Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Have we thought through a reactive media statement? asks board member

After sending my blog post 'mental illness is big business' to the CEO of the national care provider, copied in to board members, I got a fast response (makes a change), apparently by accident, from one of their board, sent on their work Email (a national animal charity) which was directed at the CEO and said this:

"Following these emails, a couple of thoughts:

-          Have we thought through a reactive media statement in case we are contacted by any journalists? Simple (if misinformed) messages such as “I don't suppose there is an incentive for an organisation like yours to promote, or to believe in, recovery from mental illness” can easily gain traction in the media, so it’s usefully to be prepared.
-          Do we have one or two supportive voices who can help add a little balance to the story? Many of our service users’ stories will speak for themselves but not many will want to be in the media spotlight. Some anonymised quotes might be useful, as would some words of support from other respected organisations that can help tell the other side of the story.
-          Can (national care provider organisation) turn this into a positive opportunity to campaign for less stigma in the workplace? Very few organisations do and say everything right all of the time, so if there is something we can improve, there is potentially a positive story to tell. The reality is that the problem exists, even if it may be being misrepresented in this case.

You probably have all of this in hand already." (bolding is mine)

I have to be honest.  The words "misinformed" and "misrepresented" were really annoying and insulting.  The board member tried to retract their words by sending an automatic "recall" Email.  I replied by saying "Too late".  Then a longer response with a recommendation that they should not be using their day job Email for their voluntary activities.  Very unprofessional in my opinion.

And so I forwarded their Email on to various individuals working with See Me Scotland and their associates, people who head up Scottish organisations who support people with mental illness and disabilities.  Reiterating that Ruby Wax had the right idea:

"If you become mentally ill, don’t – whatever you do – tell your boss. That’s Ruby Wax’s advice. The comedian and author, who was recently awarded an OBE for her services to mental health, told the Times: “When people say, ‘Should you tell them at work?’, I say: ‘Are you crazy?’ You have to lie. If you have someone who is physically ill, they can’t fire you. They can’t fire you for mental health problems but they’ll say it’s for another reason. Just say you have emphysema.” Mental illness, she added, “is like the situation used to be with gay rights. Like being in the closet, but mental illness is now the taboo instead.”'

Guardian article 6 July 2015

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