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Mental Health Manifesto 1

It seems apposite that I set out what I think should be done regarding mental health and the wellbeing of our society, instead of simply bemoaning the lack of either. Ok fair enough, says I.

Anyone else that wants to add to this list, a set of ideas that will have zero influence politically and will be read by precisely no politicians ever. Oh well!

The support that exists, that I have experienced, feels like it is intended simply to keep people "off the streets". It borrows from the "idle hands" model: keep people occupied to keep them out of trouble, specifically keep them from realising the truth of their reality. That life in modern capitalist western society is, for the vast majority, shit. This is what I mean when i say that these places institutionalise people. Out of sight, out of mind - literally!

Now clearly there is a place for peer support, but that must not be at the expense of providing proper support, by which I mean offering a framework, or at least guidance from properly trained and motivated facilitators. Not just button pushers and bean counters who, at best, might offer some cheap (not really cheap) counselling or the odd mindfulness course.

A structure is needed that recognises the social model for mental health. This means educating people on the truth of the society they live in. This is intended to emancipate people from the oppression of magic thinking which is nothing more than tacit victim blaming.

In my experience, peer support groups are shackled by restrictions on these discussions. You aren't meant to talk about controversial issues because it might lead to bullying. That's understandable, and no one should be bullied obviously, but it ignores the reality: we are ALL being bullied, and those of us who suffer for it need to learn why. The purpose of this is to build networks of support and empowerment.

Why do I want this? Because knowledge is power. It might sound conspiratorial to say, but once this starts happening this power can be directed against our hapless state mechanisms to force change - or at least try. Anything else, in my opinion (and at the risk of being far too reductionist), just maintains the status quo.

Look, I get that a Tory voter with mental health issues deserves support just the same as some wordy and suave anarcho-blogger. But they will need to learn that the Tories they may genuinely support for honest reasons are not their friend. Surely this can be done with kindness and respect. Such a person is not my enemy; the people he supports are. They are clearly not supporting him or her.

We also need to recognise that, while medicalising people who have mental health problems can be counter productive, providing diagnoses is sometimes necessary in the system as it stands. It is not good enough to pretend you are helping someone who needs that diagnosis to interact with the likes of the DWP. That isn't helping them, it's hindering them.

No one should be frightened or stigmatised by a diagnosis. It is not intended as a label, that's just how our shitty system operates. This is all part of the propaganda set by the state that turns the provision of a medical 'sick' note into a 'fit' note; the purpose of which is sinister. It is to ignore the problems you have under cover of a 'can do' self help attitude (see magic thinking above). By ignoring problems we can decide more easily that you don't need help, and by help I mean income.

This is a capitalist society: people need an income. Bottom line.

That provision must be fought for. Going back to services and peer support groups. The staff working for these organisations must stop being neutral. There is no such thing. If you cannot help people deal with the DWP and, if you can't help them fight their case for ESA/UC, then you need to be able to help them find something else. We cannot have people starving to death for god's sake. In this there is no neutrality; by not helping people - or whatever reason - you are part of the problem. I say the same to DWP staff; it might sound simplistic but if you are pushing people into poverty because you are afraid of losing your job then you are part of the problem. This must be resisted and such people must be given all the support and tools they need to empower them to actually help people and resist becoming another tool of Tory cruelty. I say again: we cannot starve people.

That's all I have for now. More to come - possibly. This is a work in progress.


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