This blog has been set up after an Institute of Welsh Affairs coffee shop debate with the above title took place at the Wales Millennium Centre on 5th April 2011. This generated considerable interest and we would like to hear the views of other people affected by mental health issues, as well as share our opinions and invite debate on this subject.
Robin Williams is a volunteer Patient Advocate. He is the only independent Mental Health Advocate in Wales. (He is the one in the above picture with a beard!)
"Advocacy is quite simply, standing up for the mentally ill – individually and collectively – for the purpose of improving their confidence and quality of life. In practice it means getting a desperate plea for help from somebody that has been labelled as being ‘mentally ill’, as opposed to being ‘normal’, whatever that’s supposed to be. My job is not to question their degree of illness or their current treatment, but to answer their call for help. It doesn’t matter to me what their needs are – from benefit problems, being conned by a retail store, arguments within their family, or simply listening to them in their moment of distress."
You can read more about Robin and his work in this article:
Gillian Brightmore is a published writer who works in adult education. She is representative with the Cardiff and Vale Mental Health Development Project.
"My own experiences as a former user of mental health services have led me to question a shameful state of affairs in which a 19th Century model of care is still operating in today’s Wales. Raising awareness in and outside the mental health profession is long overdue if we are to tackle the current 19th Century Victorian asylum ethos of containment and censure rather than ‘healing’. After all, one in six of us will be subject to one or another of a wide range of mental afflictions at some stage in our lives."
You can read about Gillian's experiences in her article here: