As a community development worker and grassroots activist since 1980 I've always been used to speaking out and telling it like it is. It wasn't a problem in community work where empowerment and lifelong learning were/are the cornerstones and foundations, of helping people to help themselves. It wasn't about empire building or institutionalised behaviour but about developing projects along with local people then moving on when the roots were established.
It meant that I was never in jobs for long and got used to meeting new people, discovering the lie of the land quickly, garnering the skills and strengths, setting up systems, then letting go when the time was right. A great career for me as I always did get bored easily if leadership was lacking or management flawed. And nothing's changed now I'm 60 with a bus pass.
The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC) is a powerful organisation in its watchdog role over psychiatry and my concern is that the power could go to its head. Free speech and critical voices are necessary for keeping balance in society although not always welcome in institutions. Therefore a sign of healthy organisational culture will be a welcoming of opposite and apposite views and thoughts.
Otherwise, to my mind, an organisation becomes an institution and is in danger of becoming a totalitarian state. The challenge is to encourage critical voices and freedom of opinion, not easy in a mental health world that allows compulsory treatment and the resulting use of force on vulnerable people. Because if a person speaks out are they going to be at risk of being forcibly silenced?
Here's the real root of the problem as I see it: the use of force in psychiatric treatment. Juan E Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment states in his report to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council Agenda Item 3, 4 March 2013, Geneva:
"States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs, for both long and short-term application. The obligation to end forced psychiatric interventions based on grounds of disability is of immediate application and scarce financial resources cannot justify postponement of its implementation."
I want to see the MWC working alongside people like me, listening to critical voices and different opinions, challenging the use of forced treatment in psychiatry so that it can eradicated once and for all. Force is never justified and demonstrates psychiatric system failure. I do hope that the people in power are listening to a mother's voice which is also a survivor testimony.