Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Something else to worry about...

From the BBC:

A charity is calling for a nationwide campaign to protect the UK's mental health after a survey suggested people were growing ever more anxious. The poll of 2,000 adults for the Mental Health Foundation found 77% found the world more frightening than in 1999.

The charity described a "culture of fear" in which the media and politicians fuelled a sense of unease... While the economic climate was seen as part of the reason for the increased levels of fear, the charity said it believed there were other factors at play.

The report said "worst-case-scenario language" sometimes used by politicians, pressure groups, businesses and public bodies around issues such as knife-crime, MRSA, bird-flu and terrorism can have a detrimental effect on people's wellbeing.


Hats off to them for pointing out that politicians are deliberately stoking a climate of fear, a prerequisite of any authoritarian state, but just how flawed was their survey? It's always today's problems that you worry about most; you probably can't remember what you were worrying about ten years ago, and ten years ago you probably couldn't remember what you were worrying about ten years before that (OK, end of the Cold War, that was a biggie). So if they did such a survey every ten years, it would show that we get more and more worried as time goes on (which seems unlikely - by analogy, if Brand X washing powder is constantly advertised as having a 'New improved formula', how crap must it have been decades ago?).
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If anything, it's the glib use of the word charity that sets alarm bells ringing. If you download the accounts from the MHF's about us page, they only 'fess up to government grants of £372,000 out of total income of £4,274,000 (page 26), so you have to skip back to the notes to find out what their real purpose is. Ah, here we go, top of page 11...

Effective campaigning

As a founding member of the 'We Need to Talk' coalition of mental health charities we have campaigned hard for improved access to psychological therapies. Our combined efforts bore fruit on World Mental Health day in October 2007, when the Government announced a £170m investment in its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme. We were also a partner in the first annual Psychological Therapies in the NHS conference in December 2007...


Let's pick up the trail with We Need To Talk, "a collaboration between five mental health organisations: Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink, The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, Young Minds....

Mind received £2,888,000 (page 19) from the Big Lottery Fund, the Department of Health, the Financial Services Authority and the Welsh Assembly (bottom of page 21), sprinkled among the Trusts and Foundations are other government bodies such as Comic Relief, the Lloyds TSB Foundation, and the Northern Rock Foundation (pages 20 and 21), and under Companies and organisations we find the Guardian Newspaper, the Mirror Group, the Royal Bank Of Scotland, and the University of Plymouth (page 21).

Rethink received £32,244,000 (95% of their income) from 'service level agreements' (page 10), which is yet another euphemism for 'money from the government', of course.

Sainbury's seem to be almost part of the government, as I have mentioned before (point 2 here)

Young Minds received £1,283,000 (75% of their income) from 'Grants for projects and services' and 'Contracts for services' (page 19), the bulk of which was from the usual suspects - the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Department of Health, the Camelot Foundation, the Big Lottery Fund, Rethink (!) and the Lloyds TSB Foundation (page 22).

Just sayin', is all.

8 comments:

neil craig said...

Government employees lobbying for more money & government employees to counteract the artificial fears produced by government employees using government money to lie to us to create such false worries.

And the press report it as a charity.

subrosa said...

Good research Mark. Some of these 'charity' websites make it more or less impossible to source their funding and the amounts.

TDK said...

Bit of a dilemma for the Mental Health Foundation.

Does reporting that 77% found the world more frightening than in 1999 feed into a "culture of fear"? Should they keep it quite so that people don't panic?

Mark Wadsworth said...

NC, excellent summary.

S, the ones on the charity's own website seem to be summary only, you can always go to Charities Commission or Companies House for more detail.

TDK, may I refer you to NC's comment?

Paul and Nicole said...

Why would government employees trying to safeguard their jobs and grow their enterprise act any differently to businesses trying to safeguard their jobs and grow their enterprises.

No one gets rich when people are happy cos happy people don't spend money.

dmc said...

paul and nicole.....it's our money they're after.We can choose to pay for private enterprise,no choice with goverment,just taken.

Lola said...

These mental 'elf charities then? Sound like a load of bleedin' nutters to me.

dearieme said...

Your campaign on Fake Charities is a fine and noble thing. Carry on, Wadsworth!