Thursday 13 December 2012


Imagine a time and a place in the future where people with a mental illness can choose which psychiatrist they go to and choose where they go for treatment and care - and where that choice isn't confined to the NHS but includes private and third sector provision too.

Quite a thought, eh? It could really shake things up not just because patients could get the help they want but mental health practitioners and services would be compelled to take notice of patients' wishes instead of just saying "here it is - take it or leave it" (or, if the patient is subject to the Mental Health Act, "take it whether you like it or not"). Patients could vote with their feet and services would have to work really hard to provide courteous, respectful, and effective services - because if they didn't they would go out of business.

"And what is the point of this day-dreaming about building Jerusalem, Bill?" I hear you ask. But it isn't a dream. That place is called England and the time when it happens is April 2014: see the story here.

Come on, Welsh Government, don't get left behind. You've done a good job with the Mental Health Measure but - read my lips - YOU WILL NEVER ACHIEVE EXCELLENT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IF YOU DON'T GIVE PATIENTS CHOICE AND CONTROL OVER THEIR TREATMENT AND CARE.


England's unofficial anthem "Jerusalem" is of course by William Blake who had some symptoms of schizophrenia, in particular vivid visions which he ascribed to God. Many of his contemporaries thought he was mad but the conventional wisdom these days is that he was just a genuine free thinker ahead of his time. I think he was probably both...

The music to which Blake's poem is set is by Sir Hubert Parry. I would like to be able to tell you that Parry was Welsh - and indeed many people think he was because of the name and because there are so many famous Welsh composers of hymns - but he wasn't.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land