Monday, 16 September 2013

mental health befriending - reducing isolation or increasing stigma?

There is a mental health befriending project where I live that recently had an evaluation done of its services.  According to this report you might think that this service is doing a good job of helping to reduce the isolation of people who have mental health issues.

However what the report doesn't tell you is that this project is governed by psychiatric nurses and other health professionals who make sure that any people with mental health issues who approach the project have to complete a form, declaring if they might be a risk or have been aggressive when a psychiatric inpatient.  No mention of forceful behaviour by psychiatric nurses.

I contend that this process is both stigmatising and discriminatory, and I made a complaint to the project last year about it.  My complaint was not upheld.  And the project continues, no doubt, to identify anyone who might, in their opinion, be a "risk".

In my opinion this is disgraceful and another indicator of what's wrong with the psychiatric and mental health services in Fife.  The two tier treatment of the so-called 'mentally ill' and the silo mentality of psychiatric staff who are determined to keep their SEMI (severe and enduring mental illness) label alive and kicking.

In Fife we have maintenance and rehabilitation for mental patients (prisoners?).  Alongside recovery for those deemed to have the potential.  According to the professionals who are keeping themselves in a job by keeping the mentally ill severe and enduring.   

My advice is to disregard their stigmatising labels and lifelong prognoses.  Take charge of your own mental health and recover.  Don't bother trying to access befriending projects that want you to admit the labels that have been thrust upon you.  Resist the pressure, it's the system that's risky and the workers who are forceful.

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