For the third time ever (as far as I know), I have been blocked on Twitter. The first time was by a self-avowed racist who found me hard-going. The second was the violinist Anne Akiko Myers. But this time, today, I have been blocked by an organisation that calls itself Black Mental Health UK (hence BMHUK). And I am not the only one.
It started with this testimony from Genesis Elijah, which was shared by BipolarUK. In the video Genesis Elijah speak candidly about his experiences and perspectives dealing with mental health issues and treatment.
BipolarUK then shared this to others, including BMHUK, who call themselves a "human rights campaign group that that works at a domestic and international policy level to address the injustice in the way that the Mental Health Act is used against people from the UK's African Caribbean communities." So you would think that the video, which highlights some of the issues they supposedly talk about, would be of interest to them.
They first tried to remove themselves from the discussion. When asked why, they summarily blocked people. I can't speak for the others, but as someone who has had mental health issues in the past (and recently) AND as a member of the African and Caribbean communities, I can't help but feel enraged at this treatment. So I decided to look closer at BMHUK. I'm collecting my thoughts here for now; I may expand on these as I find out more.
Their Companies House listing makes for baffling reading. BMHUK is listed as a publisher of consumer and business journals. Although there is content on the site, it's through subscription only: the cheapest option is £20 for access to five articles over a week. It's impossible to assess the quality of the articles otherwise. This raises issues of access; something that (based on their interactions today) they don't care much about.
The campaigning they do is focussed mainly on injustices in mental health treatment. But I ask: who are they talking to? They seem very good at talking to politicians, which is needed. But in talking to the community directly there seems to be a disconnect. On their Facebook Page, another person asks about issues of access. BMHUK ignored them completely.
This (for me) is an issue of voice, and representation. As happy as the director is to speak to The Voice, or RT, it is us in our homes who have a variety of issues and perspectives that can be aired and discussed. That BMH chooses only to highlight dramatic cases rather than our lives unintentionally dehumanises, delegitimizes our experiences. Ty (who was one of the first to be blocked) quite rightly asked: who do they represent? I am not so certain it is us.
More here after I e-mail the director.