All this week the ABC has challenged the world with its emphasis on mental health issues, including some really good documentaries and interviews spanning the range of mental health issues and broadcast over all its “platforms” so that exposure for an ABC listener and viewer could not be avoided.And it made me think….
I spent 29 years in the ABC and as both a radio producer and, covertly, as a psychologist I came into contact with the best and the worst of mental health problems that emerge. I suspect it was,like all organisations, subject to the ups and downs of the personalities of both managers and managed and the interpretation of the policy (or lack of) towards mental health.
During this time I witnessed bullying of people unable to defend themselves to the point of breakdown by ego driven broadcasters and bosses,the covert transfer of people with mental health problems to areas other than where the manager was,the subtle cover up of suicides (at least 3 I know of, including that of a close friend) where information was “shut down” to other members of staff, unsubtle threats of “do not talk about it or you could get into trouble” with managers,a complete ignorance by many people of what the policy was and how to enact it, unsympathetic defences by bosses of people who could not defend themselves and peer group pressure that helped to drive people away and, in some cases, mad.
Yup, this is the organisation that says it is all over the subject, including rare admissions by celebs and non celebs alike of their pain and distress over mental health issues and for some bizarre reason all I can think of is the fact that perhaps this might, just might, be a start within the organisation to look towards their own and actually cut the ties between the is and the ought…..
I well remember when I asked to move to Canberra I hear the words of my ex boss;”You should see a psychologist” And I always remember my answer,”Yes, I do”. I am one and I wish for a happer organisational future for mental health in the Broadcaster….I am not counting the days though