I've had to turn down offers to speak about in2gr8mentalhealth at conferences in Tokyo and LA, because they won't cover flights and accommodation. Unfortunately, it seems only rich people are able to take destigmatising messages globally in mental health. Behind this is a further problem: when you breakdown, it doesn't just break your defences, it breaks your bank because you can't work for a while. Those who continue to struggle find it hard to be able to work, and yet their 'lived experience' is desirable now to mental health policy makers who want them as consultants...but for free! No Any consultants who can give valued input in business dont consult for free unless they can actively afford to do pro bono work. I make sure I'm paid if I'm asked to speak, and the rest I'm building up slowly. If i didn't have the family that I have, I would have been homeless when I lost everything, and I am so grateful. I hope to build up enough to move out as soon as I can. At a recent British Psychological Society conference I helped to chair this week on the NHS Long Term Plan, we focussed in the afternoon on homelessness, but the spectre of this is not outside of our very own professional room. The upshot, when it comes to voluntary grass roots projects like In2gr8, which have had an impact on shifting stigma in the professional mental health scene, is that the traction of the work and the destigmatising messages are limited only due to money, this doesn't seem ethically correct. Therefore, a wider audience don't get to hear about movements that can and have really helped destigmatise, from the very people who have the lived experience of doing so. Those with lived experience in these situations are discriminated against because they are poorer and have to be busy making ends meet rather than help change stagnant minds that hurt others. This is why money needs to attach itself to things that are of value to humankind's wellbeing, just as equally as it might find it's way into the ranks of pop stars' private jet collections. Maybe if I had a private jet I could get to LA or Tokyo and help further!
If you want to lend me a plane and a hotel so I can help open up conversations about looking after and valuing lived experience of mental health problems in the mental health professions, it's firstname.lastname@example.org
We must always listen to where the silence is coming from in our many fora in #mentalhealth.
Dr Natalie Kemp
(and no, the Dr title doesn't mean I have money, please check your assumptions)