Too many times the work of mental health services is clouded by negativity and tragedies. In many instances this means that the successes are overshadowed, and mental health teams as a whole are portrayed in a negative light. My aim today is to break that portrayal, all in dedication of the team of professionals that saved my life numerous times.
As can be gathered from my previous post on unethical paternalism in mental health, often the actions of professionals can be controversial, particularly in regards to the Mental Health Act which restricts an individual's liberty in times of crisis. The debate on the Mental Health Act is endless, as its morality is questioned from two "goods" - the "good" of individual liberty and the "good" of protecting an individual's safety. It is a difficult ethical dilemma to solve, as it is inevitably muddled with emotions. In the past I believed it that the Mental Health Act was an evil in the mental health system. Now, due to how events have unfolded in previous months, I have made a U-turn. A year or so since the act has lapsed, I believe it is more adequate to describe it as a "necessary evil". When you are on the right track in recovery, it is easier to see things retrospectively; and undoubtedly had the Mental Health Act not been used in my case, I would probably not be alive right now.
What is often overlooked is that the professionals who go into mental health care usually have genuine compassion. This cannot be captured by government statistics or even by journalistic articles. To find this compassion, you have to be on the ground with the teams, experiencing it directly. Their job is arduous, as often working with mental illness (as with working with physical illness) can be particularly upsetting. We often forget that mental health professionals, behind the professional facade, are people too. Any decisions made are usually made with a great deal of care. On paper, decisions are sterile and "matter-of-fact"; when in reality they are thought of a great deal by an individual. In some cases, the decisions made may be wrong, but that does not mean that there is not a caring intention behind it.
The amount of negativity in the press about mental health care ultimately cannot be dispelled by the successes. To grab public attention, usually the media usually looks for sensational, eye-catching stories. In this respect, successes are like "good news", often unreported and overlooked. However, gradually I believe that the more people speak of the successes of the mental health system, the more people will acknowledge them. In my case, I am extremely grateful towards the professionals that have saved my life multiple times, and still have not given up on me when I was resistant towards their help. Because of their support, I am on the right track in recovery. This is my success, and surely it cannot be an isolated case.