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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Petitions and Presumptions (aka I hate Bigots)

With regard to Powerless to Stop Mental Health Unit in DoncasterToday and Dismay over Mental Hospital Council Unable to Block Healthcare Firm's Plan.

To Editor, Doncaster Today,

I read with interest your article entitled, "POWERLESS TO STOP MENTAL HEALTH UNIT". I find it difficult to understand why people are objecting to this unit's proposed existence. Why campaign to change the law to require that psychiatric units need 'special' planning permission? And why would psychiatric patients using GP and other local services be more of a stretch to those services than residents of two nursing homes?

That 3500 people signed a petition against this project worries me immensely. Why did they feel this was necessary? Mis-information with regard to people with mental health problems is rife, particularly the myth of 'dangerousness'.

The facts are that around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain, that people with mental health problems are much more vulnerable to be assaulted themselves than to assault anyone, and are also much, much more likely to harm themselves than anyone else.

In terms of violence towards others, according to psychiatrists, the likelihood of someone being killed by somebody with a mental disorder is probably less than that of winning the National Lottery outright. Even then, victims are likely to be someone known to the killer, rather than a stranger. In fact, the most dangerous group in society is young men who drink, so for a community to feel safer I suppose it would also campaign to ban all young men and alcohol from their community?

Myths and inaccuracies being widely propagated are causing a community to be worried about risks which are not there. They are also causing this community to risk losing the benefits that new residents of this centre will contribute to their local society.

I sincerely hope that some honest and fair information will be provided to the members of this community to allay their fears, and instead to welcome new members of their community with respect.

3 comments:

Lynn Harrison said...

Excellent Pippa! There was a similar situation in Coventry about 7 years ago when residents managed to halt plans for a rehab unit, of course, the whole thing was blown out of all proportion by local hacks jumping on the stigma bandwaggon in search of a byline. The irony was that in another part of the city a housing scheme for people for mental health issues had existed for years without any problems but there again, the residents of the area hadn/t even been aware of the nature of the scheme! Ignorance is bliss it seems!
Lynn Harrison

Sarah Devlin said...

I would be interested to know what exactly it is that peopleare scared of, do they not realise that people with mental health problems already live in their community. I have mental health problems and I live in a community in whic I am more scared of the danger of so called "normal" people than of any threat I may pose to them. Please pass on thses comments to the bigots in Doncaster Pippa. Keep at it hun!!

incurable hippie said...

Thanks Lynn and Sarah. I haven't heard anything back from the Doncaster paper but am keeping my eyes and ears open!