Friday, 17 May 2013

I'm protesting today outside VOX office, George Square, Glasgow

I'm doing a solitary protest today outside the VOX (voices of experience) office on George Square, Glasgow. I'm demonstrating about the attempts made by VOX board members to silence my voice (SHUT UP! go to bed), the lack of respect given to critical voices by VOX governance and the conflicts of interest in the VOX governance.

"VOX is a National Mental Health Service User Led organisation, we work in partnership with mental health and related services to ensure that service users get every opportunity to contribute positively to changes in the services that serve them and wider society."

I don't believe that VOX has made room for people like me in their membership, survivors of mental illness and psychiatry. It has become increasingly difficult for my voice to be heard in VOX matters. My activism and campaigning has resulted in bullying by VOX board members in Emails and discrimination at meetings. My protest will be a way of me having a voice and is a matter of principle.

 
The straw that broke this camel's back came via a two pronged attack.  A combination of arrogance, ignorance and condescension.  An unctuous mixture.  I took the bullying, the badmouthing and the backstabbing but the condescension is a step too far.

So I have resigned from the membership of VOX as a matter of conscience.  I can't be a member of a group that supports (doesn't stand against) forced treatment in psychiatric settings.  It would be condoning the force used against my sons, my mother and me.  In my opinion VOX should be speaking out about and against human rights abuses in psychiatric treatment, rather than being a focus group for government and NHS.



10 comments:

  1. What should VOX be doing to stand against forced psychiatric treatment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a start VOX could/should allow the voices against forced treatment a space to speak out rather than only having voices that think force is OK. That would be a start. Space for people to speak out about human rights abuses in psychiatric treatment, what's happened to them and how they feel about it.

      I recently attended a VOX focus group, before leaving the membership, and the VOX paid worker spoke about us reaching a 'consensus' on the topics we were discussing. Then in an Email after this a VOX board member spoke to me about the majority view of VOX members. This isn't helpful and in fact is nothing to do with having a voice or listening to the VOX membership.

      All the views of the VOX membership should be taken into account not just the dominant voices, otherwise it is just like the patriarchal psychiatric system where decisions are made on our behalf and our voices aren't listened to. Where the non-compliant are made to comply, using force if necessary. And this is what happened to me as a member of VOX. I was bullied and attempts were made to silence me, for being non-compliant.

      Delete
    2. Non-compliant equals non-conformist in the 'real' world, something I've always been and is the main reason that I was able to resist psychiatry and survive 'mental illness'. I didn't break free from the system just to be put into a straitjacket by VOX.

      Delete
  2. Can you imagine no circumstances in which compulsory treatment may be beneficial for a person even when they don't think it is beneficial?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a matter of imagination but, in my opinion, a matter of treating people as persons, individuals, listening to them, getting to know them, forming a relationship, hearing their story, asking what happened.

      My experience of psychiatry and psychiatric inpatient treatment was none of these things. It was about taking the psychiatric drugs or being made to, being compliant, doing what the psychiatric staff said, regardless of what I wanted, in what to me and others was an oppressive regime.

      It was also about peers supporting peers, patients supporting patients, solidarity in our oppression. I remember this well and how the support of fellow patients made a difference to my inpatient experience. However not all patients were supportive and not all psychiatric staff were oppressive. It's the system that's oppressive. We don't need to be aligning ourselves with an oppressive system. That's my way of seeing it, having had every family member of mine go through psychiatric and be forcibly treated.

      Delete
    2. Last sentence should read "go through psychiatry and be forcibly treated."

      Delete
  3. Is there a place for psychiatrists in an alternative system?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The psychiatrists have a place, in the psychiatric system. An alternative would be an alternative to the system. Bringing in alternatives and de-medicalising mental distress would take the pressure off the system to socially control the mad people, helping to bring about the paradigm shift that many of us are working towards. Or that's how I see it.

      Delete
    2. Some people believe in psychiatry, it's biomedical model of mental illness, diagnoses/labels, medication/drugs, need for compulsory/forced treatment. Others of us don't. Why should I and other non-believers have to obey the 'church' of psychiatry? Be forced to comply, take disabling drugs, be disrespected and bullied. Things written about us in 'medical' notes that misrepresent our motives, badmouth and slander our reputations. And all because we don't believe it. In religious terms that would be persecution.

      Delete
  4. Is VOX just a very tame talking shop? Why do we never hear questions about how much psychiatrists earn compared with put upon social care workers and other people who work in mental health? Why are consultant psychiatrists worth six figure sums when others working in mental health earn chicken feed by comparison? Is it not time to ask these kinds of questions? Is it not time for the salaried workers and board members of organisations like VOX to demand answers to these questions? Why is the NHS and its staff beyond reproach? We as a society need to give vulnerable people help, but when are we going to stop putting the NHS and its workers on a pedestal and ask difficult questions about what they do and how the pots of money are divided up? Surely we can be opposed to cuts to services and still question whether the services we are forced to accept are meeting our needs? Maybe we should be asking the VOX board members and staff what the organisation has achieved since it came into existence and make them more accountable to the membership? When are they going to stop pussy footing around, get the finger out and start asking the awkward questions which nobody in a position of authority, whether in government or in the NHS, wants to answer?!

    ReplyDelete