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(en) UK, Walthamstow Anarchist UNDERDOG #9 - Mental Health Act

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 29 Jun 2004 12:38:39 +0200 (CEST)


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Around 1997 there was a whole raft of
particularly negative press coverage about
Community Care and "the mentally ill."
Never good, most press portrayed us as
violent, victims or vulnerable, with few
articles giving any information about help
from the established mental health chari-
ties. The Mad Pride organisation set out
to counteract the negative stereotyping
by getting positive stories in the media
from a grassroots point of view about our
issues, do our own thing and demand me-
dia attention.
Enquiry
Before the election of New Labour,
Stephen Dorrell, Tory health minister com-
missioned "The Confidential Inquiry into
Suicides and Homicides by the Mentally
Ill". It was the publication of this report
which led to the storm of negative press.
He identified 33 homicides over a period
of 18 months, about 22 a year. The Daily
Express headline read "Community
Care Patients Freed to Kill One a Fortnight".
The total of 22 needs to be put into some
context, Home Office figures show there was
693 homicides that year, the figure is fairly
steady around 700 a year and there are
usually about 300 deaths by dangerous
driving, about 1,000 killings a year. Further
over-medication kills one person a week,
so in fact you're twice as likely to be killed
by a psychiatrist than someone who is
mentally ill.
New Labour
Frank Dobson, New Labour's health minis-
ter used the report and the media frenzy
to announce that Community Care had
failed. He also stopped the closure pro-
gramme of the old Victorian asylums. The
fact of the matter is that since the start
of the closure of the asylums and the ad-
vent of Community Care, homicides have
been decreasing, but this didn't stop
Dobson proposing a root and branch re-
view of mental health legislation. The re-
view was completed in 1998, the Govern-
ment ignored most of the positive aspects
of the report and proposed the dreaded
Compulsory Treatment in the Community.
Thus uniting activists, psychiatrists, law-
yers and charities against the new mental
health Bill, as yet it is still to be published.
For more info visit www.madpride.gov.uk
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PO Box 35832, London E11 3WT


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