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.

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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.

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It’s time to start speaking to children about mental health

Last week marked the final hearing in the joint inquiry into the role of education in children’s mental health.

Among the issues discussed in the inquiry were awareness, training for teachers and support for pupils. 

I want to focus on that first point. Awareness.

Read this article in the independent.

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In my corner

When the madness kicks in and you’re about to fall off life’s little raft again, it’s a seriously lonely place to be. In fact, when you get to that point you’re no longer paddling, you’re fiercely bobbing under the waves, gasping for breath and swallowing a shit load of toxic water.

Anxiety is a bitch.

I’ve never been shy about it, but I have felt ashamed of it. It confuses reality with fear. Fear of what could become reality. You doubt your mind, your ability, your reality. And you start to wonder if the one thing you should fear is actually yourself.

Combining anxiety with real life problems is more than a bitch. It’s an evil wailing banshee with medusa’s hairstyle and Cruella de Vil’s painted talons scraping loudly down a blackboard.

The noise and commotion becomes so much that you can’t separate the two.

Until, that is, somebody pulls you back onto your life raft, points you away from the storm and gives you the chance to look at the horizon with a clearer perspective.

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It REALLY couldn’t happen to a nicer…globetrotter

For my latest Standard Issue piece, I interviewed a very good and fabulous friend….

Rosie Willan has dived with great white sharks. Rosie Willan has anxiety.

She didn’t accidentally fall in the sea by the way. She chose to be trapped in a cage underwater in close proximity to a living breathing death machine (sorry shark fans – I grew up watching Jaws). You can bet Lemony Snicket’s anxious Aunt Josephine wouldn’t do that – she’s terrified of leeches, never mind sharks.

Kind of funny that Rosie isn’t fazed by sharks. Sometimes she’s terrified of her own body. And that’s much smaller and less frightening than a shark’s. But sometimes it does strange things. It can make her heart beat too fast and make her short of breath. For Rosie, that’s far more frightening.

Continue reading this article on Standard Issue

It REALLY couldn’t happen to a nicer…writer

How lush to interview a big inspiration, the fabulous Claire Eastham of hugely popular blog We’re all mad here for my Standard Issue column….

claire-easthamDid you see that girl, Claire Eastham, on This Morning last year, addressing the nation live with talk of her apparent ‘social anxiety’? FAKE NEWS! All this mental health bollocks. Everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon.

As if anyone with crippling social anxiety would even dare do that without breaking down into a blubbing mess live on TV. Social anxiety? My arse!

Of course that’s not really what’s on my mind. It’s more the injustice of that kind of thinking. And Claire – a seriously successful mental health blogger and author – knows only too well that there’s still stigma attached to mental illness.

“I think people expect me to be a nervous wreck,” she says, “Lots of people have social anxiety and still function. It’s just that sometimes they might need extra support.”

See the full article on Standard Issue

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It REALLY couldn’t happen to a nicer…Comedian

a_tozerheadshot1Remember that duvet cover from the 80s with the sad clown? That clown was Pierrot. He might have made people laugh but, inside, he was hiding a terrible pain. A pain caused by his unrequited love for Columbine, who, as far as I can tell, had the hots for Harlequin.

Pierrot wasn’t really born in the 80s; he was actually appearing in French and Italian pantomimes hundreds of years back. The sad clown. A mask hiding an unrequited love….

I recently read a book about somebody else who makes people laugh and lives with an unrequited love. An unrequited love for alcohol.

Amber Tozer is a US comedian and writer, and she will tell you now, no matter what she invested in her relationship with alcohol, she got nothing back. Zero. Nada. Because, in fact, alcohol had the hots for destruction…

Click here to read the full article on Standard Issue