"Disturbed" and "evil" are just two of the words used to describe Martin Davies, who was recently detained indefinitely for the fatal attack on a 66-year-old woman in Wales.Well, that’s hardly surprising.
It is, in fact, very rare for someone with a mental illness to commit serious crime, but the public fear is disproportionate.Hmmm, let’s try that again:
‘It is, in fact, very rare for a dog to maul a child to death, but the public fear is disproportionate.’
‘It is, in fact, very rare for a drunk driver to run someone down in the street, but the public fear is disproportionate.’
Now, both of those statements is as true as Mikey’s, but that doesn’t mean that we should shrug our shoulders and accept that a few dead toddlers or pedestrians is the price we pay for having cars and pet dogs.
It means that we ensure that where possible the risk to others is considered at all times.
Something that apparently (we are still awaiting the inevitable inquest in the Martin Davies case) wasn’t judged correctly in this case.
Davies was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but this kneejerk branding of those suffering mental illness simply fuels stereotypes rather than educating the public.‘Branding’..? It was his illness. It was what he suffered from.
What else should people call it?
Much of this negative stigma comes from the media and their sensationalist headlines. It is actually much more common for people with mental health problems to be victims of violence, abuse and hardship than the perpetrators.So, even more important that they be judged and held securely if they are a risk to themselves and others.
Mental illness is frightening, for those going through it as well as their friends and families.It was pretty frightening for their victims too…
My own experience of mental illness has given me some insight into this, and has made me a better person.Oh, good. How nice for you, Mikey.
The negative stigma around mental illness largely comes from a lack of knowledge generally about what it is, added to a lack of understanding around the process of sectioning. Although necessary in many instances, sectioning itself – which is in place to protect individuals and society – does not help relieve the stigma attached to mental health.But it’s sometimes necessary.
When people are admitted to hospital, the intention is always to return that person home in the shortest possible time.And that’s a good intention. And we all know where that particular paved road can sometimes end up, eh?
Care in the community can hold significant benefits for patients and recent changes to the Mental Health Act are aimed at improving fairness, identifying treatability and being able to more flexibly retain some community treatment rights and responsibilities for certain individuals.But care in the community only works where both ‘care’ and ‘community’ exist…
Being surrounded by a support network is important as an aid to recovery. My family and support network have allowed me to manage my illness and have a successful career in the NHS.When I’ve joked about them putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum, I never thought it would actually happen…
As a trust, we grabbed the opportunity to be a part of tonight's documentary, Sectioned, to raise these issues, tell stories and champion the issues of great human interest as demonstrated by the three men focused on in the programme, all of which have been initially sectioned.Well, it’s nice that you’ve got some publicity out of this, Mikey.
And I see a lot of mentions of yourself, and of Martin Davies, throughout this article, but you know what’s missing?
The name of his victim. Her name was Gwen Poole, by the way.
Let’s hear from Gwen Poole’s relatives:
In a statement to the court, Mrs Poole's son Ian said: 'To see my mother on the doorstep holding her side saying she had been stabbed will live with me forever.I can’t blame them for that.
'A son should never have to go through this and see a mother's life ebbing away in front of them.
'My mum was dying on the floor in front of me.'
He added: 'The repercussions of one man's actions have totally devastated this family. We pray someone so evil who can take our mother's life will not be allowed to walk the streets again.'
And I can’t see them as collateral damage in the war to ensure absolute freedom for people whose illness may make them very, very dangerous indeed…
As Mark Wadsworth points out (vias email), that can affect all kinds of people.