The Box Ticker

Aug 30, 2014

Complaint to the BBC regarding Mental Health Disableism in ‘Big School’

I wish to complain about the portrayal of the mental health problems experienced by the character Mr Barber in ‘Big School’, on 29/08/2014.

Stigmatised language is littered throughout the show. For example:  “Barber’s gone mental”, “How’s your lunacy?”, and “Oi, fruit loop”. The use of these terms further normalise a culture of harassment against people with mental illness. One character says “you can’t say that” in response, but this is little more than lip service and is dismissed by all. The joke is still very much at the expense of Mr Barber.

Mr Barber continuously displays ‘strange’ behaviour, such as eating a bun from a bin and misunderstanding a request from another character. In one anecdote - “They found him crawling round the playing fields, at night, naked from the waist down. He had a soil thermometer wedged in his….”. While unusual activity can be humorous in and of itself, if mental illness is implied to be the cause it serves only to reinforce prejudice. Mental illness is not synonymous with social and logical inappropriateness.

Following on from this, Mr Barber approaches the teachers through an open window, with the line:

“I’m starving, haven’t eaten since Tuesday, and that was a conker.”

He is then fed through the window, almost biting another character’s fingers. He is treated literally like an animal at the zoo. Given the history of those with mental health problems being presented in lunatic asylums and freak shows, and continuing to be subjected to subhuman treatment, this is incredibly offensive.

In another scene, Mr Barber approaches the Headteacher:

 “I just wanted to say a big thanks for giving me a second chance after my… interlude”

 “Well, sadly, these days one can’t sack someone for going… [SHE CACKLES MANIACALLY]”.

Mr Barber refers to his psychiatric crisis with embarrassment, and it is not questioned that he must apologise for it. The Headteacher is supposed to be an unpleasant character, but there is no opposition provided provided to her discriminatory view.

Additionally, Mr Barber appears only within the context of a “mentally ill” person, with no other character traits. He is treated by all as a one dimensional being, who has nothing to offer to the world, as a direct result of his problems. In the following scene, he is dismissed both for having aspirations and for claiming to be “good at cheering people up”:

“It’s given me a clear idea of what I’d like to be. A wacky weatherman. I think I’d be very good at cheering people up in the morning.”

“Er, good luck with that.”

The assumption that those with mental health problems are incapable is a myth, and should not be implied to be true.

Any attempt at viewing these as irony, fail. There are no points at which any character actually sympathises with Mr Barber, or shows the viewer that what has been said is unacceptable. Given that nine out of ten people with mental illness experience discrimination and prejudice, we are not a point where the negative effects of such stigma is common knowledge. Mental health disableism is very real, and I am concerned that shows like this are allowed to so readily reinforce harmful attitudes.

Aug 27, 2014

The Box Ticker

Anonymous said: Hello. I read your comment on someone's wordpress about which city you're treated in for anorexia (or were, apologies). I'm moving to the same city and I want to be referred to the ED services. But I'm worried I'm not "ill" enough. Do you know if they only treat "severe" anorexia? Do they treat people with co-morbids (spec. past suicidal behaviour)? Can you tell me a little about the service please? Do you have to be a certain BMI to be accepted for treatment? Thank you so much x

Hey.

The ED services here are fantastic, probably some of the best in the country. There are outpatient, day patient and inpatient teams, including a specialist psychiatrist, dieticians and therapists.

I’ve got several co-morbid conditions, even as an inpatient I didn’t consider the ED to be my primary diagnosis, and it’s never been a barrier to accessing treatment. Can’t say for sure about BMI and being referred, but I’d be very surprised the ED service itself has such requirements.

Don’t forget that the ‘not feeling ill enough’ is part of anorexia anyway - try not to give those thoughts too much credit. Hope that helps. Feel free to ask anything else. I hope your move goes well.

Aug 26, 2014

Mental Illness and Stigma

I said some words with some other people and the mental health charity Mind edited them together to make this pretty cool video. Check it out.

Aug 12, 2014

(content note: general discussion of suicide)

Following the tragic alleged suicide of Robin Williams, I’ve got an important plea for you all. I know it’s long, but please read -

  1. There is likely to be a lot of bad reporting, a lot of ignorance and a lot of triggering comments made in the press. The cumulative effect of these can make the difference between somebody being able to, or not being able to keep themselves safe. Please think twice before posting anything that contravene these guidelines. If going into any detail, use appropriate trigger warnings or content notes.

  2. If you are in distress - reach out. You can phone, email or text the Samaritans, 24 hours a day. It’s also important to seek professional help, from your GP, mental health worker or A&E.There is no shame in talking, and I promise you are worth it. If you aren’t in the UK, here is a masterpost of suicide hotlines. And here is a masterpost for dealing with suicidal thoughts.

  3. If you are concerned about a friend or relative in distress, the Samaritans can help you too. They have practical advice, and can educate you on the myths around suicidal thoughts.
  4. Mental health services in the UK are being cut, including for those in crisis, putting many people’s lives at risk. Please consider using this link to email your MP, to get them to pledge support for these services and the people affected. This is something very practical you can do to help prevent further tragedies.

We’ve already lost one brilliant mind to mental illness, let’s do our best to not lose any more.

Aug 11, 2014

What is your favourite non-oppressive insult?

ismyinsultoppressive:

I’m compiling a list of insults to use as alternatives to language that could be considered oppressive.


This is what I’ve got so far. As you can see, it’s in its early stages.


Let me hear your suggestions - the more inventive, the better.

Aug 10, 2014

What is your favourite non-oppressive insult?

ismyinsultoppressive:

I’m compiling a list of insults to use as alternatives to language that could be considered oppressive.

This is what I’ve got so far. As you can see, it’s in its early stages.

Let me hear your suggestions - the more inventive, the better.

Aug 7, 2014

Suggest an Insult

ismyinsultoppressive:

Do you have a favourite swear, put down or curse? I will be defining, investigating and posting one new insult each day, and could do with some recommendations. You can suggest at the link above.

Aug 7, 2014

Crazy

ismyinsultoppressive:

Definition:

  1. mad; insane.
  2. foolish; absurd; foolhardy. 

History: 

Derived from ‘craze’ in the 1570s to mean “diseased, sickly” . Developed to mean “full of cracks or flaws” in 1580s and “of unsound mind, or behaving as so” in 1610s. Jazz slang sense “cool, exciting” attested by 1927, and “to drive (someone) crazy” by 1873.

Critique:

Intentionally derogative towards the mentally unwell. Conflates ‘insanity’ with being foolish, absurd and flawed. Casual usage could be argued to trivialise serious distress, and further stigmatise mental illness and perpetuate disableist attitudes.

My new tumblr, for when you want to call someone a rude word but aren’t sure if you should because feminism.

'Is My Insult Oppressive?'

http://ismyinsultoppressive.tumblr.com/

Aug 6, 2014

confusedcatsagainstfeminism:

I don’t need feminism because it’s true that “kittens will be kittens” sometimes.
—
Confused Cats Against Feminism is a project of We Hunted the Mammoth

confusedcatsagainstfeminism:

I don’t need feminism because it’s true that “kittens will be kittens” sometimes.

Confused Cats Against Feminism is a project of We Hunted the Mammoth

Jul 30, 2014

confusedcatsagainstfeminism:

I’m anti-feminist because I don’t understand why CAT-CALLING is inappropriate.

-
Confused Cats Against Feminism is a project of We Hunted the Mammoth

confusedcatsagainstfeminism:

I’m anti-feminist because I don’t understand why CAT-CALLING is inappropriate.

-

Confused Cats Against Feminism is a project of We Hunted the Mammoth