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HomeKathy GyngellKathy Gyngell: Big Mother May needs her head examined

Kathy Gyngell: Big Mother May needs her head examined


I’ll scweam and scweam until I make mythelf thick”. That’s what I thought of after listening to the hysterical demand for more attention to be paid to a modern day Violet-Elisabeth’s  ‘me, me, me’ mental health needs, towards the end of the Today programme yesterday.

Dare tell anyone to grow up and stop bellyaching about themselves and it’s you who’ll be censured. The mental health monster must be appeased at all costs, be it child, teen or adult.

Saint Theresa (of the traumatised, anxious and depressed) has just given the State’s seal of approval to this Bryony Gordon/Prince Harry catalysed social frenzy. With a phalanx of tortured celebs setting the scene, Mrs May now steps forward with a pledge to end ‘the burning injustice’ of mental health care; as defined by the State’s failure to date to manage our mental state from cradle to the grave.

Her plan to rectify this deficiency involves putting ‘mental health’ support into every school, making it easier for people with mental illnesses to sue employers who ‘discriminate’ against them (what a can of worms that will be) and a commitment to rip up the 1983 Mental Health Act – the one that is meant to protect the public from deranged people roaming the streets.

This, heralded as the biggest shake up of mental health policies in 30 years, reveals the Prime Minister as far from her Brexit best but at her statist worst. She is turning  ‘mental health’ into the latest identity politics issue and onto the already stifling equalities agenda. Putting herself at the helm as social justice warrior in chief, she has catapulted it to the top of the competing rights and victimhood charts. The thought police will have a field day.

But kind or caring it will not be. Whoever gave Mrs May her head on this needs their own head examining.

Virtue-signalling does not come cost free. Mrs May’s ‘anti-discrimination’ solutions to the purported collapse of the nation’s mental health comes at a high price – an ever more intrusive State and further erosion of our freedoms and self reliance (ironically the very qualities that our post-Brexit prosperity will depend on).

Rod Liddle, for once serious, warns there a ‘correlation between the seriousness with which we take our mental health and the degree to which we revel in trauma and diagnose stress as being part of an ever-expanding plethora of illnesses, and the prevalence of it in society’. He is right to.

Now, to give a legal status to this pathologising addiction is madness itself.

How soon before it becomes a hate crime not to defer to someone’s self identified or state identified mental health problem? And do employers need their residual freedom to deal with malingering or manipulative employees versus genuinely sick ones further straitjacketed? Are the police to add this new area of anti-discrimination law to their already over burdening ’social’ briefs? And what will be left of parental autonomy with state-trained mental health teachers acting as the new monitors of children’s sanity?

The images Mrs May’s proposals conjure up are frankly scary.

Yet she seems to have a remarkable confidence that the State has healing skills that its populace does not. Her speech to the party conference last autumn presaged this. The State exists, she said, to provide what individuals, communities and markets cannot. The question of what government should do and not do is fundamental. What Mrs May seems to forget is that the State is only as effective as the people who work for it.

They (state functionaries) only have one thing that people individually do not have – and that is the power of coercion.

That is what worries me about this state ‘reset’ of how we are meant to react to never-ending accounts of people’s failure to cope.  This weekend, for example, two more ‘victim groups’ were identified and added to a never ending list of the wretched non-coping stats we appear to lead the world in – boys being treated for eating disorders and poor women who are unsurprisingly (in the greater absence of men to rely on) more anxiety prone than better off ones.

I am not denying all this is evidence of social malaise. It is. Nor do I treat it lightly. But before we turn the snowflakes into a generation of state mental health dependents or consign lonely baby boomers to the permanent sick list, shouldn’t we be asking why, in one the safest and most affluent nations in the world, we’re so sad and screwed up?

Can ‘discrimination’ really be the cause? Or are the roots cultural ones, that the State is party to nurturing?

Mrs May might consider the unprecedented numbers of people today who live singly, who have never cohabited let alone married, and who no wonder are lonely and depressed! The cause? How about feminism and the poisoning of relations between men and women to the point they have no use for each other? Or those feminist-inspired State interventions that have marginalised men, ousted them from their social roles, and left children without fathers, identity or security, living in mother child units or ‘blended’ families, also known to be disastrous for their well-being?

Doesn’t Mrs May herself have to take some responsibility for the collapse of parental competence and responsibility? Successive governments’ tax and welfare policies designed to benefit the individual have overburdened and undermined the families children need.

Isn’t the disastrous ‘I just want her to be happy’ parenting syndrome, typical of today’s work-obsessed parents who’ve handed over their babies too young to third party and institutional child care, their futile attempt to make up for their absence, and the absence of proper family life?

Who is to blame for this but the glorious State and its ‘motherist’ attitudes – the prejudice against stay at home mothers implicit in the drive to get mothers back to work as soon as possible,  too soon for the  welfare of children, just  as psychiatrist Dr Arik Sigman warned.

Sadly none of this appears to part of Mrs May’s mental health agenda. Whatever the atomisation and alienation of society the State still is party to, it matters not, provided it is there to play nursemaid to our misery.

(Image: DFID)

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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