Somewhere hidden below the massive headline proclaiming “1200 killed by mental patients” we see the words “care crisis” in today’s sensationalist splash from the Sun newspaper. It may as well not be there really – it seems unlikely that the majority of readers are going to move on from the moral panic to spend time thinking about the link between their taxes and proper provision for the mentally ill.
Statistically if we’re talking violence and mental health patients, we should really be looking at the long and bloody history of harm done by the state to mental health patients (this is before we even get to general attacks from members of the public) – sugar comas, lobotomies, ECT, straight-jackets – this forms part of the legacy in terms of how the mentally ill are viewed. The mentally ill are at increased risk from attack both in public and in the home, and sensationalist reporting can only increase this by dehumanising and demonising the mentally ill further in the public mindset.
There IS a crisis in mental health care – a funding crisis that is seeing services sold off in part of the NHS carve up, wards understaffed, and inadequate community support. It comes down to the decisions made by the party supported by the Sun newspaper to stamp down public spending under the guise of austerity, and it is having devastating consequences for the lives of the mentally ill and their loved ones. This is of course happening alongside quack assessments which is seeing individual funding and therefore security for the mentally ill in many cases withdrawn.
I’ve started up a petition here to highlight the need for responsible reporting on mental health issues: please sign and share