Tonight, BBC2 is airing a documentary called ‘Why did you kill my Dad?’. It is made by Julian Hendy, whose father was fatally stabbed by a man with long term mental health problems. He did, as a result of this, do some research about the levels of homicides carried out by those who are mentally ill and presents his findings for the programme – focussing on the failings of the British mental health systems.
His research is said to show that homicides are much higher than ‘official’ figures. The reasons, perhaps, for some of this ‘underplaying’ is explained by Louis Appleby, the ‘Mental Health Tsar who states
“If somebody were responsible for a homicide in which there were multiple victims that would count as one incident from our statistics – so the 50 cases a year are perpetrators, not victims. And, of course, there are a small number of cases where a person commits homicide and then commits suicide so there is no conviction, and those cases aren’t included.”
So this seems to be the way of judging – I don’t think it is an active and deliberate attempt to obfuscate but rather than that the method of gathering information is for different purposes – looking at the perpetrator rather than the victims. If the ‘gathering’ is done for the reasons of delivering and providing services rather than for public protection and/or information.
“Julian Hendy’s documentary raises important issues. No-one can watch the families talking about their grief without feeling immense sympathy. However, it only tells a handful of stories, which cannot explain the reality of life for the 630, 000 people with a severe mental illness across the country. The vast majority are not only normal law-abiding citizens but are more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator.
“We must ask what we can do to prevent these cases, which cause immense trauma to everyone involved. The answer lies not in scaremongering about the likelihood of being attacked, which remains extremely rare. Instead we must design a mental health system that responds when people and their families ask for help and is proactive if people disengage in treatment. A decent system would help our entire society, including the 1 in 4 of us who will experience a mental problem at some point in our lives.
“The documentary comes at an important time. Political parties need to explain now what they will do to give Britain a health system that provides the right treatment for people with severe mental illness at the right time.”
The statement seems to strike a balance between acknowledging the pain and poor service delivery that can lead to homicides while noting the rarity and the much higher propensity to be a victim of violence that those with severe mental illnesses face.
I think there are two aspects that to need to be highlighted there – active engagement and responded to families who raise concerns themselves. Both of these – as everything – require more resources – which requires more money.
I don’t have any doubt that there will be huge gaps in service provision and quality of care highlighted. Because there are huge gaps. Services are limited by finances and not everyone receives a quality of care that they should. I don’t want to defend poor practice by any means but in a world of limited resources choices are made and they are not always the right ones.
[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=flower&iid=7293473″ src=”9/8/5/1/Closeup_of_flowers_e8b9.jpg?adImageId=10844794&imageId=7293473″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]
I am not sure if I’ll watch the programme tonight just due to other external factors but will try and catch it on the iPlayer and review it later in the week. In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing responses to it.