Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Charge of the Bright Brigade

It is a pleasure to see that (General) Lord Ramsbotham continues to grace our legislature and pepper Ministers with perceptive prison-related questions.

A man with a keen eye for the inept or unjust, Rambo is of late inquiring about the number of counsellors and therapists available to deal with prisoner's mental health.

Ha!  For an institution which is so keenly equipped to disassemble, dissect and judge us using the tools in the modern psychological armoury, the prison service has systematically neglected our mental health.  Whilst claiming that fully 3/4 of us suffer from a mental disease, the system cheerfully avoids dealing with those problems.

Of course, mental health provision in the wider community is notoriously variable and drug-centred and the expect better in prisons is but a crazy dream.

And yet, I am grateful that there are those such as Rambo who give a voice to such important concerns.  Only persistence in the face of indifference has any hope for change.


  1. Well it sounds all very caring and concerned, but based on my experience of using mental health services in the community I remain very sceptical.

    A couple of years back some 'bright' politician ordered that there ought to be psychological therapies given, ( not just made available ) but given to all mental health service users. If you refused their 'offer' you were to be discharged from their care as you were deemed to no longer need any services (there was nothing more they could do for you - was their line!).

    They called this 'therapy' cognitive behavioural therapy and it was that pretty much in name only. The reality was a hotpotch of paradimes with the cumulative effect of cancelling each ones effectives out. We were left with a weekly hour's worth of patronising and judgemental dribble.

    Needless to say the grand 'experiment' failed.

    I politely refused to return after the second or third session, citing the therapists highly judgemental attitude as the reason. A major incident was when I was being 'taught' psychology which amounted to the therapist pointing out that what I chose to wear might not be what someone else likes! (ffs!)

    Their is still such fear and lack of understanding about mental health, something borne out by the horendous numbers of mentally ill people being sent to jail.

    If they were really concerned about our mental health they would abolish the IPP system, provide proper hospital, residential and day care services, and not waste everyones time and money on the pathetic 'psychological interventions' that current thinking believes holds some sort of cure. Those who think and believe that are far removed from the reality of both the interventions that take place and the service users.

  2. Nothing much seems to have changed since the closure of the austere 'mental hospitals' of the not too distant past.

    People spent decades of their lives in truly horrendous circumstances for perhaps nothing more than suffering from learning difficulties.

    The IPP sentence is in danger of becomming just another way of warehousing the mentally ill.


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