It’s not news to people that mental health systems are underfunded and barely hanging on. What a lot of people don’t know, unless they have been in it or follow artists like me, is that the ideology behind the mental health system is under the surface about coercion, control, and condemnation, and ignores social and political reasons for mental distress.
The psychiatric system is the establishment’s brown-nosing teacher’s pet. There is so much wrong with it, such as the institutionalised racism, sexism, homophobia and ableism, that I will address in some small way with my Unlimited project ‘Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds’. There is so much to change for the better. Faced with lack of funding from government, what does it do: advocate for the people who it is supposed to help, challenge societal ills? No, it introduces the most ill-suited acronym in the world: SIM or ‘Serenity Integrated Mentoring’. Sounds chilled out and supportive, doesn’t it? What it is however, is an intervention which introduces police officers into NHS services and includes threatening patients with prosecution if they continue calling for help.
It is an inverted nightmare world where care is redefined as withholding care. It is where the ‘service’ the ‘service-user’ has means they can get sent to jail if there pain is too much for the people who are there help people in pain. It is where prosecution and prison are treatment options. I have worked in prisons. Mental health will only get worse there. Broken people learn a different kind of broken there.
This is the stuff of dystopian novels: you are in a world that will drive you mad – the mad doctors can do fuck all – you suffer, you suffer, you suffer – you call out for help – you don’t get help – you call out for help – you don’t get help – you call out for help – you don’t get help – you call out for help one too many times – the police get involved – they do not make you serene – your pain is still there – your pain is criminalised – you and your pain are jailed – you are released into a world that will drive you mad…
There is a campaign website called Stop SIM. Stop SIM is a coalition of service users and allies. They say:
‘We are a coalition of mental health service users and allies who have grave concerns about the rapid, widespread rollout of the High Intensity Network’s ‘Serenity Integrated Mentoring’ (SIM) intervention across NHS England. The intervention is designed for people who have not committed a crime, but are in contact with mental health services, are frequently at high risk of suicide and self harm and are deemed “high intensity users” of emergency services. Key intervention components include a co-ordinated withholding of potentially life saving treatment by multiple agencies (A&E, mental health, ambulance and police services) and, using SIM’s own words, the “coercive” approach of a police officer as an interventionist.’
They call on NHS England to:
- Halt the rollout and delivery of SIM with immediate effect, as well as interventions operating under a different name, which are associated with the High Intensity Network (HIN).
- Conduct an independent review and evaluation of SIM in regards to its evidence base, safety, legality, ethics, governance and acceptability to service users.
Check the website out, sign the petition, make art, make noise, make change.
I am the mad one? Really? Morally insane? Fuck the fucking fuckers.