Right!! – I recently started drafting a post, to be ready for next week – the one year anniversary of the blog. Given unexpected developments on the South Bank in London last night, I’m going to bring it forward slightly and combine it with a celebration of the blog’s first major, national recognition at last night’s Mind Awards, hosted by Stephen Fry.
Good parties have music, so you can open these three links in another tab or window to listen as you read – all songs that various people have told me they link to mental health:
- The Drugs Don’t Work
- Read All About It – Part III
- Don’t Back Down << I especially like this one, as I see it a positive stand and it has been referred to as “The Mental Health Cop” song, when I’ve mentioned it before.
MARK HANSON AWARD FOR DIGITAL MEDIA
Last night was, quite unexpectedly, one of the best nights of my life. There are only a few things that have come close to the feeling I had when my name was read as the winner of the Mark Hanson Award. My mouth went dry, my palms were sweating and my head began to melt as I wondered what on earth I was going to say to a massive audience at the British Film Institute at the South Bank. Normally, I can bang on at zero notice for hours about policing and mental health – I was barely able to hold the microphone and say thank you! The 2011 riots in Birmingham were less intimidating and overwhelming. << Yes, really!
I met so many people who were informed and inspired by the blog, as well as people who USE it to make the world a better place, that I can away confident that I have not yet understand the extent of its reach and of its application. There were some really senior people shouting when my name was announced – I have to mention Paul Jenkins from Rethink who was effusive! – and to receive the award from Mark’s wife, Clare Francis (pictured with me, above), added to the emotion of it all for me. Whilst my head was still spinning she was generous enough to seek me out and offer to help raise the profile of this blog yet further and she’s been an inspirational fund-raiser for Mind since Mark’s death just last year. Max Pemberton was one of this year’s Mind judges who was influential in lobbying for my work and read the short-listed nominees for this category.
Stephen Fry, president of Mind, said various things last night as he hosted the event that struck me – he outlined how people still need to be challenged about their assumptions. For example, in questioning why people who have achieved celebrity or even just have a comfortable and secure lifestyle would suffer from depression or anxiety? He pointed out, that to ask a rich person who never as to work again why they have mental illness when they can have no worries, is like asking a painter why they have cancer. “Mental health disorders” as he referred to conditions or illnesses, are things can afflict any of us. And actually, whether this comes around because of biology, psychology or sociology is almost besides the point: human experience is real.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2012 AWARDS
ONE YEAR ON
Wind back to the end of November 2011 and I’d been tweeting mental health content for a few months when it was suggested that I should write a blog … maybe providing me with the ability to say more or to say it in more detail, etc., etc.. I wasn’t that sure. I’d read a few police blogs, often written anonymously, and wondered whether it might come across as an attempt to be subversive as the others were? Writing about things where it may well be encouraging police officers to breach their local protocols because of a view – merely my own – that some of those protocols broke laws, literally. I still haven’t read very many joint MH protocols that actually get it right.
Actually, this is a blog that tries to be about rights, autonomy and respect for the rule of law.
So I started writing with no idea how it may develop, with no idea whether anyone would read it or whether it may prove useful to anyone at all. First and foremost, I had police officers in mind. By writing about my own work, I hoped I may save some colleagues hours of research and reading, summarising what they needed to know into consumable bits. I hoped to do this for both operational situations and for officers whose MH role was to go into partnership meetings with health and social care professionals. However, it seems the appeal is broader.
Highlights have included a few different posts that I want to remind you of:
- Twitter and Live Suicide Threats << Picked up by national media, where someone threatening to kill themselves was found and supported despite an absence of information about their identity or whereabouts.
- Who’s Protecting the Protectors? << Published only a few days before PC David Rathband took his own life. It was republished the day after his death and was read more in one day than any other post I have written.
- What We Need the NHS To Know << circulated in an NHS e-bulletin some months after it was written and has been accessed dozens of time most days since.
- The Senior Officers’ Checklist << circulated by the Police Superintendents’ Association to all 1,400 senior operational leaders in the UK police service.
It is obvious that a few of the references pieces I’ve written have proved very useful:
- What Do All The Sections Mean? << A quick vomit of MHA sections – a summary of what they might mean.
- Police Ranks and Roles Explained << An indicative guide for the public and non-police colleagues to help understand how we organise ourselves and what those shoulder insignia mean!
PLANS FOR YEAR TWO
What I want to focus upon in Year Two is making the thing more usable and getting into other media by which the get the message across – vlogs and apps. I still intend to use the blog and twitter to host and circulate the materials, but to make them accessible in other ways. That way, I can build up a pod of training materials which I hope to make usable across criminal justice and health / social care. I am absolutely determined that during 2013 there will be a free “MentalHealthCop App” for iPhones or SmartPhones. Combining the blog, Twitter and some important operational guidance for cops. I just need to work out the money and there are some plans a foot for that.
Finally, a complaint!! >> Sometimes, I get a quick idea for a blog and I take 20 mins to bash it out without much effort and it does really, really well. A few of them are mentioned, above. Other times, I have had blogs in preparation for days or weeks, conducting loads of research to get them right and they crash! Here are a few of those I have really enjoyed writing and researching which get right into the heart of what I’m trying to argue for … that I wish had been read a touch more!
- Should We Have To Do This?
- RAVE Risks and Litter Collection
- Mad, Bad or Sad
- Not In The Public Interest
Thanks for ALL your support, your interest and your use of this material. I wouldn’t still be writing it, if no-one was reading it, so I’m grateful to you all.
The Mental Health Cop blog won the Mind 2012 Digital Media Award, in memory and in honour of Mark Hanson.
The Awards celebrate the “best portrayals of and reporting on mental health in the media.”