Reality Check

There are many things that we recognise as the reality around mental ill health and there are many perceived truths and limited facts. These will change over time as we learn more, talk more, share more, open our minds more to different experiences. We hope for a different tomorrow. Stay curious and open to new perspectives. Challenge. Convince us we’re wrong. The debate is important.

  • We recognise that mental ill health is complex individually, systemically, culturally, ethnically, philosophically, scientifically, religiously and spiritually, professionally, (and in every other way), and that there are no quick fixes or clear answers. 

 

  • We recognise that the causes of mental ill health are complex; from the “organic” to the “early developmental wiring” to the “life events” to the “environmental and systemic” and everything in between.

  • We recognise it is a lonely and vulnerable path often walked alone.

  • We recognise the value of support networks; friends, families, colleagues, and communities. It takes a “village”; working together, not apart, is key.

  • We recognise that when help is most needed that is when it can be least available as the person may not seek help and/or access to help is not easily available.

  • We recognise that declining mental health can be scary for both the individual and their network and that this fear and what it elicits in all parties can lead to a breakdown in relationships.

  • We recognise that it doesn’t happen to “other people”, it happens to all of us.

  • We recognise that the vast majority of mental ill health begins before the age of 18 and that our support systems, education systems and parents are not yet well equipped to alter this trajectory, spot signs or deal with it.

  • We recognise that the brain has not reached maturity at 18 years old and that the transition to adult mental health services at 18 is a debate that is needed.

  • We recognise that the workplace can be a contributing factor to good or poor mental health and that workplace practices and policies can help or hinder. 

  • We recognise the damage that existing employment law and workplace procedures such as performance improvement plans, grievances, and disciplinaries can have on unwanted behaviours themselves perhaps resulting from a deteriorating mental health.

  • We recognise that the law of the land may not protect those with mental ill health. Whilst being there to protect the vulnerable the law is there also to enforce a standard of behaviour expected from members of society. When mental health declines behaviour may change enough to stand the person apart from the expected norm, resulting in legal difficulties.

  • We recognise that our courts, probation services and prisons contain many with mental ill health and deteriorating mental ill health and that the system and its approach contributes further to this from factors ranging from stigma to processes to the strands of inequality that follow.

  • We recognise that labels can be shameful and stigmatising and are not required, and should not be required to receive the help needed.

  • We recognise the historic lack of training in the medical profession, and “carer fatigue” in the professional’s we turn to.

  • We recognise that the diagnostic instruments are flawed and at the same time serve a rudimentary purpose. 

  • We recognise that medication is flawed but at the same time can be useful to the right people.

  • We recognise that for many a diagnosis may be useful and opens doors to care pathways but for many it is not, can be reductionist, inaccurate and harmful.

  • We recognise our ignorance, our judgement, our shame, and our silence in speaking up.

 

  • We recognise that qualifications, governing bodies, ethical codes and other badges of office and authority in no way guarantee good and safe practices and that the quality of the therapeutic relationship and desire and hope for change are the most powerful factors.

  • We recognise that sometimes the individual needs to shift their perspective and sometimes they need to shift their environment, and sometimes their biochemistry, and maybe all, in order to get to the life they wish to be leading.

  • We recognise that the greatest challenges give us the greatest opportunities to learn and change, but that this is in dissonance with a society that values perfection and often shuns those that are seen to fail.

  • We recognise that recovery is possible, and likely is many cases, and is a combination of being a journey towards a better tomorrow and acceptance of what is today.

  • We recognise the answers and energy for change comes from everyone not just those who are deemed the “experts”.

  • We recognise that the increased awareness around mental health has triggered a “gold rush” for those with a commercial mind, for those with ego, for those with a survivor’s mission, for those who are angry, for those seeking money, status or purpose. It has become a place for those needing a voice, for those who are vulnerable, for those who are seeking safety, belonging, and connection. Those seeking not to be judged, just wanting to be accepted. For those seeking solace, consolation, and explanations. For those seeking forgiveness or apologies. For those needing to tell their story, tired of hiding, pretending, and being strong for others.

  • We recognise that Anger is the name we give to “energy for change” generated when things are not as they should be. Without appropriately directed anger we will achieve nothing. Anger is good and is necessary.

Representing those who campaign for, work for, or simply hope for a world with better treatment for those experiencing or who have experienced mental ill health

©2018 by Association of Mental Health Advocates.