Sharing a blog post from 2017, for those interested.
Law, legislating and mental health are complex topics, unfathomable to some and to be avoided as much as politics and religion to others. What many a layperson fails to understand is that the laws by which we lead our lives reflect the society in which we live and therefore, the process of selecting, or rather, electing those to have the power to make those laws and rules is one of the most important ones an adult can ever make.
Like so many things around us, too many of us take this right to make a careful, reasoned choice for granted and ignore the significance of and correlation between politics and law. The law-making begins with elected representatives proposing and voting in Parliament (among many other procedures) on what will affect all of our lives.
Nonetheless, it is all too common to hear of politicians being out-of-touch and being held by the public to be above the law, doing as they please and covering up facts, data and activities when they deem fit. Now, criticism is as easy to hand out as it is to tar all with the same brush. So much so that it is equally easy to forget that politicians are human beings who can not only make mistakes but often fall victim to political scheming and are as vulnerable to being made scapegoats to satisfy a political will or the egotistical grandeur of their counterparts.
The notion of being above the law mentioned above is an interesting one and we must set aside for now the concepts of laws and rules to realise that those laws and rules, and their very creation, are underpinned in UK law by this great thing known as the rule of law. It is a "doctrine", in other words, an unwritten set of principles, the starting point of which is that to whom the law applies must not be arbitrary, it must apply to every person. This includes what individually we perceive as good or bad and I will briefly describe each principle of the rule of law and consider how it is seemingly disregarded particularly in a political setting.
Retrospective legislation is one of the UK's cherished underlying principles. The essence of this is that if a law did not exist at the time an offence was committed, it cannot be applied should it later come to exist as law.
A term often heard recently is certainty, and legal certainty is one of those underlying principles in law-making. This means laws must be enforced and applied in a way that essentially is predictable and that the guilt of a person must only be determined in the normal legal manner through the normal trial process.
The next principle, equality, is fairly simple to define: everyone is equal and should receive fair treatment. It also establishes the right to protection from discrimination from the state. Outlining the rule of law principle, AV Dicey specified that the state should be seen to treat officials in the same way as ordinary citizens, i.e. through the same legal and judicial processes and in the same courts since it is important to show that the state is not being sympathetic to its own.
A further principle is fairness. Again, a simple term which means that everyone should have access to the law, i.e. know what it is, and it should be sufficiently clear to all in order to avoid unjust discrimination.
Due process is the principle which lays down that a person must only receive punishment for his or her acts where there is substantial and sufficient evidence of their guilt. A person cannot lose their liberty, for instance, until it is proven that they have committed the alleged wrong-doing.
Certainty is the first principle where we find ourselves at odds where politicians are concerned. Some would say there is nothing more brutal than having a job, then every four and a half years having to fight for it in the most public manner possible, after which life may never be the same again. More brutal is when accusations fly over a politician's activities and without proof or investigation, they are essentially subjected to public flogging fueled by the media. Where is legal certainty in the processes available to him or her in this public arena?
Many will argue the state is guilty of being sympathetic to and protecting its own. However, the flip side to this is that with the public flogging to which political figures are subjected, the target of accusations typically receives considerably less than sympathetic treatment from some of his or her political peers or seniors, all of which are again fueled by media reactions and speculation. When this happens the political target is denied the right to the same legal and judicial processes as the ordinary person.
Considering the principle of fairness, how can the notion of unjust discrimination be avoided when headlines consisting of less than half a dozen words condemn a person before any formal hearing? Surely if the state applies its own internal rules in regard to that person which results in their public flogging leaving them to metaphorically bleed to death in the face of allegations made public with no hearing or proven fact, the state is in fact guilty of unjust discrimination?
When these unofficial public proceedings take place, the political target is punished from the second an inkling of information is made public, stripped of all dignity, privacy and, significantly, rights. The question must be asked: why do these principles of justice not apply to the practices of political organisations and within governmental or parliamentary establishments?
