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Mental Health Social Stigma: Disability Hate Crime in Caldicot

Wez G, Leanne Thomas (lee Lines) middle and her friend.

Wez G, (Lee Lines (Leanne Thomas (centre) I was first locked inside St Cadoc’s Hospital under Section of the Mental Health Act on 2nd April 1997. As horrific as experiences inside a mental hospital can be, once you are released back into the community things can be equally horrific if not more so. In the 22 years of non-consensual Mental Health treatment I have received for a misdiagnosed condition, I have never once disrupted or hurt any individual or group either in the community or inside the hospitals. I have a zero criminal record that I am very proud of. I can remember after a couple of months in hospital in 1997, finally getting out, and making a mad dash for the local pub. Before I went into hospital as a successful DJ and party promoter I had a very good standing in the community and a lot of respect. I loved my hometown of Caldicot with all my heart. As I walked into the Haywain for a much-needed pint, the place went silent. Everyone was just staring at me. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone, even those closest to you and even those who have always tried to treat me the same as they always have before and after 02.04.97, do treat you differently. I’ve learnt to deal with it in my own way over the years. The public perception of mental illness is really bizarre. I blame tabloids covering horror stories of schizophrenic knife attacks or banging on about famous Broadmoor prisoners such as the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. The facts are that a diagnosed schizophrenic is less likely to commit a violent crime than a member of the general public and they are more likely to be the victim of crime. Social stigma is a weird thing. As the years have progressed and the popularity of mental health has entered the mainstream, people are, in general, more accepting and less judgemental. However, you find it really strange talking to people. They sort of gaze at you, look through you and you can see their minds wandering off as you talk. They believe that anything that is emitted from your mouth is lunacy and insanity. You can’t strike up a sensible conversation with somebody who is doing this. They might interrupt and say the common phrase, ‘Oh, and how are you in yourself?’ I love that question…

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