Malcolm argues for the involvement of people in the their own treatment
Debate on the "see me" campaign against stigma associated with mental ill health Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):

Malcolm speaking with the book "Oor Mad History" in his handsMalcolm Chisholm in October 2010, at the launch of "Oor Mad History", a community history of the Mental Health Service users movement in Edinburgh & Lothian I, too, congratulate Jackie Baillie on bringing this important debate to the Parliament. Even more, I congratulate the see me campaign on all its work during the past eight years to fight the stigma and discrimination that have, for centuries, been associated with mental ill health and which make mental health problems so much worse than they already are. It is appropriate to pay particular tribute to Linda Dunion, who was the campaign's first director and who led and championed it for many years. She has been ably succeeded by Suzie Vestri.

Members talked about the successes that can be attributed to the campaign. More people are open about mental health problems and there has been improvement in some of the media handling of the issue. However, we know that we still have a long way to go to spread understanding of mental ill health and encourage the empathy that is so often lacking.

Like Hugh Henry, I mention Anne McLaughlin's speech. It was exceptional in its totality, but I pick out what she said towards the end about fault, which goes near to the heart of the problem. Historically, many people have regarded people with mental health problems as being at fault and somehow to blame. If that attitude can be undermined, that will be an important step forward, and the see me campaign has contributed to that.

However, there are no grounds for complacency. I welcome SAMH's new campaign, dismiss, which highlights the seriousness of the problem. At a time when people are looking to reduce the workforce in all sorts of areas, there is a danger that employers might regard people with mental health problems as easier to lay off. We must be careful in relation to employment, so I welcome the campaign.

A related issue is benefit changes. Many people with mental health problems are worried that they might not be regarded as having a genuine problem. Problems to do with people's potential to take up employment, which can be obvious and apparent in people who have physical disabilities, are just as real for people with mental health problems, in some cases.

The campaign can be seen as being part of two wider movements. First, it was part of a big initiative on mental health improvement, which was led by Gregor Henderson in the early years of the Parliament. Campaigns such as the one on suicide prevention and many other initiatives, such as mental health first aid and the Scottish recovery network, developed as part of the mental health improvement initiative. I always think that it is unfortunate that, in all the excellent work that the Parliament has done on health improvement, some of which is recognised far afield, the mental health improvement work has not been generally recognised. It is appropriate to set the see me campaign in that context.

The other context is the wider mental health users movement. The key thing about see me is to treat people with mental health problems with dignity and respect. The idea of allowing people with mental health problems to be involved in decisions about their care and to be listened to with respect in relation to their care is important. That should be acknowledged.

I have a particular interest in the matter this week because, on Friday, "Oor Mad History: A Community History of the Lothian Mental Health Service User Movement" is being launched in my constituency. I was honoured to be asked to write a foreword and I will speak at the launch. I am certainly aware from the work that people have done in Lothian that significant progress has been made on the wider front in relation to respecting people with mental health problems. It is appropriate to mention that and to see the see me campaign as part of a wider movement for change and improvement.

Motion S3M-6705, in the name of Jackie Baillie, on the see me campaign: That the Parliament considers that the see me campaign has made a significant contribution in tackling the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems; further notes that it is estimated that as many as one in four Scots will experience some form of mental health problem and that more than half of those with such conditions have experienced stigma or discrimination; recognises that the stigma associated with mental health problems can be more distressing and damaging than the symptoms of the condition itself; believes that it will take a generation to effect lasting change in society, and would welcome continued support for the see me campaign in Dumbarton and across the rest of Scotland.

Visit the Consultation & Advocacy Promotion Service web site to learn more about the views of mental health service users >>>
September 29th 2010, (Column 29076-8)