The principle of equality before the law does not exist in these circles. Contrast an individual accused of murder, rape or offences against children with the political figure. The former can be sat down safe in his or her anonymity, with a lawyer, reviewing the allegations against them before he or she is invited to respond to any questioning and put forward his or her defence. The latter is publicly condemned to a death sentence before full facts are known or proven. This is a very worrying state to live under.
We may despise politicians and we may criticise them but if we can easily brush aside the fact they are sentient beings like the rest of us, we allow the political establishments to be a law unto themselves. Consequently, we allow the establishment to deny these people a fair hearing based on principles of equality, to subject them to discrimination by reason of their status and to ignore the principle of innocence until proven guilty that every one of us would expect. If we tolerate this, both society and the political establishment are a shambles. It must be challenged and it must be obliged to change.
First time in South Wales and this group was really involved. I look forward to delivering more workshops in 2020 in the south and hopefully seeing some familiar faces!
For now, here is some of their feedback, gathered on the day. Hopefully I will get time to publish more but with 40 attendees, most of whom left feedback, this takes time!
"So impressed with speaker's ability to share. This would be useful to all NHS staff."
"Good to reflect on the issues. Personal experiences really helpful to hear about. Thank you for sharing it"
"Better understanding of trauma and triggers, and terminology used. Handouts were very useful, good speaker who is open about her past experiences"
"Greater knowledge of theory and practical support for suppporting. Spot on." [Youth Justice Service]
"Great hearing from a survivor's perspective. Thank you for sharing."
"Benefitted by gaining a greater understanding of dissociatin and how to approach and use different techniques. Invaluable to have your personal experience and to share your experience. It helped give context and reality to what can sometimes be be more dry. Thank you."
"Learnt all new stuff today. Amazing - would like to look into trauma and dissociation. Fantastic day. Great content. Presentation was brilliant. Will take this back to the team. Thank you." [Mental health wellbeing charity]
"Useful for understanding dissociation, how this can affect someone and how we can work with young people and support them/ground them/"bring them back"."
"Brilliant insight, "Survivor's story". Good knowledge."
Another fantastic group of people attended this York event with full attendance numbers too! Good input from those present including from delegates from women's support organisations, Mind, Yorkshire schools and West Yorkshire Police among others. Many thanks to everyone who took time out to attend, for the contacts received for organisations that could find this beneficial, and to the staff at YHA York for their support in setting this up and preparing the hot and cold working lunch buffet for us all.
Some feedback left on the forms provided as to how delegates felt they benefitted is below. If you would like to leave an additional comment, please do so below. Thanks again!
"Good balance of practical info about process and practical help. Very relevant and useful. Good for non-specialists to get this knowledge."
"Clarification of symptoms and helpful strategies to implement in a school setting."
"Thank you for your professionalism & excellent honest delivery. Also the materials are excellent. From a professional perspective: helped me to remember to approach each session with "newness; each session is different to the last for that person"
"Will be able to use grounding techniques with pupils when experiencing anxiety. Useful information to offer support to the young people I work with."
"Gave me a greater understanding & knowledge of dissociation"
"Greater awareness of my own behaviours; particularly relevant in dealing with son's behaviours associated to trauma. I feel much more aware of how I had wanted to have labels to attach to behaviours. I feel I can work more empathically with my clients. Hopefully use/think more about "what if" & like the grounding - bringing back into the space techniques. Great workshop - thank you, Julie. Excellent lunch too!"
"Learning of different dissociations etc - things I was not aware of."
"I've worked with women with DID previously and it's always useful to have reminder training of what it is and hear a survivor's perspective rather than from a professional's as I can embed this into my work/support."
"Practical tips, confidence in what I already do; good hearing lived experience. Excellent. Thank you for the personal story which very much resonated with my own journey with dissociation. Best training I've been on because I felt like you were embodied and not just giving tips but actual lived experience. I liked the approach of trying things and no necessarily having all the answers, but techniques we can experiment with."
"Useful information for difficult situations. Would be useful for adoptive parents to hear."
"Learning first hand experiences of what dissociation feels like. Very useful - thank you for sharing."
