Mental Health is inextricable from politics, as the recent United Nations report on the impact of UK Government austerity measures demonstrated. Political perspectives on empowerment are revealed by the language used. In a policy contribution to the Labour Commission on Mental Health many months ago, I briefly raised a point about a specific  phrase used in negotiating treatment for mental health problems. 

Compliance. 

There is no denying that successive UK governments for some years have failed to deliver holistic policies for ensuring the good health of the people. We find ourselves in something of a mental health crisis. It is morally unacceptable, and unhelpful, for a state which has reneged on its duties to its citizens to attempt to impose a one sided deal. 

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“Compliance” is a particularly paternalistic phrase used regarding treatment that inhibits cooperation between providers and suffering individuals. “Compliance” is a symptom of unhealthy power dynamics. 

Progressives especially have no business trying to get others to “comply”. To DEMAND deference and bourgeois decorum belongs to a bygone age. Fortunately, new brooms are sweeping clean. The revolution, as always, is in the head, for those with compassionate circuitry.

Compliance?

Having made the point about this odd phrase, I must say that the psychologists of Camden & Islington Mental Health team have been great. Waiting times are an issue but that isn’t their fault. Jeremy Corbyn has raised the problem of waiting times for mental health consultations several times during the Labour Leadership campaign. 

Corbyn and some others within the Labour Party who have the PRIVILEGE that enables them to set an ever compassionate example are leaders to cherish. There is a genuine conversation to be had about creating a society of greater mutual respect. For sure, you don’t create respect by mass exclusion. Tribal “us and them” politics is dead for the left. Or the left will wither, with horrific consequences. 

Note that Labour rules covering social media reference “foul and abusive language.” Clichés often enable lazy thinking. Britain swears. There is practically no word that cannot be pronounced after nine o clock on national television. Our MPs often swear. Our SPADS swear. A lot. 

Abuse, especially online abuse, is a complex and sensitive issue. “Foul” language? Get thee to a monastery. 

Hypocrisy, invasiveness, and thoughtless squeamishness has no role to play in the solutions to the UK’s problems. It is a part of them. We must set our house in order. Labour is already at a remove from the country. Those who won’t play fair will find themselves even further removed soon enough. 

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