Friday 18 February 2011


I know from long acquaintance and discussion with people with a serious mental illness that many still doubt the possibility that they will ever be listened to concerning the management of their illness and of their wider needs. Such is their low expectation that the best they dare hope for is some benign intervention on their behalf by, for example, organisations like Hafal. It is difficult to engage those with such low self-esteem in fighting for their rights though there is a rapidly-growing group of Hafal Members who believe they can change things, drawing inspiration from the significant successes of our campaigning, all of them made possible by the involvement and indeed leadership of people with personal experience.

Anybody still doubting that people who have long been oppressed by authorities who "know better" can win through might draw inspiration from the people across the Arab world who are finding their voice to such revolutionary effect. They have discovered that their oppressors rely on the cooperation of the oppressed and so it is always possible to change things if people have the will. I sincerely believe that people with a mental illness can make change happen if they choose and the challenge for them is therefore to identify that choice and find the confidence to make it.

A technical-sounding but actually most important opportunity for people with a mental illness to effect change is upon us now. Very shortly we should see the draft regulations for the Mental Health Measure including the proposed format for the Care and Treatment Plans which all secondary mental health patients will have a right to when the Measure comes into force. Hafal will also be providing a briefing including suggestions to improve the Regs if they aren't sufficiently robust.

WAG is organising a series of events to consult on the Regulations as follows:-

events particularly for service users and carers...

7 March - Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
11 March - Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea
17 March - Management Centre, Bangor
23 March - Town Library, Haverfordwest
1 April - AVOW, Wrexham

events that are open to all...

10 March - WAG offices, Merthyr Tydfil
16 March - The Assembly Rooms, Llandudno
18 March - WAG offices, Aberystwyth
24 March - Hill House, Carmarthen
28 March - ECM2, Port Talbot
30 March - Glyndwr University, Wrexham

You can book your place at one of the consultation events by completing and submitting a form which is available from: or ask at any Hafal project for help - they have the forms and other details and can submit your request for a place if you want.

If you are attending and would like to see Hafal's briefing in advance just email us or you will find it in due course here - it will come out shortly after we get the draft Regs from WAG.

Hafal will also be consulting through all its project meetings and carer groups so that we can convey a clear and comprehensive message back to WAG.


A reminder that those in authority are no better than the rest of us may be found in the President of Tunisia's wife Leila Ben Ali's words to her husband as they fled the country ignominiously:

"Monte, imbécile, toute ma vie il aura fallu que je supporte tes conneries!"

("Get on the plane, imbecile, all my life I've had to put up with your screw-ups!").

It is heartening to know that during all those years of oppressing his people he was getting some of this from his eloquent better half (picture below) each evening as he got home from the office.