Monday, 5 January 2015

Email to fellow campaigner requesting a female psychiatric survivor be at his meeting with Minister Jamie Hepburn

Here is a copy of an Email sent this morning to a fellow male human rights campaigner, and others.  

An exhortation to consider my request that a psychiatric survivor, a woman and a mother, be at the meeting with him and the Minister for Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn: 

"Dear .....

I believe that there should be a psychiatric survivor at the meeting with the Minister on 5 February 2015.  Preferably a woman and a mother.  To give balance and also to speak from personal experience.  I have to speak out about this to you, and the others, and can't keep quiet.  I wouldn't have survived traumatic psychiatric treatment and the stigmatising labels if I'd allowed myself to be silenced.

The main issue about the psychiatric system and mental health law is that our voices are not being heard.  The women, the mothers and the mental patients.  It has been written, by feminist academics, that psychiatry treats everyone like women.  That ECT is a gentleman's way of battering a woman.  (see 2006 paper by Bonnie Burstow,  'Electroshock as a form of violence against women')

It is the voices of the survivors which have the power and should be heard, in my opinion.  Those of us who did not believe in the lifelong mental illness labels or that we had to swallow the disabling psychiatric drugs, and then were forced to do so.  Those of us who tapered the drugs and got out of the system, under our own steam, resisting the patriarchy and what was written about us "in the notes".  

Mental health law gives power to the system, in my experience, and we have not found the safeguards to be safe.  In Carseview, Dundee, this didn't matter so much because the psychiatric nurses were caring to the patients and respectful to the carers.  However it was a completely different story in Stratheden, Fife, where there were human rights abuses going on behind closed doors.  Women, female patients, at risk of sexual exploitation when made to swallow psychiatric drugs and not being protected by staff. 

These are serious matters.

I hope that I will be listened to,

Yours respectfully,

Chrys"

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