Bipolar is the New Back-ache (and how to improve the social care of children in the UK)

Mental health professionals working with local authorities must be rubbing their hands in glee these days. With so many people able to claim they are bipolar and suffer depression after a quick look on a medical website to learn the symptoms they will need to claim they have.

One quick assessment by a mental health ‘professional’ later and you’re on your way to a nice payout from the government to add to your existing benefits. More ticks in the pharmaceutical company goodies bag for the ‘professional’ too.

Whilst benefit claimants for years were able to play the non-specific back pain card to get themselves out of looking for work, it did really get in the way of enjoying the invalidity benefit when you could be caught running around town or playing football at the weekend.

With the all new, improved, non-specific mental illness, going down the pub or having a game of footie is therapeutic as it helps remove the symptoms of the depression and bipolar disorders.

What a relief, you can get your money and enjoy yourself without fear of some Social Services investigation taking embarrassing photos that show no signs of back pain (ya jakey bastad).

Then again, removing the local authority standard issue rose tinted glasses for a second. This again distorts proper diagnosis and treatment for the true sufferers of mental illness especially as there are several degrees of bipolar of which some being so subtle (as classified by mental health ‘professionals’), their effects could equate in normal human terms to the ups and downs of life that every human being endures without need for government aid.

It is becoming an age old question now that several generations (well it can only take 12 or 13 years to get another one going) have grown up being taught how to blag a nice living from benefits and as with all of these scams, what is the purpose of a system where the ones who truly suffer have to share diminished support with the distasteful members of the ‘anti-society’?

Each time a government restriction is imposed to reduce false claimants in one area of social care, the blaggers move onto another open scheme. Most recently being the mental health scams. I’m actually wondering how much I could get for a little bit of depression and bipolar as if, as I read today, I could also sue the government for trying to force me to get my claimed disorder treated, it is just money for old rope. “Hello, I am depressed and can’t work so please could I have some money? Thank you. Treatment? No, I don’t need treatment, I am offended that you could consider that treating such an obviously untreatable illness would benefit me when I can now do whatever I like with my time funded by you.” I’m not quite sure how human rights can be used to justify such ideas but hey, what do I know. Say you had a screwdriver stuck through your leg in an accident and you then go to the local benefit office to claim for disability payments as you can’t work with a screwdriver in your leg. You claim that removing it could cause you even more distress and pain so you want it to stay there but still get disability benefit. Does that work too?

Whilst the knowledge that one has to pay for such people as well as those in need is disheartening for those who can understand and support the true principles of the welfare state, the problem is far deeper rooted than the people who blag from what is a wholly disjointed and failing system. They at least come from the perspective, “Yes, I am immoral but the system allows me to do this”. In this and probably a great deal more, they are the same as many politicians obviously so maybe that is why they get such support.

Failing may be argued to be a case of ever diminishing funding, what about disjointed then? Well, say for example, a woman who is addicted to heroin chooses to have a child in order to be able to claim more benefits. The child is neglected (at best) and taken into care. The woman, moves two roads away into another local authority’s area, has another child and starts claiming benefits again. No investigation will be done at the time of birth to see if the woman has already been shown to be unable to care for a child, so that baby will be subjected to the risks that any strung out junkie’s child will be and in a worst case scenario for the mother, the local authority will get a referral and eventually take the child away whereupon the mother will have to move to a new local authority area to start the scam again. In effect, the council operates a baby refuse collection system for such mothers.

You can also be certain that there will be more than one person who would argue for that woman’s right to have as many children as she likes, whether the child is neglected, abused or even killed, it is the mother’s human rights that matter over all other considerations. The child’s human rights are excused by the platitude it has the gift of life and if it has to suffer abuse or neglect, then there are so many good social workers out there, everything will work out fine in the end, hopefully. But then, it isn’t your problem is it?

So, if from the start a child cannot expect to be protected and cared for until some indeterminate time after it’s birth, what chance will there be for stability later on?

I should point out here that I don’t follow any particular political inclination as I see all current systems as fatally flawed (although not in need of complete removal, just major revision) in terms of providing a social structure that can be relied upon. I should probably post my ‘Third House’ theory of political evolution soon to demonstrate how much of a liberal, socialist, capitalist I am.

Whilst this started off as a rail against the ongoing distortion of a once highly laudable and underdeveloped concept, the welfare system to protect those in need, whichever way I consider anything in this area of society, I always seem to return to the same causes.

So whilst some of the following can be applied to all aspects of social care, I heartily believe that one area of our welfare state could be changed to undermine the continual failures that exist and will continue to undermine an unfairly disregarded portion of our society. Children.

Trust Me, I’m a Professional

Remove self-important, inexperienced and patently incapable people from the sometimes very influential and critical positions they hold in relation to child welfare (this includes judges who are not solely dedicated to and suitably qualified to assess child care cases). Then remove the duty of care for children from the current control by local authorities.

