Casual Mental Health Stigma in The Guardian today

People that know me will be fully aware that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the stigma the media has towards people with mental illnesses.

It tipped this morning when I read this very offensive piece in the Guardian by Maev Kennedy.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/25/children-parents-mental-health-problem-poor-care (copied below, I will pull the reposting if the piece gets pulled!)

 

Here are two blogs that explain the problem better than I can.

Stigma of mental illness? Alive and well – On the RSA Blog

and

The Mental Health ‘Problem’ – or going about your daily business like a ‘normal’ person from the Sweary Knitter blog.

This is a copy of a complaint I emailed to The Guardian, I hope you feel able to do the same. 

Dear The Guardian,

It pains me to have to write to you about such things, I have a deep love for the Guardian, but I feel the need to speak out against a very problematic piece that was published this morning under the heading “Children of people with Mental Health problems at risk of harm, study reveals.’

I found the piece both offensive and derogatory towards people with mental illness. Rather than try to write long piece about it I have listed the problems I feel with it.

1 – It is not longer politically correct to refer to ‘Mental Health problems’ – equally as much as you won’t say people with physical disabilities and their problems.

2 – The piece makes massive generalisations about people with mental health conditions, stating that children who have parents with a Mental Illness are at risk, when it should obviously state that some children are at risk. Painting all parents with a mental health condition as a danger to their children, as I sure you can understand, is bigoted.

3 – The piece makes an assertion that “although an estimated 30% of adults who experience mental health problems have children, there is no national obligation to notify relevant authorities or collect information on how they are coping.”  We’re not sex offenders you know… we are people with illness and implying that to have children we should be on a register likens us to sex offenders and is extremely offensive and stigmatising.

4 The piece draws little evidence based research from the report and seems to deal in speculation, a speculation that is based on an unfair and unjust representation of people with mental illness.

5 It appears to me that Maev Kennedy’s reporting is predominately about cultural issues, I wonder why she has been asked to cover an issue that should be handled with sensitivity and insight, which she clearly does not have.

I hope that you are able to take my valid concerns with the seriousness that they warrant so that I will not be required to take my complaints further.

Best wishes

James 

The article.

Children of people with mental health problems at risk of harm, study reveals

Report by Ofsted and Quality Care Commission reveals that 30% of adults with mental health problems have children.

Children whose parents or carers have mental health problems are poorly provided for and sometimes left at risk of harm, according to a report to be issued on Monday by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, which also calls on the government to make it mandatory for data on such children to be collected.

Analysis of serious case reviews where children either died or were seriously harmed between 2007 and 2011 showed that mental health difficulties in their families were among the most common factors, along with drug and alcohol problems and domestic abuse.

In one case, two children aged eight and 10 were only taken into care when their mother went into hospital, even though a report had already noted her worsening anxiety and depression after her partner left, that she had not showered for six months, rarely left the house and spent most days asleep.

The joint report from the two bodies, What about the Children?, says that although an estimated 30% of the 9 million adults who experience mental health problems have children, there is no national obligation to notify relevant authorities or collect information on how they are coping.