tram turned into padded cell to fight mental health prejudice
Sheffield tram has today been turned into a padded cell as part
of a campaign against mental health discrimination.
move is part of a Time
to Change campaign run by three charities. The campaign aims
to bring about a measurable 5% decrease in mental illness and 5%
reduction in discrimination by 2012.
Passengers are to travel in the
padded carriages on the yellow route of the Sheffield's Supertram
Posters aim to give the message
that mental health problems are common and those with a psychiatric
diagnosis get on with life and travel to work like everybody else.
Time to Change, run by Mental Health
Media, Mind and Rethink, has been backed by £16m from the
Big Lottery Fund and £2m from Comic Relief.
The tram carriages are emblazoned
with slogans such as: "1 in 4 will have a mental health problem
in their life; that's 50 on this tram - but they don't need to spend
their days in a padded cell".
Sue Baker, director of Time to Change,
said: "People with mental health problems say that other people's
prejudice, fear and discrimination can have a worse impact than
the problem itself."
16, 2008: Stigma is no laughing matter -
Sue Baker, head of the largest ever campaign to tackle the stigma
linked to mental health
Louise Pembroke, mental health activist, London
January 26, 2009
About as useful as a chocolate teapot, I fail to see what this achieves.
Do Time for Change [how much did their pointless rebranding from
'Moving People' cost?] really believe that stunts like this change
people's views? Perhaps they'd like to tackle the more important
issues in people's lives like housing, healthcare, benefits, the
impact of psychiatric diagnosis [especially personality disoder],
the fact that you can't access ANY social supports without a diagnosis,
the fact that this results in diagnostic overshadowing, the fact
that occupational health depts 'red flag' anyone with history of
'psychosis' or self harm, the fact that some mental health charities
use these occupational health reports to decide on whether someone
is fit for work, the fact that people now feel criminalised by politicians
and legislation. How someone treats you on a sodding train kinda
pales by comparison.
for the employment is good for your mental health mantra, tell that
to the person who doesn't have a degree or professional skill doing
minimum wage manual work with no sick pay, and why oh why do so
many projects focus on gardening or catering. Thiis has always been
the case. What is this fixation within OT, rehab, "recovery"
or "work" related projects that all service users love
gardening and catering?
not a soundbite stunt
Louise Jones, tutor, London
January 26, 2009
I really do struggle to see what this approach to challenging discrimination
actually achieves... are we saying the people on THAT bus don't
need to be in a padded cell?
about the people on the other buses?” that’s the response
I had when I asked colleagues about their response to this stunt.
just wish we could be a little more sophisticated when we undertake
these campaigns. In order to challenge stigma and discrimination,
we really need to start addressing the underlying causes –
and that have very little to do with driving buses around Sheffield...the
underlying causes are boring though, they are not sexy – i.e.
diagnostic discrimination, poverty trap caused by benefits, inappropriate
use of legislation like DDA, human resources policy and procedures,
medical questionnaires attached to occupational health assessments
to name a few.... these are the grinding realities of people’s
lives. Alas these stories are not 'newsworthy' or sexy.....if it’s
Time To Change , then I really wish we would change our approach
to tackling discrimination, as the issues people face are more complex
than some 'soundbite' type stunt, they are deadly (in some cases)
Time to reflect
Peter Campbell, former Mind
Diamond Champion, founder of mental health campaigning group
Survivors Speak Out, freelance trainer and writer, London
January 29, 2009
I have mixed feelings about using stunts with mocked up padded cells
to put across the point that we are all really the same as each
other - we can all make it on the bus to work.
don't believe we are all the same and we shouldn't be ashamed of
our differences. Part of the reason for our difference is that some
of us get chewed up in the mental health system.
rate of detentions increased 20% in the 1996 to 2006 period and
latest figures show that more than 1000 people a year are spending
time in solitary confinement in police cells awaiting assessment
under the Mental Health Act.
hope that in due course Time For A Change will do something to reflect
that reality and its causes and not satisfy itself with bland soundbites.
No tram ride
to work with a diagnosis
Louise Jones, tutor, London
January 29, 2009
agree Peter. The point of the stunt was meant to show people with
mental health problems just ‘getting on with their lives’
aka travelling about town - like any other member of the general
public. The problem here, though - as you link with the mental health
act - is that as someone (myself) who has been sectioned, it’s
actually really difficult to ‘get on with your life’
after you have used mental health services or been detained under
the act... You may be able to sit on a bus (although Freedom passes
are getting more and more difficult for people to come by who used
to be entitled), but don’t bother trying to access financial,
business, insurance or travel services. That tram ‘to work’
(if your lucky enough to have a job) gets awful difficult to get
on when it comes to occupational health assessments after you have
been detained under the mental health act or received a specific
diagnosis. Time To Change, within the energy it has spent worrying
about stunts on trams, has really missed the boat as far as tackling
discrimination is concerned.
having such a narrow focus, which does not tackle any of the underlying
reasons why stigma and discrimination exists – the metaphorical
public transportation is just not that accessible for people who
have used mental health services. And if all they wanted to do was
move people about on trams, then they should not have bothered rebranding
as ‘Moving People’ seems much more suitable a name for
the latest stunt.
Anne-Laure Donskoy, service user and research coordinator, User
Focused Monitoring, Bristol
February 1, 2009
This is yet another tram to nowhere and we, survice users and survivors,
will be the ones hitting the wall.
If I had known how they would use the information, when they consulted
people on the subject about a year ago, I would not have bothered
filling in the questionnaire.
Having been sectioned or not makes no difference in terms of getting
bus passes. They are now in fact more difficult to get than the
concessionary passes of a few years ago and the new passes exclude
more people than before as councils interpret the law in different
ways in different areas of the country.
me a padded cell/tram can only reinforce all cliches surrounding
We also forget to be honest and recognise that there is also stigma
and discrimination among service users and survivors.
When I finally went back to work after 15 years out, with relapses
every now and then, my fellow service users considered me as "not
one of them" anymore. You could either be ill or in work, but
absolutely not a working service user. Yeah, great.
Louise Pembroke, service user and mental health activist, London
February 2, 2009
Spot on Anne-Laure, sadly many of our peers have swallowed the recovery
agenda and can police each other as regards what constitutes "recovery"
with viewing those in work as OK and then berating those in receipt
of benefits. You can't win! [ditto same problem with using/not using
I would like to see what's left of the user/survivor movement address
it's own discrimination within, but I doubt this will happen. I'd
like to see the millions spent on stupid stunts addressing more
meaningful issues like travel passes, occupational health, discrimination
within the NHS, discrimination within government acts, supporting
survivors to access education and work in a meaningful way, and
supporting survivors who need to remain doing voluntary work.
Watch that pig fly....
do you think? Email your comments on the above
article to the editor using the form below. Selected comments will
© 2001-7 Psychminded Limited. All
about this article