I am almost embarrassed to admit that I watched ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. It was all meant to be relatively mindless light-heartened ‘family’ entertainment. It was uncomfortable to watch young children burst into tears, from 10 year old Natalie Okri last Monday to another 10 year old, Hollie Steel on Friday – but still I watched (oh, but for the record, Piers, the line about Hollie being the bravest child in the world because she sings in a talent competition – I know it’s ill-spirited of me to question it but as I watched with my foster child and tried to compare mentally, the two children, I personally felt that the child with me in my house was much much braver).
I was disturbed this morning though to read that Susan Boyle was assessed under the Mental Health Act on Sunday evening.
The BBC story is full of fluff – saying how she was admitted as a voluntary patient to The Priory – a private clinic. She is being treated for exhaustion.
But that’s not what happens if the Mental Health Act is used. People are not assessed for formal involuntary detention if they are ‘exhausted’ with a police presence– and although obviously the admission has been voluntary in the end – the process of an assessment would not have been set up without the offer of a voluntary admission beforehand.
You are not assessed even for formal involuntary detention if you need ‘a few days out for rest and recovery’. You might be advised by your GP and offered a hospital admission (although hospital for rest and recovery doesn’t sit altogether cohesively). There has to be a clear indication of a mental disorder at the very least and a threshold of potential risk of harm to self or others that is set quite rightly, reasonably high.
Now, I know the assessment was not completed because Susan admitted herself voluntarily so there are some elements of conjecture but knowing the process and the ways that the assessments come about, there are more than a few major worries lurking.
“If we prioritise Susan Boyle’s mental health needs then she should not go into the final because if she did, I don’t believe the producers know how she will react.
“Whatever happens, the genie is out of the bottle. It’s very difficult for her to return to the life she once had and therefore in those circumstances her long-term psychological needs must be accommodated by the programme makers.
“They’ve used Susan Boyle and now they need to make sure she gets the long term help she may need as a consequence of appearing on this programme.”
I wonder how much the production companies have known about this in advance – more than a little, I suspect. The show has loss some of its sparkle and although we all know that television production companies put the needs of their stock holders above those who they make into instant celebrities, it is not as common to see the meltdown and such an immediate cause and effect.
I genuinely do wish Susan all the best but for those producers , I wish a lot less positive outcomes. They have had their money and their viewing figures and are now running, it seems, for all their talk of ‘support’. If someone who had seen this, had put a stop to this BEFORE the final then I would have had a lot more respect for them.
I wonder what has happened to the duty of care and although I’m not so naive as to believe that money shouldn’t play a factor, health and well-being should be the overriding considerations.
There is the ability to make stars but there is a destruction opposite that may have been unleashed.