deaths is better mental health services. It’s important to remind newspapers that it is the poor state of mental health services that are the real problem.

Please send a copy of any letters you send to a newspaper to


Mental Health Works

January 31, 2007

I have recently been in contact with Mary Ann Baynton, Director of Mental Health Works, Ontario, Canada.   Mental Health Works provide a really interesting site for those involved with work issues and mental illness.   A link is now provided in our Links column and if this is your area of interest then the site is well worth a look for its attitudes, views, and explanation of the duties of employers and rights of employees in relation to mental health issues.  There may be differences between UK and Canadian Employmenty law – I don’t know – but the principles and positive approach are refreshing. 

If this rings a bell…….

January 31, 2007

Service users’ lives are still tainted by ignorance, prejudice and discrimination, and the government’s mental health proposals will do nothing to improve that. In fact, although members of the government maintain that their proposals will streamline mental health care, I believe the proposals will highlight who and where mental health service users are in the community. This will do nothing to stop the demonisation of people with mental health needs.”The administration of Community Treatment Orders (CTO) will see to that, especially if a posse of social workers with police backup arrive regularly at a certain flat. This will lay that person open to even more stigmatisation in their community, and perpetuate the false notion that crime or violence is a symptom of mental illness. The combined effect will be enough to prevent someone with a CTO from ever becoming socially integrated.”

This is an extract from Andrew’s story on the Mental Health Alliance website.   To read the complete account click on the MHA link and consider it for yourself.   Comments back will be very welcome. 

Mons Network & Forum

January 29, 2007

Understandably people are asking what happened to cause the cancellation at short notice of the January Network & Forum meeting.   It was simply that it was not possible to make arrangements for travel for those who do not have access to transport.   It would have meant that the meeting would have been attended by only two or three members,  and it seemed inconsiderate to ask them to make the effort with such a low attendance forecast.   This is always a difficult situation.   We are doing all that we can to link up people who do not have transport with those who do and are having some success with this.   The meeting due in February will go ahead whatever happens, and if you are able to offer transport to anyone wanting to travel from Abergavenny, 

Steam engine is fine – we can buy the coal…    steam-1.JPG 

Monmouth, Caldicot or Chepstow make contact directly with myself or Debbi, and we will be pleased to put you in touch.    We are able to pay mileage expenses for those who help in this way.   If you can help, while we are trying to sort out the difficulties, then please do as keeping the Network and Forum in operation is really important to achieving service improvements.   

Just Fight On…Bullying at Work.

January 29, 2007
Breaking News!! Nick Hanning will be running a seminar on March 28th in London on Legal Remedies for Bullying & Harassment at Work.The details are still be announced but we can tell you Bill Majrowski has also agreed to talk about his experience of going through the court process as high as the House of Lords.

JFO will receive all profits from this exclusive event. Full details and booking information will be sent out shortly.



Bullying in the workplace

January 10, 2007

A new comment from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (7.1.07) which may interest some of you.   Click on Bullying category and look at comments on Part 1.

And now another – academics have some serious issues with bullying – see comments.

Voluntary or not..?

January 2, 2007

About 5 years ago I had a breakdown and became very ill. At one stage I even thought about killing myself and so went to my GP who told me to go home, make sure someone was with me at all times and he would phone the local Mental Health team urgently. That was on a Wednesday. On the Friday, I was still feeling bad and phoned my GP. He was horrified to hear the mental health team hadn’t been in touch. A little later, and yet another phone call to the team from my GP I was asked to go to the local psychiatric hospital for an assessment, which I did. It was decided by both myself and the psychiatrist that it would be best for me to be admitted for a few days. In other words, I agreed to go, or to use the right terminology, I was classed as an informal or voluntary patient. I had been there for about 8 days when I happened to mention to another patient that I was missing my children, felt much better and that I had decided that I would leave the hospital the following day. Big mistake! Before I knew what was happening my “named nurse” (who I had hardly seen since admission) came and gave me a stern talking to. I explained I now felt much better and really missed the kids and wanted to go home in the morning. In no uncertain terms I was told that if I did leave the police may well be called out to look for me and that I could end up sectioned. For what? For feeling better or just because I missed my family? I was under the impression, maybe naively, that if you are admitted to a psychiatric unit voluntarily I would be able to leave voluntarily. After all, if I was in hospital for a physical reason I can discharge myself and will not be chased around the county until I was marched back in being told I would be held against my will for the next x-amount of time! I am a relatively intelligent person who was aware I was unwell and needed help. The same intelligence told me that I now no longer needed to be couped up in a very depressing place and would be better off being with people who love me and would care for me. So why could I not leave? To conclude the story, I was seen by another psychiatrist a couple of days later and was told I was fine and that I could go home!!! I have thought about this a few times since and still cannot work out why I could not leave. If it is about duty of care well why can’t there be a disclaimer similar to the ones used by general hospitals which informal patients can sign? Another thought was maybe once you have a mental illness you are suddenly unintelligent and have no idea how you feel so therefore cannot make a decission (although I made the one to be admitted). What I would really like to know is whether this is a common problem faced by informal patients? If you have suffered the same problem or know someone who has I would like to hear about it. Thank you. DJ