I found out about this via a link from Mental Patient About Town‘s ever-excellent blog.
A recent survey has found that attitudes towards those with mental health problems are hardening. Apparently, 15% of people now feel that people with MH problems don’t deserve sympathy. 17% feel that there needs to be no increase in toleration for those of us with MH problems. 11% of people feel that society does not have a responsibility to provide the best possible care to the mentally ill, and 17% feel that increased spending on MH services is a waste of money. In all cases, these figures are getting worse.
It seems to me that a lot of this is the direct result of the propaganda the government and the papers have been pumping out over recent times. There’s been a concerted campaign to portray all of us who receive Incapacity Benefit as layabout scum. Although a lot of the high profile scandals have focussed on physical health issues, a lot of the wider comment has been about people with MH diagnoses. The problem I’ve been diagnosed with – depression and anxiety – has been widely called into question as a valid “excuse” for not working.
I don’t think there’s a conscious intention behind this to make life harder for the mentally ill. The government are weak, not evil. They saw a chance to manufacture a “scandal” they could then “resolve,” thus proving how “tough” they are. But the consequence of this has been to make people suspicious of those of us with MH problems, to make them question whether we really are ill, whether our suffering is real. In this climate, it doesn’t really surprise me that the public mood is turning ugly.
I’m trying not to get too depressed by this. I’m trying to remind myself that, if 15% of people feel I don’t deserve sympathy, then that means the overwhelming majority – 85% – do. I’m trying to remind myself that there are people worse off than me, people who are sicker, people who haven’t even had their illness recognised.
Like I say, I’m trying. But sometimes it just seems like too much. It sounds pathetic to say it, but just living is a struggle for me. Just doing the basic everyday things comes so hard to me. I try to keep going, I try to keep struggling, I try to keep pushing, but then, on top of all that, I have to deal with crap like this. That nearly 1/6th of people don’t think I deserve their sympathy, let alone their compassion, let alone their respect.
Sometimes it’s just too much.