Police cutting back on mental health calls shows how badly we…
Instead of systems that often abuse those who need support, we need to imagine and find genuine alternatives. This will take much longer than the three months that the Met provided medical and social services, and require much more than the current broken healthcare system can provide.
What do the alternatives look like? There are already many organizers and groups exploring how we can do things differently, the groundwork for which has been laid by years of transformative abolitionist work within the mentally ill survivors and beyond. Crisis houses or Soteria houses, for example, are a relatively well-known and somewhat formalized example of “non-coercive” community-based crisis assistance, where the goal is to create a place of refuge based on the idea of standing next to people and maintaining their autonomy instead of subject people to a system of care in which they have little say or choice. User-led mental health community groups organize and deliver peer support, self-help and more under the radar in a variety of contexts across the UK, addressing needs unmet by traditional mental health services (or charity) in ways that they know. work better for them and their community.
In addition to community-led care, we also need to think about building systems in society that create conditions in people’s lives that make them less likely to face a crisis. Successive governments have viewed people suffering from mental illness, distress, or trauma as a “social problem” to be addressed rather than responding to underlying causes such as poverty, inequality, and deprivation. We could think, for example, of how this government is building up anti-poverty powers in the form of “anti-begging” measures, rather than patching up the gaping holes in the social safety net that have allowed so many people to fall through the cracks into poverty. UK austerity, from housing to education, has deprived people of the means of support that enable people to lead prosperous lives and pushed more and more people into crisis. Reversing these cuts and reducing the power given to the police to deal with their effects should be the first steps towards rethinking mental health care.
In essence, what needs to happen after this rejection is an urgent rethinking of how we respond to people in crisis, one that focuses on care, choice, and dignity, and ensures that the needs of people in crisis are met. health.
Jessica Pandian is an INQUEST policy and research specialist.
Amy Wells is the Communications Manager at NSUN.