Our voices are not
heard. A system in need of an urgent overhaul. For the people now, and for
those who will require services in the future. A system supposed to support,
which instead turns its consumers to mutes. A system without unified structure.
The very same system that passes judgement on an illness already stigmatised by
society. How are we supposed to believe in ourselves when the system we have
entered, creates non-beneficial views of its consumers? How can we be heard?
Where do we turn when we need the extra support and assistance to either
overcome or stabilise our illness? Since when did the brain become excluded
from our physical being?
We are the people
with mental illness. If our pharmaceutical treatment was referred to as
chemotherapy, would society and the mental health system itself, view us
differently? After all, we are taking medication which when broken down, are
chemicals; we are indeed undergoing a form of chemotherapy. Just like cancer,
mental illness has just as strong probability and potential to kill. I won’t
dispute the fact that at times, mental illness is indeed self inflicted by
means of drug and or alcohol, abuse. But again, how does this differ from any
other illness? We can prevent a lot of cancers, but some of us still choose to
smoke, to get sunburnt, and to live sedentary lifestyles.
Why is the system that is supposed to support
us, lacking in so many ways? Why are the voices of the consumers not heard? Why
does our opinion of personal experience within the system not get acknowledged?
We are the mentally ill. We are human too, just like those initiating,
implementing, and working within the system. Some of those working within the
system themselves, do not have an adequate understanding of mental illness. Too
many times to remember, I was asked why, when I have a job, a house, and
children, am I unwell? And like I would always say – I would trade everything
excluding my children to not be suffering within the realms of the illness
itself. I, like many others I have met, did not in any way contribute to the
“acquisition” of my mental illness. I did not choose to feel the way I felt, or
to think the way I thought. Just as a cancer patient did not request a
particular type of cancer, or request where and when it would show up next.
It is my belief, that
the consumers of the public mental health system, do indeed, need to band
together to try and initiate change. To be heard. To be allowed to be heard.
Is the private mental
health sector any different? Well, yes. In some ways it is. For one, it is more
aesthetically pleasing to a private inpatient, however, the internals of the
system are much the same. Both systems rely heavily on medicating its
consumers, which sometimes, I believe quite unnecessary. I ask you, as a fellow
member of society – do you require medicating for every emotion, action, or
thought that falls outside the realms of the “norm”? If the system cannot build
trust within its consumers, then how are the consumers supposed to believe in
themselves? Unless you are a person that likes to know the ins and outs and
one’s rights within the system, or are actually well enough to do this, then
the uppermost practitioners within the system will, and do, take advantage. It
is certainly not looked upon favourably if you question the practitioners views
or beliefs. Yet again, another example of how the consumers within the mental
health system are not heard.
If you, a loved one,
a friend, a neighbour, a work colleague have ever suffered from a mental
illness at one time or another, then please, speak up WITH us. Not just for us.
The system needs change to better benefit its consumers, and the more support
we have, the greater chance we have of making it happen. Please, help us to be
treated as equals.