Stop using mental health as bait

We all love to boo a pantomime baddie, but that’s usually because they’re stealing a magic lamp or weaving destructive magic spells. We know it’s all made up and we know they’ll get their comeuppance. But yet again, Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan are enjoying the boos and hisses by taking their pantomime into real life. They’re baiting us with mental health stigma. Sadly, that’s not fictional.

MegaphoneBBC Question Time was a prime hook for the recent onslaught of mental health provocation with Katie Hopkins, rather predictably, tweeting:

‘Breaking news: it is possible to pay for mental health counselling privately if you save hard enough’.

Of course the mentally ill are fair game aren’t they. They’re bound to get upset and have a tantrum. That’ll get the Twitter engagement figures flying. That’ll land more controversial headlines.

It was much the same with Piers Morgan’s recent attacks on Will Young:

‘Will Young does not have PTSD. He has WNTS – Whiny Needy Twerp Syndrome.’

Mental health campaigner Denise Welch rightly called him out which resulted in more mud-slinging from the lovely Piers who called Denise a ‘publicity-starved bore’. Nice.

So why am I falling into the trap and talking about them some more? Because they already have the platform and the airtime. They already have the ears and eyes of millions of people. And they already have the power to influence. Sadly.

Continue reading

Pipe down Piers

There’s a charter for those who work in PR, marketing, accountancy and HR. It’s to promote responsibility. Yet celebrities – who have a much greater influence than I have, for example, in my PR role – don’t have to sign up to anything.

So it’s kind of about trust and good will. What would you do if you had such a powerful platform? If one tweet could reach millions? If you could completely change somebody’s day? Would you try to do something to help? Or would you ridicule those who do?

It’s ironic, really, that Piers Morgan accused Denise Welch of using mental health to raise her profile. He uses his nasty pantomime act to gain attention a la Katie Hopkins. I watched Good Morning Britain one morning on the TV in the gym. It was the interview with Nicola Thorp who was sacked for refusing to wear high heels.  It was deliberately provocative, of course. Does he really believe women should wear high heels or face losing their job? Whether he does or not it’s shocking. Shocking that he believes in something so blatantly sexist or, on the other hand, shocking that he is willing to peddle such shite to draw in the ratings in a cheap and nasty Jerry Springer show kind of way.

It’s Good Morning Britain. It’s mainstream telly. I’ve never watched it since leaving the gym that day.

But I couldn’t get off Twitter last night.

Continue reading

Review: Black Eyed Susan

So I was chuffed to bits that the wonderful Denise Welch allowed me to have a sneak peak of her forthcoming short film, Black Eyed Susan. Here’s my review.

As a mental health ambassador who has spoken publicly and at length about her battles with depression, it’s perhaps no surprise Denise Welch’s first project as a film producer brings the subject into focus.

Capturing every shade of a depressive relapse, Black Eyed Susan, the short film she has made with writer and director Nick Rowntree, explores the despair, the isolation, the darkness, the why.

black-eyed-susanIt chillingly portrays the front you put up before retreating from your friends and heading deep into its grip; the inability to see the detail in the world around you; the change in pace and the dissociation from time, before it becomes all-consuming and takes every last piece of energy, of self-worth.

Welch, perhaps best known for a lengthy stint in Coronation Street and a decade on the Loose Women roster, brings all of this to the screen with complete authenticity.

The plot of the film, which will undoubtedly be making its presence felt on this year’s festivals circuit, is one of deep-rooted psychological abuse. Of the torment experienced by a woman at the hands of a teenage boy who unexpectedly returns to taunt her and intrude on an otherwise happy life.

Read the full article on Standard Issue

If you like this, do give my blog a follow from the home page and check out my fortnightly column in Standard Issue