What is all this mental health heroics and baloney about? It’s driving me insane.
Walking back to sanity is the beyond parody advice from compulsive attention seeker Telegraph journalist Bryony Gordon, who is now setting up her own support group, dear God. It comes hard on the heels of political journalist Isabel Hardman’s public soul bearing. Alastair Campbell has a lot to answer for since he jogged his way back to his normal bullying self. The commentariat is at it again – not so much kissing and telling as crying and complaining – despite their luxury lives, top jobs and sympathetic employers –- about how terribly mental health is treated. What more do they want? Horse riding for all?
Who is to blame for this outbreak but Mrs May. It all began with a bad bout of post-Christmas anxiety as 2017 loomed. She needed to be loved. Her spin doctors ordered a dose of virtue-signalling as the cure.
Well, they thought, the Queen gives her Christmas message, so why doesn’t the PM give a New Year one? Dear God again, as Laura would say. So now we know she ‘cares’; and that she is aboard the Left’s ‘divided society’/Jo Cox political martyrdom bandwagon too. Well, I held my peace in the spirit of seasonal goodwill. Then came saintly Mother Theresa’s shared society vision last weekend.
It was too much.
The State is the problem not the solution. You know that already. Laura has explained it and I won’t labour it. But I did take exception to being lectured on sharing when we, the Brits, are the biggest givers in Europe – after the State has done a slab of sharing on our behalf – 43 per cent of the national income, to be accurate. How much more will be needed to achieve her fairer society? Unfortunately it didn’t occur to Sophy Ridge to ask. A fairer society! Life isn’t fair! You are a grammar school girl, don’t you understand? To invoke Melanie Phillips, we can’t all have prizes.
But no, I’d got it wrong. The shared society wasn’t going to be about the Third Way or Big Society or, my worst fear, a new round of class inequality policies after all. She meant sharing mental health – sharing our own and others’ mental health problems to be accurate; above all about ending that great evil, the Brits well known beastly attitude to the mentally ill – stigmatisation. Umm. Another discrimination that has passed me by.
Identity politics mark four – racism, sexism, homophobia and LGBT victimhood – and now a new ‘ism’ – mentalism? mental ill-healthism? I leave you dear readers to coin the term. In the meantime, beware ye of hard hearts. Thou shalt not treat the insane any differently from the sane. Thou shalt have a mental ill health work quota, and why not a boardroom one too. It is probably already filled …. you can already name the well-known ego freaks who‘ve make it to the top.
How very clever. Who could disagree with this benevolence? From the chronically depressed in Parliament to The Times (the newspaper that claims to have catalysed this cause), who won’t be lining up behind the PM or joining in the national breastbeating? Anyone listening to the Today programme would be convinced the country is already in a state of collective nervous breakdown, and that never mind the nanny state, a therapy state can’t come quickly enough.
Gosh, we don’t just need to be told when to go to bed and how much sleep we need (yesterday’s tax-funded exhortation), but how to wipe away our tears too, or to walk, or ride (for the rich ones) to get better. Above all don’t risk leaving common sense to mum. La la land.
Infantalisation soon really will drive us potty. ‘Self-pity’, even the ever-so-PC Stephen Fry agrees, ‘is the worst possible emotion anyone can have. And the most destructive’. Self-obsession is even worse.
So maybe Mrs May, instead of inviting people to feel hard done by, you might ask just why so many people feel sorry for themselves, are not coping or dependent on prescribed medication – anti depressants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotics and so on – in the first place? Wasn’t work and feminism meant to liberate women from madness and to give men a life of Riley? Why then are more and more men committing suicide and more and more girls self-harming?
Maybe, just maybe, the feminised, equalised, individualised, de-stigmatised and anti-phobia society we live in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
The idea that mental fragility needs de-stigmatising is a straw man argument. Brits are no more unkind than they are mean. But they can be driven mad by gesture politics when the real problems that wreck their lives go ignored.
The top of that list is the Government’s abject failure to do anything about the Southern Rail train strike – now well into its third month.
Maybe more action and less emotion Mrs May would be better advice from your spin doctors, before London’s southern commuters and their employers and families are finally driven to the edge of reason.
(Image: Joshua Brown)