Summer 2010 editorial: Moving forward

One in Four two years on

In the wake of one of the most interesting general election results in the last two decades, it seems an excellent time to take stock.

This is the second birthday issue of One in Four. Two years is a huge achievement for an independent magazine written by people with mental health difficulties of which we are justly proud. We’re only beginning to get a sense of all of the things we can do and we’re hopeful for the future. In our review of the One in Four story you’ll see what we’ve managed to date.

We set out to provide positive, realistic images of people with mental health difficulties doing things, to provide information and advice guided by experience and to give a new, fresh voice about mental health that gives people hope that change in their lives is possible.

One in Four doesn’t believe that all mental health difficulties are the same, nor that all people who experience them have the same needs and wishes. We’re about people working out what needs to happen in their lives and finding ways to do it.

One in Four doesn’t accept the proposition that everything needs to change before people with mental health difficulties can have the lives we deserve. Change, for us, can be small things. We think that everyone with hope and support can do things in their lives that can make those lives better.

While it is campaigners whom we have to thank for many of the positive changes for people with mental heath difficulties since the Second Word War,One in Four is not a campaigning organisation. We support campaigners in their efforts to change the way that mental health difficulty is seen, in their commitment to make sure that people with mental health difficulties have everything they need and we salute their passion and commitment. Without campaigners and people who want to make a difference, it is hard to see how many of the advances that have been made for people with mental health difficulties would have taken place.

Campaigning can suggest that there are people in power who need to change and that this is the only way of making things better. We think the picture is more complicated than that.

We also support everyone involved in delivering services and help to people who are experiencing   or who have experienced mental health difficulties. Within the caring professions there are many principled individuals who are as committed to making life for people with mental health difficulties as fulfilling as it should be. The same is true across many sectors of industry and charity. We don’t accept that just because someone is on ‘the other side of the desk’, they can’t possibly understand the things that people with mental health difficulties and their friends and family experience. Many are drawn to professions that provide care, support or treatment precisely because of their own experiences.

While cynicism is a healthy trait amongst people who are used to getting the thin edge of the wedge in terms of care, support and treatment, we stand against the idea that there is no chance of change for people with mental health difficulties, either as individuals or as group. For everyone, hope is the most important factor in getting things sorted. Without hope that things might get better, there is no action.

In this time of political uncertainty, the worst thing we can do is feel that things will inevitably get worse. Mental health services and the services that support people in other ways need to survive and get the help to the people who need it. One in Four supports any public figure of whatever political group who can help things move in the right direction.

For us, the most powerful force is people with mental health difficulties understanding what they need and how they might get it. We don’t think all people with mental health difficulties need to be campaigners. Most of us have our hands full just getting on with our lives.

For us what is important is helping people with mental health difficulties to understand ourselves and the challenges we face and finding ways of making the changes we want happen, whichever way is best for us.

Thank you for giving us this chance.

Mark Brown,

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This editorial first appeared in the Summer 2010 edition of One in Four magazine

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