Mind responds to BBC documentary Why Did You Kill My Dad?
Posted Monday 1 March 2010
Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"We deeply sympathise with all the families included in this powerful documentary. To lose a loved one in such distressing circumstances is tragic but the public should be reassured that such cases are incredibly rare.
"Around 1.2 million people receive treatment from secondary mental health services (1). The huge majority are not dangerous and just want to live their lives like everyone else. Sadly, stigma and misunderstanding about mental health problems prevents many from receiving this most basic right.
"Public misunderstanding combined with individual fear about mental health problems makes it incredibly difficult for people to tell their family, friends, colleagues about their distress at an early stage. This can also prevent them from getting the help they need quickly.
"As we enter a general election campaign, we need to start a proper conversation about mental health in this country, one that sets the issues in context. The link between violence and mental health problems is exaggerated. There are around six stranger homicides by people with mental health problems a year (2), yet over a third of the public think that people with mental health problems are prone to violence (3). This is hugely disproportionate to the actual risk. In fact, research shows that people with a mental health diagnosis are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators (4).
"The common thread in all the cases in this programme is the failure of mental health services and other agencies to work together to engage people who have complex multiple needs and the failure to learn lessons when mistakes have been made. We cannot allow inquiries to be mere tokenism; there must be visible action when recommendations are made and best practice should be shared by agencies across the country.
"As we approach the election, we urge the main political parties to put mental health issues on an equal footing with physical health issues and demonstrate how they intend to deliver a mental health service that the public and patients can have faith in.
(1) The Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2009, Mental Health Bulletin, Second report on experimental statistics for Mental Health Minimum Dataset (MHMDS) annual returns, 20032008.
(2) National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness – Annual report: England and Wales, 2009
(3) Attitudes to mental illness 2009, Department of Health
(4) Walsh E et al. 2003, Prevalence of violent victimisation in severe mental illness, British Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 183, pp. 233238.