Tomorrow I have an appointment with the Community Mental Health Team who, I imagine, will take one look at me and decide ‘huh, what’s wrong with you? You can talk clearly? You’re not flinging your waste at the walls; get a job!” Certainly their reputation, in the opinion of my not-particularly-aware GP isn’t great. Unfortunately while I’m happy to attend the appointment, I’m still dreading it.
I dread everything these days (except my treasured cups of Peppermint Tea: a true sign of my working class pretensions. Mmm…peppermint tea!). I am a nervous wreck; I had a panic attack on Sunday when there were helicopters flying over head. I have no idea who it was (I think it was the cops, though I couldn’t tell; I’ve no idea who else it could be). Three times they flew around during the day. It was too much!
I think what needs to happen in this country, particularly with regard to folk in my position, is this:
Firstly we need to take care of their financial needs. They need to get whatever welfare is required to keep them safe and secure. That needs to happen without question, not ‘handouts’ given begrudgingly by propagandists who abuse their ‘something for nothing’ nonsense to exploit them. That’s the first and most important thing.
We also need a government that is willing to stand up for these people against the likes of our disgusting media. Politicians need to be able and willing to tell the Paul Dacres, Kelvin MacKenzies and Richard Desmond’s of the world to fuck off, and that if they continue committing hate crimes their licenses will be pulled. That this isn’t happening is very telling indeed.
Secondly we need to make sure their health issues are addressed by a national health service. These people are not to be cash cows for the private sector to treat or ignore at their leisure. Mental health support in this country is woeful and anything that is perceived as getting in the way of your ability to work is of course an excuse. My doctor persists in the idea that ‘work cures all’. This is extremely dangerous: what does he mean by work? Does sitting in a call centre scamming the public count as work? He agrees with me that work should be something meaningful but of course has no ability or interest in helping find something suitable, not least of all because there are no such jobs.
Finally we should take advantage of the abilities and talents many people, particularly (I daresay) people with mental health problems. It might be a positive stereotype to say but I’m willing to bet that a large number of such people are creative arty types. I’d like to think that applies to me. Why don’t we make use of this? If their needs are taken care of financially then they are ‘earning’ their money in this way. For example we could institute community facilities or centres, even if just online, to represent and showcase this talent to the world – the whole world. From that could come all sorts of opportunities?
And it’s not just art: people out of work include many well read intelligent people with something to say, perhaps scientific, perhaps philosophical. Why not give them a platform to write articles or make presentations. If we can give column inches to overpaid politicians or think tanks to propagandise why not to someone out of work?
They could submit a piece of research, write a polemic, talk about their experiences, sing a song, or write some poetry! These schemes could be community based – local for example. Bristol is one of the most musical and creative cities in the country (compensation for that accent) and there are about 20,000 people out of work. That figure will never reach zero from here on out, but I’m willing to bet pounds to pennies there are a great many frustrated musicians or starving artists within that. Why do we assume that, because they need welfare, they are shit at what they like doing? That’s the assumption isn’t it – get a proper job. Why not help them?
Enough of the Pig Society, what about the so called Big Society!