"Lots of strategies and techniques I hope to use in my work. Greater awareness of trauma and dissociation. Really inofrmative. Thank you."
"Good insight into personal experience techniques."
"Gained further understanding of how to recognise signs of trauma and respond in healthy ways."
"Very useful information to use in work/pass on to other members of staff."
"Consolidating my knowledge and opportunity to discuss. Will support me in my practice as a social worker. Given me the confidence to discuss trauma with other professionals when advocating for my cuostomer. Thank you very much and best wishes on your journey. An excellent training day!"
"Deeper awareness of what people who have experienced trauma need to feel supported and heard. Reassurance of my practitioner techniques and how these may be used on a way that is helpful. Thank you for sharing your personal story. Overall a very informative and enjoyable day."
"Realisation that not all dissociation is D.I.D. That people can have dissociation and not have multiple personalities presenting."
"A better understanding of dissociation and the implications"
What a lovely group of people I met today at The Summit Centre in Kirkby! Plenty of experiences shared, ideas and feedback during the open discussion and activities with comments from some, such as on the usefulness of hearing from agencies performing entirely different supporting roles but with the same members of the public. The feedback received on the day on the forms handed out is below and further comments are welcomed below.
"Gained an insight into how traumatised people might behave and how to identify and deal with this."
"Indepth view of working with trauma."
"I felt I learnt more about dissociation and trauma, which will help me in my role."
"It made me more aware of triggers and being more aware of behaviours. Your sharing gave a deep insight."
"Have a much greater and more thorough understanding of dissociation and trauma and how to respond safely to those in distress."
"Increased knowledge of dissociation and feel more confident in identifying it and to work positively with people experiencing this."
"Reassured that I will know what to do if a client dissociates. A really useful course to build understanding."
"Better understanding od dissociation and an understanding of grounding techniques."
A lovely group of people attended this "Understanding Dissociation & Trauma" awareness event yesterday. It was good to have input from these attendees and some issues raised reflected comments raised by agencies at other events. Many public and third sector workers seem to be on the same wavelength with mental and emotional wellbeing matters! Some interesting conversations were held too.
Some of the feedback received is below and the rest will follow soon. Many thanks to everyone who attended.
"Has helped me to see some things with my clients that I hadn't noticed before."
"Gained a lot of knowledge around trauma events and dissociation and the triggers that people can experience. Good to hear about personal experiences from Julie Anne. Very friendly and approachable. I don't work with Adult's Mental Health but do support children affected by domestic abuse resulting in trauma events etc."
"The trauma aspect was very relevant and interesting. Very appreciative of the trainer's moving testimony."
"Refocussed my practice - reminded not to judge and to consider all options. Introduced a new resource to enhance my practice with younger children - "Who is Corey?" book.
[Note from Julie Anne: This CBT for children book is available at http://amzn.eu/d13aMEG] A further book will be released soon!]
I met a lovely group of people from Rochdale Connections Trust this week, performing a variety of roles within the organisation which was interesting to hear about. Everyone fully participated in the day and had a lot of information and experience to share with their colleagues in the area of behaviours considered challenging, trauma, ACEs and related mental health issues. I am very grateful to have been invited to speak with RCT and hope our paths cross once again!
This was my first visit to Birmingham - ever - and overall a very positive one. The venue staff at J L Kare couldn't have been more helpful prior to and on the day. A lovely group of people attended and what made the day beneficial was the input from many of the attendees throughout, learning from each other and sharing knowledge.
A first at these events was the demo session of Laughter Yoga provided in the afternoon by practitioner "Merrie Maggie" which everyone was able to participate in. I am sure this was appreciated by all and offered insight into another form of support for wellbeing. Many thanks to everyone.
If you would like to leave a comment about the day, you are welcome to do so below.
Julie Anne is a Mental Health Speaker specialising in Trauma/PTSD. She writes and delivers CPD accredited workshops and is also a registered Nutritional and Lifestyle Therapist (Ayurveda) available to provide dietary guidance to maintain wellbeing. The blog on this topic gives free dietary and health tips and advice for treating ailments and staying healthy naturally.