About Me

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I have been working to support disabled people to live as independently as possible and realising their individual potentials for over 20 years. I am qualified in Health and Social Care Management and Ethics and Social Welfare. All blog entries are my responses to issues I see affecting those I support and indeed myself as I joined the disabled community after surviving a stroke.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Raoul Moat & The Media Perception of Mental Health

Like many of us I was absorbed by the media coverage in Northumbria of Raoul Moat and his evasion of the police, and like most of you could have predicted how it ended.

Now I know nothing of Mr Moat's particular case other than what has been reported on television and in newspapers so will not try to defend, condone or in anyway excuse the murder of one person and the severe injuries caused to two other people; but what I am concerned about is the continued stigmatisation of mental health conditions in the media and that chances that cases like Mr Moat's be used as a part of this continuation.

I have seen the words psychotic and manic used to describe Mr Moat in the final days of his life, which may or may not be true, however in the context in which these words have been used, along with deranged and dangerous, it can only add to the myth that anyone with a mental health condition that may cause psychoses and/or manic episodes is a dangerous person who will blow you away as soon as look at you.

It has been reported that Mr Moat was asking for psychiatric help in the hours and minutes before his death, however he was not long out of prison where, one would hope, he had undergone some form of analysis before his release, if he didn't, maybe the system failed or maybe he wasn't mentally ill, maybe he had a personality disorder or he was merely extremely angry about what had happened; it is all very speculative at the moment and I am not going to join those amateur psychoanalysts who think they know what was going through his mind before during and after his release from prison.

My point is this, there are clear diagnostic procedures before anyone can be described as being manic or psychotic, even those that are diagnosed with such conditions are very unlikely to be a risk to the public, and those in the media should use the terms correctly if they are going to use them at all, and in return the public (including myself) should refrain from being suckered into the media frenzy (there's another one for you) where these terms are used to heighten publicity and generate excitement from what was and continues to be an extremely sad story.

On the other side of this is the social media, particularly Facebook, and particularly the group RIP Raoul Moat You Legend ... he may have been a man who slipped through the net of mental health support, but what he did isn't legendary in anyway shape or form, although some 38,000 facebook users disagree with me.


  1. "My point is this, there are clear diagnostic procedures before anyone can be described as being manic or psychotic"

    No there aren't. Psychiatry is a psuedo science and within mental health circles people self-diagnose mania , psychosis and other conditions all the time without you or any other self-professed disability expert feeling the need to blog a stern warning at them to cease and desist doing this.

    There is even diagnostic software out there now , check out the BBC Ouch site.

  2. to admin

    please demonstrate to me where I told people not to self-diagnose. I agree very much that the individual knows how they are feeling, the self diagnosis software is based on the recognised symptoms of mental illness.

    And my 'stern warning' as you chose to word it was against the use of terms like manic and psychotic in the mass media to sensationalise news stories.

  3. The very state of 'mania' precludes the individual from being able to self diagnose as insight into behaviour and consequence is greatly diminished.
    To say that there are NOT clear diagnostic procedures available is simply incorrect.
    Like any illness; be it mental or physical, the individual needs to work hand in hand with health professionals while taking responsibility for ongoing maintenance of their own health.
    Although not familiar with the particular case being described in this post, similar tragic incidents have occurred close to me.
    The bottom line is this...those who can afford access to private healthcare would be unlikely to find themselves in such a sad scenario.
    It is the marginalised and vulnerable in our society who are most at risk due to lack of government funding and the perceptions of mentally ill people being perpetuated by the media in their relentless pursuit of a scoop.