Jonathan Naess is a manic depressive, very successful legal partner with city firm Nabarro-Wells and Co and founder of new MH recovery model iniative 'Stand to Reason'. Jonathan was recently described by the Guardian's MH correspondent David Brindle as 'Mental Health's Voice of Reason'.
Jonathan hopes his organisation Stand to Reason will address workplace stigma and discrimination and smash the glass ceilings that he believes workers with MH issues face. In the Guardian article and on his website Mr Naess explained how he equated Stand to Reason with Stonewall, the political pressure group that campaigned for gay equal rights for 14 years and then in 2003 , after many of its political aims had been achieved , became a registered charity and adopted a less political and more educational role.
I entered into correspondence with Mr Naess because the Guardian article presented him as a maverick independent service user activist when in fact he has very close links to the system. This type of misrepresentation has now become very common in MH circles , for some reason the well connected feel they need to dupe people and underhandedly network outcomes rather than explain their case and take other peoples points of view on board.
Because of the comparison to ' Stonewall ' he made , its there on the Stand to Reason website too, I questioned Jonathan about the way the officially favoured and relentlessly pushed recovery model was creating a new form of 'stigma and discrimination' for MH services users who could not conform to it. Rather than being abstract I pointed to a specific example involving the South London & Maudsley NHS Trust, my local Trust and one Mr Naess has been officially involved with for some time.
Mr Naess responded in the regal ' We' You should be able to pick up the gist of the exchange and problem here.
With respect, you have long been involved with SLAM , you are a Research Associate at the Institute of Psychiatry and you are professionally involved with the Institute/SLAM's Professor Graham Thornicroft an expert in 'stigma and discrimination' so the problem with your' we ' is that you do not appear to be independent enough from the establishment, as Stonewall orginally was, to effectively challenge it when the discrimination and/or inequality arises from its actions.
Off ward, SLAM makes no effort to ensure the basic financial security of service users who do not conveniently fit into its officially favoured recovery model .
( There is no MH specific benefits advice or support in certain boroughs within the SLAM catchment area)
For those who can recover SLAM funds training and employment projects and even plans 'recovery' orientated art exhibitions with initiatives like yours ( Stand to Reason is planning to partner a recovery arts event with SLAM) so it isnt as if the institution lacks the money to provide equality of service , it simply restricts its concerns about financial security and its relationship with the mental health and well-being of its service users to the world of work and thereby makes a conscious decision to really stigmatise and discriminate.
Stonewall did not just campaign on behalf of employed gay people Jonathan!
As for feedback, this is not feedback, it is criticism , as to date, with Stand to Reason you have simply replicated the top down decision making of institutions like SLAM as in addition to trying to sidestep the discrimination and inequality of service perpetuated by SLAM because your project enjoys some type of favoured status there is no participatory capacity designed in to the Stand to Reason website to allow ordinary service users to engage in anything but private e-mail exchange with you or talk to or contact each other ( on the site ) to discuss the aims and objectives you have set out on their behalf.
I'm sorry but you appear to have simply rotated the Stand to Reason iniative around yourself and attempted to re-create the work environment and meetings culture you are familiar with in the city to ensure you remain within your comfort zone : power breakfasts, evening events and round table meetings completely ignoring the fact that the internet is a participatory not top down medium and that very many MH service users are not as mobile, confident enough around other people or even as able to get up in the morning as you are. Many also find the meetings culture toxic.
How do you relate to them Jonathan?
My message bounced back. Mr Naess is broadcasting but not receiving. Whats new?
Labels: Stand to Reason