How long’s it been since the last mail-out? An age, an aeon, an epoch, during which time, it’s fair to say, truly good news has been about as easy to find as hen’s teeth. So gird your loins (or whatever else you fell like girding, which is apparently a demonstration sport in the Olympics beanfest, which we’ll all agree has been an absolute bargain) and read on…
First up is a whole torrent of updates via our friends,allies and colleagues at NSUN. Now, if you do nothing else today*, please join them, and that way you’ll get their bulletins regularly, be part of a genuinely user-led national mental health organisation that has real clout but retains integrity, and helps us out here in the North East.(* this is what’s known as a rhetorical device: please remember to y’know, eat,drink,breathe etc.). So here are updates bulletins (in chronological order) one, two,three,four,five and six,seven and eight.
And if that weren’t enough, here’s the NSUN news extra on the Govt’s new implementation strategy for mental health (kinda woolly to this reader, favouring some of the usual suspects and at best piecemeal). Attached is a briefing from the NHS Confed on the very same topic, but the NSUN angle is here. Choice extracts: "Standing up to government policies we believe damage mental health whilst seeking to increase the positive influence of service users in government is a difficult line to tread and so it was a tough decision to put our name to the No Health Without Mental Health implementation framework…That is not to say we agree with everything in it and much depends on whether it is actually implemented not least by other government departments including education and the Department for Work and Pensions in particular whose benefit changes are badly hurting many people with mental health conditions… If we find that ‘nothing about me without me’ is indeed just empty rhetoric we will not hesitate to withdraw our support and campaign vigorously against those who have wasted a valuable chance for progress."
As chance would have it, the Guardian has a piece on the same implementation strategy, squirrelled away in its little known Professionals section (which disappointingly lacks both Bodie and Doyle). Choice extract : "But there is little in here which is new, original or inspiring, and it is riddled with missed opportunities."
And so we come to the (other people’s, obviously our friends and/or allies otherwise they wouldn’t feature, because we wouldn’t have received them in the first place) newsletters section…Not one, but two from NEMHDU, busy bees that they are (attached, as newsltters 7 and 8). Then there’s NIWE (the eating distress service) with their bulletin here.
Okay, now time is ticking on, you’re possibly weary, I know I am, and there’s a chance that any more newsletters or attachments may get overlooked, so we’ll save those for a part 2 mail-out later this week.
And what of the news and views bit…well, that’s coming too. In the meantime, let’s hope that many people watched both the Channel 4 Dispatches programme and the BBC’s Panorama, which both went out on Monday the 30th of June and in a weird bit of synchronicity both dealt with the ongoing shambles/disgrace of the WCA (Work capability assessment) process as practised by the less-than-reputable giant multinational atos. Your correspondent has inveighed at great length and with considerable energy for years now (including when the system was introduced by the last Govt, let alone when it was ramped up to an even more unacceptable level by the current lot) about the iniquities of a system that at first,second and third glance appears custom-built to deny legitimate vulnerable claimants the support they deserve, and appears by almost all accounts to treat those with mental health problems particularly shoddily.
Here is a good review of those programmes (still available via catch-up services, but not easy viewing by a long chalk). Oh, and how might you fare with the atos questions? Find out here…Even Prof Harrington, who was tasked by the Govt to review the processes (and who has a call out for evidence for his third review…) and seen by some as a placeman/"safe pair of hands" has stated his profound misgivings. Oh, and he’s standing down…When the Daily Mail and the Daily telegraph are running stories like these, C4 and the Beeb putting out programmes, then possibly there’s a faint glimmer of hope.
To be continued.
LAUNCHPAD Team Leader,
NTWSU&C n/wk co-chair (with Mish Loraine)
(for network business: ntwsuc)
Offices 210 and 211,
Holy Jesus Hospital,
Newcastle upon Tyne,