Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Monday, 28 February 2011

Discussing Mental Illness on Internet Forums

Posting on internet forums can be an enjoyable past-time and it is one in which I engage in everyday more or less. But what about when the discussion turns towards mental illness?

Unfortunately, as everyone knows, internet forums are plagued with people posting ignorant and, sometimes, bigoted views. As I stick to the more friendlier forums I manage to avoid the worst of it. But I have found that mental illness is one subject guaranteed to cause "controversy" or produce, not necessarily discriminatory views, but views that still show a large degree of ignorance.

Sometimes these sort of comments on a forum can really upset some posters, turning the discussion into a flame-war. Other times these comments are ignored or the other posters fail to see the ignorance within the comment.

Personally, I'm never going to be reduced to flaming anyone. But at the same time I will speak up if someone has posted something I know not to be quite right.

I don't think subjects such as mental illness should be avoided as topics of discussion on internet forums. In fact, quite the opposite, discussing these subjects and enlightening those who don't know as much about this subject is a highly positive and healthy activity. However, flaming someone who doesn't agree with you (no matter how ignorant they are being) is not the way forward.

It's not right for mental illness to be a taboo subject. Discussion on mental health and the issues surrounding it are healthy. Just be prepared for a few small-minded people.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Comedy Sketch Encourages Stigma Towards Mental Illness?

Ofcom are investigating a complaint made by Rethink about a sketch on Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights programme on Channel Four. Rethink does not make a habit of criticising  comedy shows...

Back in December 2010, mental health charity Rethink lodged a complaint with Ofcom over a Frankie Boyle sketch shown on the Channel 4 show Tramadol Nights.

This has not been the only complaint made to Ofcom about Boyle's Channel 4 show, he is also under fire from AIDS and cancer charities over his television show.

The sketch parodies Time to Change's fake film trailer for a horror film called Schizo (which can be viewed in this previous blog post). The "Schizo trailer" ultimately shows someone with schizophrenia talking about their experiences while making tea in his kitchen.

In the Boyle sketch a man says he has mental health problems and comments on the stigma surrounding mental illness. The camera then pans down to show four children dead and covered in blood.

There was a time long gone when I used to laugh at Boyle's humor - now I feel all he is doing is trying to shock, which will inevitably encourage ignorance and stigma.

I have heard it argued that Boyle's humor is "done with irony" and "if you don't see that, you don't understand his humor". But, surely if others do not see the "ironic-humor", then there must be those who find Boyle humorous but see no irony and their laughs derive from prejudice and holding views of stigma towards mental illness!

The sketch could also be defended by calling it "satire". But I can use the same argument as above; too many are ignorant of subjects such as mental illness and will therefore fail to see the "satire", and will, mistakenly, see the sketch as "depicting the truth."

Unfortunately, the comedy sketch reinforces the myth that mental illness causes a sufferer to be violent; which of course is not true.

Mark Davies, Rethink's director of communications, in a letter to Ofcom said: "There is no causal link between mental illness and violence. In fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims than  the perpetrators of violence.

"By inferring that people with mental illness are violent, the Frankie Boyle sketch was misleading. One in four people have a mental health problem at some point in their lives. This sketch caused offence to many people in this group."

Speaking as someone with a mental disorder, it worries me that laughs are being derived from the ignorance   in believing there is a causal link between violence and mental health problems. It worries me that Boyle's sketch could help to reinforce stigma towards mental illness.

What do you think?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The FYM 'Creative Bank'

The Free Your Mind Creative Bank was created with the intention of showcasing creativity - including art, poetry, videos, poetry, etc. - related to mental illness or FYM.

The Creative Bank will be constantly updated. And we more than welcome contributions; email us at freeyourmindcampaign@gmail.com.

The latest additions are:

New poem...
This doesn’t make any sense,
Why are they still shouting at me?
Their anger is unclear
And their motives seem strange

My vision is blurred
As I look through stormy eyes

There is no doubt I’ve done nothing wrong
And in my heart I know they’re afraid.

They want to make me feel ashamed
And deny our similarities
But right now I feel as if I’m gazing at their souls.
Whilst they continue to stare straight through me.

My skin is thicker than it looks
My pride is hard to infiltrate

My body and mind are tired
My fight and will remain strong

My defences are raised
As they declare war.

There is no doubt
That they will batter me to the ground.
But at the core I shall remain