Tuesday, 6 October 2009
MIND: The Interview and the Result
Well, I didn't get the job. Consolingly, I came second. The person who got it was more experienced in the voluntary sector. Ah, well. We live to fight another day. However, now that I didn't get the job I can speak a little about it.
MIND as a charity do a lot of good work, advocating on behalf of people suffering mental health problems and raising awareness of mental health. After the interview I was asked whether I had any questions and I wanted to know more about the organisation. The reason being that with so many attacks on those suffering from mental health problems, from David Cameron's desire to see people on Incapacity Benefit go back to work or else, to the Labour Government's obvious assisted suicide agenda, I wanted to know how MIND felt about the increasing pressures on those with mental health issues.
"I was," I told them, "the only person at the Brighthelm Centre challenging Dr Philip Nitzchke on his campaign to see more people kill themselves," primarily it would appear, by illegally purchasing deadly pharmaceutical products or by putting bags over their heads. How did MIND feel about the increasing culture of suicide and do they challenge the Government, as an organisation who defend some of the most vulnerable people in the community?
Their answer was a little surprising. When I told them about Dr Death, one of the interviewers turned to the other and said, "Oh, him. You know the one who caused all the furore in Brighton this year." Clearly, MIND Brighton had no official response to the fact that a man wanted to sell kits which would make killing yourself easier, just 30 seconds away from the local YMCA, housing some of Brighton's inhabitants with high incidence of mental health problems.
She then said, "Well, MIND don't really take a moral line or challenge the Government or campaign in that way. We are more into rights. So we advocate on behalf of people to get access services they need."
"But," I said, "What about the increasing pressures that society and in part, the Government is also putting on those who suffer dementia? These are vulnerable people who MIND advocate for, so are the organisation campaigning against these new trends in society to defend these people."
Again, the answer was neutral and amoral. MIND, one of the leading front line services in Brighton do not have a policy or a campaign against the rising tide of pro-suicide trends emanating from Government and a relativistic society. On reflection, I have to say that although MIND do a lot of good work in the community, the organisation is suffering from the relativism which so dogs British society, which, in the past few days alone has claimed three lives of vulnerable adults and even teenagers in despair. I thought this was rather incredible - that MIND could not bring themselves to challenge the Government or defend in policy those most vulnerable from the onslaught against human life, because MIND work primarily with those living on the edge, many of whom have suicidal thoughts. How can a mental health charity be neutral on moves to make suicide more and more accessible?
Deep down, I suspect, that while MIND would consider every suicide a tragedy and work to prevent it, by outreach and by advocacy and by working with people suffering mental illness, that it may be the kind of organisation which is more into 'empowerment' and 'rights'. When it comes to the debates on suicide, assisted suicide and the rest, because they are unable to take a 'moral' line, the 'rights' line of thought wins out. Ergo, I expect that MIND err on the side of the 'right' to suicide.
Furthermore, the efforts to create a sense of 'empowerment', (which is, I might add, a good thing, because mental health patients are largely ignored and seldom have their voices heard) have led the organisation to focus a lot of time and money on the LGBT MIND OUT side of the organisation, aimed at empowering LGBT men and women with mental health problems. Obviously, sexual orientation, I know for one, can be a mental health hazard. Difficulties men and women experience in coming to terms with sexuality can be a cause of suicide, depression and illness, especially when family members reject them or even the loneliness, isolation and emptiness of the gay lifestyle.
All this I understand and all this I can empathise with. But, aside from the fact that I would have not felt that comfortable drawing up posters and taking minutes at the LGBT meetings for MIND, I couldn't help feeling that just lumping people who suffer on account of their sexuality into one group and saying, "You've all got sexuality-related mental health issues," or even, "You've got mental health issues and you happen to be gay, lesbian, transgendered or bisexual," is a little myopic and demeaning. For instance, it is well known that a lot of gay men don't like transexuals. Some lesbians don't like gays or transexuals and all three of them don't think very highly of bisexuals.
What was once a campaign to see 'stigma' 'stamped out' for those suffering mental health problems, becomes a campaign to see 'stigma' 'stamped out' for LGBT people, who, by the way, also suffer mental health problems. This is Brighton, though. The 'rainbow flag' is everywhere and although homophobic assaults do, every now and then take place, it is well known that the 'Gay Pride' celebrations close down much of Brighton every year. If ever there was a town where all the colours of the rainbow are accepted, this is it. Regardless, the LGBT phenomenom, which so often denigrates people's innate dignity has infected MIND as well. On one hand, the organisation are neutral on suicide and efforts to push assisted suicide, but they are vociferously for the strident and very political campaigning of the LGBT umbrella organisation.
Interesting, eh? The whole experience got me thinking. If as a Catholic, even as a Catholic who empathises profoundly with men and women who have suffered on account of their sexual orientation, I do not feel comfortable working for a mental health charity because of their stridently political LGBT agenda...in which charity or institution could I feel comfortable outside of the Church? And that, is a depressing thought...
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