Disabling convention: does the UN CRPD fail to reflect mental health realities?

The publication of the Mental Health Act (MHA) Review has been greeted with consternation by many disability and survivor/user activists and groups. The Interim Report had made it clear that it would not follow the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities’ (UN CRPD) recommendations, and this was confirmed in the Final Report. As Simon Wessely states in his foreword:

“Some will point out that we have not gone as far as to recommend fully implementing the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), or to be precise, how that is interpreted by the Committee charged with its implementation. And they are right. We haven’t.”

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French braids

I’ve had some really bruising and hurtful encounters this week. Reflecting on them, they feel very connected, to me, to being a woman and a feminist, and navigating a profoundly misogynistic world. It’s compounded by being a mother and a feminist. It goes beyond the invisible labour I perform and am expected to perform, the gender roles I am expected (and expect myself) to adhere to, beyond pink and blue toys, beyond the gender pay gap. It goes deep into how we construct motherhood, the constraints we place on the role, the way we glorify it and fetishise it and punish those who do not make the grade.Read More »

More conversations, fewer conferences

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Photo c/o Pushing Up Daisies Festival. Skull cake: Thyme for Tiffin

I am, for my sins, a conference person. I organise, speak at and attend many mental health conferences every year. But this week, I went along to Pushing Up Daisies, a ‘community-grown festival’ around death and dying, in the beautiful Yorkshire market town of Todmorden. I came away reflecting that we need to rethink some of the conversations we are having around mental health.

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What we can learn from trans activism

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Image c/o Rachel Rowan Olive

The rights of trans people and the barriers and discrimination they face in accessing healthcare and public spaces are issues which are growing in visibility in the UK. Recovery in the Bin’s statement of support, partially motivated by the protest at Pride in London, has highlighted some of the rifts around this, present in both the survivor movements and the more mainstream mental health world. It’s a laudably clear and simple statement, and, on paper, should attract a wide range of support – but it’s struggled to do so. The fact that it explicitly condemns transphobia has been divisive, and this exposes, for me, some uncomfortable truths about our mental health world.

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