Thursday, 9 October 2008

Radio 4 Woman's Hour and World Mental Health Day

I must be living on another planet. For some reason I didn't know that tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. Indeed today, in the USA, it's Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day. Amazing, two specific days dedicated to our mental health. Howcome therefore that no one knows about it?

Some time ago I was told that BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour wanted me to be a guest. Be an 'expert'. They were going to run, I was told, a series of programmes about mental illness. Well they did - this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday to be precise. On Tuesday there was, apparently, a programme dedicated to mental health issues and on Wednesday, a phone-in. The problem was that I wasn't informed about it, so didn't take part. A really wasted opportunity. I could at least have phoned in but I didn't know about the broadcast. I guess that I shouldn't be surprised. There's competition in this field too.

Tomorrow I'm doing my first talk to my GCSE group. I think that I'll bring up the fact that it's World Mental Health Day. I wonder how they'll feel about that? I suppose that my actually being at their school and speaking about Bipolar disorder and the effect that the condition has on families will be apposite. I just wonder what else is happening around the country. Increased funding for new psychiatric wards? Unlikely in this financial climate. A rethink as to what 'care in the community' should really entail? Again unlikely. Who wants to suggest that the job description doesn't fit what is actually a lie.

I suppose that someone once had the bright idea - sometime in 1992 I believe - that a day be dedicated to enlightening the public about mental illness. Doesn't look like it has succeeded too well, does it? So Radio 4 had the usual suspects in the studio - Ruby Wax et al - but it doesn't appear that there was too much depth to the discussion. Such a wide topic, it would take a week's worth of programmes to simply touch upon each symptom but that shouldn't stymie further broadcasts and they shouldn't simply take place during the week when the world is meant to be aware of madness.

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