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Support - an example

So the latest instance of support predictably didn't materialise.

One of the more pernicious aspects of the 'doctor/patient' relationship (by doctor I mean any relevant authority) is that if you don't try whatever is put in front of you, you are deemed to be feckless. This of course isn't the sole purview of the mental health 'service'.

What makes it so pernicious is that, deep down, you just know that you are wasting your time. When it comes to actions intended for mental health, it is even more counter productive.

And so it is with the last piece of advice given to me by the 'Wellness Advisor' from Positive Step (the local sole purveyor of simplistic mental health solutions - ugh, solutions, what a word). In respect of help regarding a bus pass, which I sorely need given how isolated I am, he agreed that I needed one, but refused to sign off on one. Instead I was to speak to another social enterprise knowing full well that they couldn't. Guess what, they can't. Same old story; hopes slightly rise (just maybe these people can help), but nope. It really is a shit show.

But actually that's just a preamble, setting the scene. I wanted to illustrate the aspects of what support is like here. I'm using the example of a group called '1in4' who operate as a mental health support group, the key here is that they are primarily user led. That might sound positive, but in truth, in this age of cuts, it really means leaving people to their own devices while the people running the service (for whom I bear no ill will - this isn't personal) can't offer anything (except maybe some foot rubbing).

And therein lies the problem.

What you actually end up with is a room full of broken, fucked up, people. Folk who carry all the baggage of living in our society, with all its prejudices and preconceptions. That's fine as far as it goes, but people bring those views, their own baggage, into places like 1in4 - the problem is that the people running the service have no means to deal with that. When mental health is involved it becomes worse.

What I'm saying is that, as I've discussed, mental health issues are at least exacerbated (if not caused, in many cases) by the systems of oppression under which we live: capitalism, misogyny, race, etc. This can, and indeed has, manifest in the expression of everyday casual racism: I've sat and listened to users talk about 'them foreigners'. Otherwise seemingly nice people resorting to casual prejudice of the kind that people innocently soak up every day.

It's only when you start to look at these systems and the way our society and its economy are run (ie capitalism) that you see the truth of what's going on. That's the beginning of a lonely journey of realisation. But I believe that journey should be part of the healing process: we can't help people who suffer from issues such as anxiety and depression (arguably the greatest health threat facing humanity today).

The problem is that places such as 1in4 are just passive. They are subject to the whims of government policy and ideology when what they need to be is more proactive. This needs to manifest in taking a more proactive approach to the real reasons why issues such as depression are so prevalent. In short they need to get properly political. But they can't because of funding, because of capitalism!

So until that happens, 1in4 - and other places I'm sure - will be nothing more than a room where people that struggle in our convoluted high pressure society will be shepherded. Kept out of sight to sit on a couch and stare at a wall surrounded by others who, despite appearing to have common ground, may be as distant to them as the dream of a better society. What we need is unity and strength in a shared purpose informed by true awareness of the oppression to which we are subject.


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