Wednesday, 19 February 2014

meaningless involvement

I woke up this morning thinking about Scotland's mental health world and my experiences over the last 7 years or more of trying to have an influence on psychiatric settings and community MH services.  The phrase "meaningless involvement" again came to mind as it has been doing more and more these days.  

The feeling that it's all just a sham, a tick-box, tokenistic exercise and pretense that people with "lived experience" have a place at the table, are respected as experts in their own field or have something valuable to say. 

I was used to being a community development worker and empowering people in different communities or settings, to be informed and to have a voice.  I didn't expect the mental health world to be any different.  But it is.  I've been forced to admit it.  I have no choice but to tell the truth.  Let the cat out of the bag.  Pull back the curtain.  Expose it.

When the government documents spoke of inclusion, peer support, recovery, person-centred services, shared decision making, respect for carers, I believed it.  And got involved in local and national groups to have a voice and influence.  It only took a few months into 2008 when I realised that not everything in the garden was rosy.  

[I liked this Lynn Anderson song when 18, danced to it, but it wasn't real life]

The weeds and thorns are everywhere, choking the real life out of vividness, creativeness, individuality, spirituality, uniqueness, collectivism and humanity.  We might be mad but we're not stupid.  Stop controlling us as if we were puppets.  The strings have been cut and we're doing it for ourselves.  Leave off.  Do us a favour. 

[I liked this Sandie Shaw song when 15, still do, but it wasn't real life]

Mental illness is a psychiatric construct.  Psychiatry is a patriarchal system.  Some of us don't accept the mental illness labels or that daddy knows best.  When you can accept this then we'll have "meaningful involvement".

Are you listening?  Have you got it yet?

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