Come along & be “inspirational”, spill your guts, serve yourself up on a plate and guess what you even get £50 to spend. What’s not to like?
So……here is the latest attempt by national Mind to try to inform themselves about ‘personality disorder’…..
It begs the question, what the hell is going on with national Mind at the moment!? Only 4 months ago they outraged and betrayed many mental health activists by agreeing to a secondment of one of their key managers to a placement for the department for work and pensions. Yes, that’s right, the same DWP that has decided that if we are able to read an alarm clock, or raise our arms above our heads we are completely undeserving of support from the state.1
And now some bright spark has decided that Mind HQ doesn’t know enough about ‘personality disorder’ and as a result have put out this request for one (that’s right folks ONE) person who has had experiences with this label.
PDintheBin would like to respond to the recent request for an individual with lived experience of ‘personality disorder’ to deliver ‘training’ to two groups of staff from their team. We are angry and appalled that Mind HQ have decided that this is the best way to access and inform themselves of perspectives on ‘personality disorder’. Heres why:
The Chosen One
Choosing one person to represent all the views and perspectives of ‘personality disorder’ is unethical and pointless. There has been so much that’s already been highlighted about the flawed and ablest idea that one person can represent an entire population. We see examples of resistance to this from all intersections of society. For example when one disabled person is chosen to speak at a conference under the supposition of ‘representing the disabled perspective’. Likewise with issues around race, gender and sexuality. Why are we SO far behind with thinking around this in mental health? All this does is put us in competition with our fellow survivors and SU’s. It is yet another example of Mind’s complete inability to reflect on the position of power they are in. Singling us out in this way can also replicate abusive dynamics by seemly giving privilege to one who is deemed as ‘special’ and ‘unique’.
This is emotional prostitution
So the idea is that the chosen one, the one to represent all the experiences of ‘PD’, sits on a chair in front of ten people (again we have no idea who these people actually are….just ye know….Mind people) and tells their story, answers questions about their story and gets their £50 and then what? Will Mind provide any support for this ‘service-user’ once they have spilled their guts. Will there be any follow up for the SU in terms of what difference their perspective has made?
All the battles over recent years to move away from ‘wheeling the service-user out’ at conferences to ‘tell our story’. Could Mind not think of ANY other way to access a range of opinions and narratives around ‘PD’. Really? This is it? If this is the case, we might be inclined to think that Mind are purposefully recruiting staff with a woeful lack of imagination. There are millions of ways to conduct this kind of research. There is also a dearth of information out there about how to scope services-user perspectives ethically. Have Mind somehow lost their internet connection? Has Google gone down?
Also, Mind HQ have an enormous amount of capital. Why then, has this so-called ‘personality disorder’ training come down to one, golden individual to impart their knowledge and perspective for no less that £50! As one of our members points out ‘so each member of Mind at the session would be essentially paying £5 for this chosen SU to spill their guts’ .…That’s a fiver folks… and we are somehow supposed to feel valued and important to Mind!? Perhaps we could suggest that Paul Farmer (CEO) is paid 5 quid the next time he agrees to give another one of his pseudo-anti-stigma speeches. Or maybe a few of us could sit in a room and wheel him in to tell us how challenging it is to be a privileged, white, male, executive charity giant. We can then give him his fifty quid, pat him on the head and tick our ‘consulted with oppressed executive’ box.
We at PDinthebin would like Mind HQ to try to imagine the worst events that have happened in their lives. Now try to imagine being asked to rehash these events in front of twenty corporate strangers. Now imagine those corporate strangers, situated in pretty nice looking offices in central London, offering you FIFTY QUID for this service you have provided to them.
Tokenism at its finest
The survivor movement has been highlighting issues with tokenism in service-user involvement and collaboration for years now. Some steps have been taken to combat tokenism so it is bewildering to see, in 2017, the national charity for mental health has arguably made one the most tokenistic requests for involvement to date. Can anything helpful be gathered by extracting the experience of one personal in this way?
Transparency and ‘cherry-picking’ narratives
This is a classic issue with Mind and most large semi-corporate mental health charities. None of us who may apply for this gilded role will know who exactly will be making the decision regarding who the chosen one will be. We also have no idea what Mind plan on doing with all of the applications that get rejected. Inviting people to apply for a single position feels as tho they have already decided what narrative they are looking for. Based on their chosen method for gathering information about ‘PD’ it is not a stretch to assume that their selection process is likely to result in the best example to fit their stereotype of ‘PD’ for whatever agenda they began this whole ridiculous process for. Also, have Mind even thought about the emotional consequences for those people who share their stories on their application forms and are deemed not good enough for the role. Do Mind really want to be telling people that their experiences aren’t enough. Isn’t this just replicating what people hear from services constantly, ‘your distress isn’t enough’ ‘you aren’t the one’. Why can’t we begin to think beyond these oppressive ways of communicating with one another.
What are Mind’s motives behind putting out this request? The lack of transparency around how this has come about and what it will be used for leads us to suspect that the one participant / specimen may generously and graciously gift Mind their £50 of trauma only to assist Mind to secure more contracts and funding for more of the same inadequate, short-term, cbt based, ‘recover in 12 weeks then your on your own’ claptrap? Or maybe Mind are going to use this information to provide long-term and compassionate, non-pathologizing help for traumatized people…..we wont be holding our breath for this option.
We feel that Mind using distressed people in this way is abusive and sloppy. For a cherry-picked individual to provide a titillating training session for twenty strangers who are ignorant enough to think that this would qualify them to understand anyone else who has been lumbered with this label is offensive and degrading. We strongly oppose it and encourage Mind to reevaluate what it is they stand for.