We don’t need no education….

A few days ago I was scrolling down my twitter timeline when I saw a tweet about an article in cosmopolitan on mental health. Alarm bells did ring ( it was in Cosmo), but then I thought perhaps the magazine was finally broadening it’s horizons & tackling more than blow jobs & fashion. Give them a chance, I told myself. Needless to say my initial instincts were correct. The piece consisted of ‘ insights’ from the book Fundamentals by Natasha Devon. It took the form of ten – supposedly helpful & informative – nuggets about mental health.

It of course included all the usual basic, but essentially useless stats. You know the things I mean, everyone has mental health, 1 in 3, there’s no such thing as normal blah, blah blah.

She also included the classic minimising physical activity improves mental health tit bit. When will they stop with that? Yes, going for a nice walk might help a person who feels a wee bit down. However, it’s not useful advice for a person who is terrified of opening their front door or too depressed to wash or experiencing hallucinations. In short all it does is make an ill person feel guilty for not being able to make themselves better & give ignorant people an excuse to tell us that we’re just too lazy to help ourselves.

Along the same lines was her suggestion that we should ‘practice thinking & behaving in positive ways to increase your confidence’. The notion of practicing thinking in a particular manner baffles me. How do you practice thinking? Surely you are either thinking or you are not? It is not a thing you can rehearse. Of course this counsel falls into the minimisation pattern. You’re not confident because you’re not practising. It’s places blame whilst simultaneously ignoring the fact that illnesses such as panic disorders or social anxiety can not be treated by just shoving a person into triggering situations over & over again.

The final point I want to discuss is by far the worst. I was immediately over come with rage upon reading it. Natasha’s 8th recommendation was that ‘there’s a right & wrong way to raise awareness’ . Apparently there is a fine line between talking openly & simply giving people ideas. We must not give details of our experiences only how we might have felt. I abhor this bullshit. How dare anyone tell a person how they can communicate their life experiences? It falls into that same old mould of not wanting to hear the dirty details. We are not permitted to be heard until we have sanitised ourselves. It sickens me.

Alarmingly the link to this article was retweeted by Mind’s official twitter account along with the policy & development officer for Mental Health Foundation. I despair. These are organisations who are supposed to represent & support all sections of the mental health community. Yet time & again they ignore our pleas to stop perpetuating this damaging nonsense.

So, I’ll ask again. No doubt my plea will be in vain, but I will continue on my attempts to be heard.

1/ Please stop giving credence to the minimising notion that excerise, healthy diet, hot bath etc will in any way help a person with a serious mental health condition.

2/ Please stop censoring honest accounts of mental illness.

3/ Please stop focusing solely on he recovery narrative. We’d like those who cannot recover or whose recovery does not fit the traditional shape to be allowed a voice.

You can read the article here
http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/body/health/a10241/mental-health-information/

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3 Responses to “We don’t need no education….”

  1. Ugh, missed that on twitter* but ye, it`s the same old stuff being spouted.

    The whole “Recovery” narrative is hugely damaging for those of us for whom recovery is very unlikely/impossible to happen.

    The big organisations like those you mentioned who are “supposed to be” representing and supporting all of us…they also are representing their donors, etc who often have vested interests in the whole recovery blah-ness.

    Point 2 that you made “please stop censoring honest accounts of mental illness” is something I agree with so, so much. If a bath and some hugs helped one person “recover”, then that’s great. However, if getting through it with limited or inappropriate support, or none at all is what others have to do, then those voices should be heard, too.

    Ugh, hope some of this has made sense. Apologies for the ramble.

    *@ A_bit_mental is our twitter acc , btw.

  2. jenna Says:

    Well said

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