I had a shock when I looked at the website in ages today and it was completely broken so it jumped to the top of my ‘to do’ list. The AMHPA website is one of those jobs that is always on my ‘to do’ list but never quite makes it into the ‘important AND urgent’ box (for those of you that are familiar with Eisenhower matrices).
It was relatively straightforward to set up and it was a good learning exercise – if nothing more – to try to get the online forum working. Somebody did approach me when we started it to say I was wasting my time and that nobody would use it. My response at the time was that I didn’t mind so much because the personal gain for me would be that I’d learnt how to put such a thing together. I guess we were both right – nobody used the forum but I did learn how to put it together!
For that reason, I’m going to disable the forum function on the website, as a precursor to tidying the place up a bit and consolidating what might be useful.
A recent discussion on Twitter got me thinking again about our approach to the forum, which also steered me towards turning the facility off. Mark Neary – @MarkNeary1 on Twitter and there’s also his blog – was refused registration to a professional forum discussing the Mental Capacity Act on the basis that he was a carer and the forum was intended as a ‘safe space’ for professionals.
When I read the justification for declining his registration I had several immediate thoughts:
- Will there be anybody in the group who has as much first-hand experience of the Mental Capacity Act and how badly it can go wrong?
- Why would they turn away Mark’s willingness to participate when there are so many ways he could meaningfully contribute?
- Was this the result of a conspiracy driven by the Local Authority he has had to battle so hard against?
- Oh dear – some of those justifications sound just like the conversations we had when we set up our own forum.
We’d observed much discussion on social media that troubled us and thought that it might be preferable to set up something completely separate to sidestep the issues we’d noted. Of particular concern were situations where professionals (and I’m aware that there is some controversy about that term but I’m using it in the mundane-technical sense to refer to the professionally-registered social workers and nurses undertaking the role) where dishing out legally erroneous advice which seemed to be taken at face value. Another issue was that of people detained on mental health wards or in the process of being assessed seeking support whilst seemingly in the throes of a significant crisis.
Of course, these concerns have to be balanced against the many good things to be found on the most popular social media groups – such as a culture of mutual support, the openness to challenge from and sharing of experience by people experiencing the Mental Health Act as patients and carers, the volume of serious and reliable discussion on legal-technical matters and the sharing of news and developments in the field. We can’t compete with that and shouldn’t be trying to – for practical and ethical reasons I believe that the open discussions on Twitter and Facebook (and – of course – I’m referring to the excellent Masked AMHP Facebook group) are a far more effective way of connecting AMHPs than our private discussion group could have ever been.
The issues about inappropriate use of the groups should be dealt properly via moderation and I understand that there is a lot of careful moderation of the main groups. It seems like a big deal for them to consider ever removing a post and I am certain that to get the best of such things they have to be presented warts-and-all – to think otherwise is a naive fantasy that misses the point of how social media function.
If it’s straightforward to pull-off a mailing list from the registrations I’ll be sending a thanks to all the people who took the trouble of registering but otherwise the forum and registration process will be closed.
AMHPA – Managing Director