The letter of the law

Question of the day. Why do mental health professionals believe they are above the law?

It definitely is that way when it comes to staff on mental health wards. They believe they have the ultimate power to do what they like when they like to the patients under their care.

On the ward I was on just a few weeks ago, I was calmly minding my own business in the quiet room when out of nowhere 7 staff, yes SEVEN staff members came into the room demanding that I hand over my phone to them.

Apparently someone on Twitter (I believe to be another BEH ward manager) had called up the ward as they didn’t like the fact that I was talking about my experiences.

I was told by the lead nurse that my tweeting was illegal! I asked whether he knew what I was tweeting and he said no. I was happy to show them the tweets, but they were intent on making this a mob like coercion. A mentality used all too often on this ward.

These seven staff included nurses. Mental health nurses. An RMN officially goes through 3 years of training and examinations to be able to do the job of caring for people. Instead, somehow they use their collective [brute] force to try attack patients in a way which is unacceptable and illegal. They treated me in a way which nobody should be treated

Had this event happened on the streets, the people involved would be arrested in violation of attempted theft and had they actually taken the phone by force, Common assault (s.39 Criminal Justice Act 1988) and Theft (the Theft Act 1968).

I stood my ground and refused to hand my phone to the bullies. Ironically they went away when they thought I had recorded the incident. I wish I had.

To be on a locked ward with constraints on what you can do was one thing. But to then be shouted at and threatened with restraint so that they could take away the only belonging you own that helps keep you in touch with the outside world? That’s just twisted. Or if we’re going down the Line of Duty route – bent!

The Human Rights Act 1998 and the Mental Health Act 1983 are both statutory laws governing the way in which people should be treated. I could go into more detail but don’t want to bore you too much. The very basics are that every person has the right to live and go about their daily business without being treated inhumanely.

As a law student, I learnt thousands of statutes and tens of thousands of case law by heart for exams. And what do these mental health nurses know? I asked the ward manager whether he knew the articles of the Human Rights Act and he just deflected the question saying that I don’t know every law. I never claimed to do so. But if I were working in mental health, I’d be sure to know what I can and can’t do. And intimidation, coercion and bullying? You shouldn’t even need to have a law to remind you. It’s basic.

So for all those mental health professionals who believe they are above basic morals and the law, I hope to god that one day you will pay for your actions. I will meanwhile do my very best to ensure that people get to know about what is happening behind those locked ward doors. I will keep writing so that I stop what happened to me, happening to anyone else. I can only hope and pray that you look long and hard at what you do for your work and maybe if you can’t treat people in a civil manner, try a job that doesn’t involve other living beings (including plants. Note – even cacti will die under mistreatment…)

Ps sorry about the Line of Duty references. I am a fan as you may have realised. And there are so many parallels between the bent coppers and bent nurses it’s alarming. Now I just need a few burner phones to hand to them when they demand I give my phone in 😅

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