A recent thread on Twitter, involving a number of UK mental health professionals, denigrated those who, like myself, live with prescribed harm. The thread was quite frankly nasty. It seemed deliberately provocative. Those involved in this thread equated those who have had less than positive experience of psychiatry as “Trolls”. This term now seems to be used by some mental health professionals on Twitter as almost equivalent to a ‘psychiatric diagnosis’.
Several of the contributors to this thread [practising UK mental health professionals] have had the behaviour and language that they use on social media described as “vile”. One contributor joked about a ‘vile on’. This was a reference to “pile ons” [that users of Twitter will be familiar with].
A further contributor argued that such use of language and behaviour was appropriate and complained about “tone policing”. But professional values matter. That is why organisations have collectively agreed the values that matter to the profession:
Such as these:
In 2018, this guidance was issued:Guidelines are recommendations and need not be followed. As anybody on Twitter will know. Furthermore, no organisation seems willing to hold professionals to account if they routinely ignore their guidelines. The Royal Colleges, the GMC, and employers are turning a blind eye to what the former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists described as “all this nastiness”.
I am not sure if any action is possible, and if one dares to put a head above the parapet, invariably you will be described as a “Troll”, or maybe as I have, find yourself diagnosed on Twitter as mentally disordered [in my case by a senior UK psychiatrist that I have never met]. This abuse of power is seriously damaging the reputation of the profession of psychiatry.
This post urges those in positions of power to remind professionals of organisational values. Otherwise the ‘vile-on’ culture will continue and harm will be perpetuated. We need to be kinder to one another. It is reasonable to expect healthcare professionals to understand this and to promote the values of the caring profession.