24/08/15 What will you be doing on the 3rd of September this year? 

Ok, let’s narrow it down a bit. What will you be doing at 6.30 in the evening on that date? 

Go on…have a think…
Isn’t that uncle…er…no…

Nothing?

Great – Walk a Royal Mile is the very thing to plug that aching void in your diary. 

You’re welcome. 

For those of you who don’t know, or have forgotten, the simple aim of this, very short, ramble is to get people talking. 

Challenging mental health stigma one conversation at a time.
It really is that straightforward. 
It’s important though, to remember that this isn’t a one way street. 

No.

We all have our prejudices that get in the way of getting along with folk. 

Many of you will be aware of the growth of ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitudes across social media. 

On one side we have your mental health punters – users of services – people with lived experience…
On the other (s) we have the professionals – social care, healthcare – primary and secondary (loosely speaking your GP is primary and hospitals and all their gubbins are secondary) – and then we have the voluntary sector – often known as the third sector. 

We exist in our separate silos – growing support from the people we see as our peers, but sadly, fermenting prejudice and, at times, hatred of THE OTHERS….
There isn’t a great deal of research, good or otherwise, in this area – but quality investigation would be no mean feat.

Imagine being presented with a questionnaire that asks,
‘Are you prejudiced against black, white, Eastern European, Muslim…and so on…folk?’
You’re a good, liberally minded sort, so you reply,
‘Of course not…some of my best friends are…well, no, they’re not, but they would be if…’

And yet…for example…let’s forget about the increased chance of being stopped and searched/ arrested/ along with a reduced chance of being offered private rented accommodation…

I was recently at a large conference looking at the human rights of people with mental health problems. 
One of the things we rapidly noticed was that folk from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were under represented at the gathering. 

I sat with one guy who appeared a bit agitated at the recent rebranding of these groups. 

‘They (?) call themselves BAME (see above) now…’

I’m guessing a lot of them (?) are referring to themselves as Oliver, George, Muhammad, Isabelle, Niamh and Noor…other names are available – but you get my drift.

Further into the conversation, this same guy explained that the absence of folk from BAME groups was down to the fact (?) that they (?) look after themselves. 

I asked him, words to the effect of, how can we, I, you possibly know that? 

He didn’t – and neither did I – although I suspect folk from all walks of life will have a similar need for mental health services. 

There was a recognition at the conference that there was more we all could be doing in this respect. 

Although there may be no or little intention behind it – we all discriminate. 

Not convinced? 

Imagine a typical social worker…
GP?
Psychiatrist?
Conservative MP? 

Were you aware that medical doctors are twice as likely – when compared with the general population – to take their own lives? 
…that some reports indicate that as many as a third of all social workers take antidepressants?

Have you ever considered there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’?

And that we have more similarities than differences? 

That often – I wouldn’t have the audacity to this was the case all the time – stigmatising actions are born out of ignorance and clumsiness – that often there is little or no malice attached to them? 

Walk a Royal Mile is an attempt to distill Walk a Mile the ramble into a single event – something that can be replicated time and again to demonstrate that…

PEOPLE ARE FABULOUS

For those of you who’ve followed the sacred ramble for any length of time, you’ll now this to be true. 
This is simple to say – but perhaps more challenging to put into action…

Prejudice – prejudging someone – need not necessarily be a bad thing…
Imagine meeting someone, from any walk of life, and believing that, before you’ve even started talking to them, they’re fabulous. 

Instead of looking at folk through the shit filter of negative discrimination – where you interpret everything they do and say accordingly, try these rose tinted spectacles where you’ll see…well, you’ll see something…someone entirely different. 

Don’t believe me? Go and read some more walkamile blogs – right from day 1 people have been, without wanting to overuse the word, fabulous. 

That said, I wouldn’t be naive enough to suggest there aren’t actions by people in power that are knowingly stigmatising against people with mental health problems and/ or other disabilities…

It’s pretty easy to come up with a shopping list of prejudice from recent governments – labour – conservative and liberals – that have singled out vulnerable folk time and time again. 
I’ll leave that to you to look up…

So, back to the 3rd of September. 
We have a new shiny website where you can sign up…

People – as I think I may have mentioned – are fabulous. 

Come along…even if you haven’t joined online, I’m sure we’ll find someone to walk with you. 

Take some time to have a chat with someone you don’t know. 

Walk a mile in their shoes.

Chris 

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This entry was posted in economy, government, inequality, kindness, mental health, social work, walking and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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