Do any of these confidently announced local authority staff statements sound familiar?

“I have been looking after children for X years, I think I can tell if one is playing me for a fool!” (Just before the child announces their true intentions having played them like the arrogant fool they are)

“My extensive experience caring for neglected children lets me understand and report on exactly what they are going through.” (Just before submitting a wholly factually inaccurate report)

“Even though I have not visited or seen any of the people concerned since that time, according to my files, there is nothing wrong at all in this family home and hasn’t been since I closed the case a year ago. I would have heard otherwise” (Just before being told the child concerned is in hospital following abuse)

“Use this third party private care agency, they’ve just been accredited by the local authority and will be perfect for helping you cope” (Just before the newly adopted and entirely unvetted foreign agency staff steal money from and threaten the person being cared for)

“Following the care and medication I have prescribed, I can certify that this person is now cured of their mental illness and they have assured me they can cope with it in future and I believe them.” (Just following the roundabout course of “Well I can’t care for children properly due to my illness so need more benefits” to “You can’t take my children away due to my illness” to “The doctor has cured me so I can take care of my children again (don’t mention the benefits, don’t mention the benefits, they may not remember to tell the council)”)

So the solution isn’t that easy really but funding aside, how long can we can sit and watch unintelligent, poorly skilled social workers counting time till they get a transfer to a better council department. ‘Learning Center’ staff and mental health professionals ticking the bipolar and depression box, or shouting about how many children they have fixed, giving the all clear on neglected children who aren’t being neglected enough (oh yes, there is a sliding scale and if you’re not suffering enough, you don’t count in the published figures) or most worrying the disassociation between caring and stable biological parent’s relationships with their children by allowing one parent to manipulate the existing official processes.

Are you aware that there is even a special case for closing a care case for children who are continually ‘at risk’ for several years with no improvement to the child’s welfare being achieved? It is unofficially described as “The parent(s) are trailer trash/pikeys/jakeys/(insert local appellation) and we’ve put them on every ‘initiative’ we have. So as we can do no more, case closed.” Helps the neglectful parents teach the children that what they experience with them is all they can expect from life and that it must be ok as the government representatives haven’t put them in foster care. Let’s reenforce negative parental behaviour rather than positive and ensure the children don’t expect anyone to fight their corner. The clarion call from My Name is Earl “I’m not a bad parent, I’ve got two assessments from Child Services that says it’s so.”

It follows the same principle and process of the Social Services ‘expert’ who has been on a course that says they are accredited as someone who is excellent at “Listening to children” (That is a real accreditation social workers hold up as a qualification).

That ‘expert’ standing above the body of a child could quite easily be expected to state categorically that the child could not be dead in front of them as there is a local authority file entry that says there is no problem currently with the child and the means of getting that information was by asking one of the parents how the child was (no, really, you don’t need to see the child in person). This may have been noted in the high profile case recently however the reality is that every local authority has and still does do this to children who are currently being neglected or worse.

Oh to be so good at listening to children and to be able to assess any situation so exactly because none of the processes in place at local authorities can be wrong and any statement told to you by a neglectful parent is taken as gospel truth. What still befuddles me is that with all of these incredible courses social workers attend and all of these expensive ‘initiatives’ that are dreamt up each year, cases of neglect (sorry but the term ‘child in need’ doesn’t cut it for me nor I think should neglect be given less negative terminology) aren’t declining at all.

You can even see how dysfunctional such a system has become in this current day by the fact that the court service of the UK refuses to accept that any local authority process could fail nor that there is any issue with local authorities having resources to deal with the number of social care cases they have to. Even to the degree that when a local authority states for the record that they do not have the resources to deal with a situation, a judge will contradict that and state it to be false. Propping up a faulty system by denying that when the sun is in the sky it is daytime, hardly enhances confidence it will succeed in any future aims.

Please if by chance any of the true social workers and professionals who work in this field are offended at reading what I write, I hope and am fairly sure you know what and who I am portraying and so shouldn’t take offense. The people I have spoken to in many areas of child social care understand the realities of helping and caring, love their job and the people they deal with, however little thanks, praise or dangerous abuse they receive in return. They don’t brandish certificates to prove their ability or arrogantly state their unblemished record in ‘fixing’ children. They get on with the job that is required and provide what help they can regardless of any current government initiative of dubiously funded recent research into child behaviour.

Against such a backdrop, social care and benefits don’t need an overhaul, they need to enact a massive removal from service of the ineffectual and damaging ‘professionals’ who jolly about our nation going on pointless courses, wasting money and children’s lives by following well proven faulty processes and appearing to do so much whilst achieving very little.

A Solution for the Next Generations?

Removal of the care of neglected or ‘at risk’ children from local authority interference should be enacted as soon as possible and a discrete budget assigned to pay for social care for children. This care to be provided at the one place children are or should be from Monday to Friday, at school. The situation of care at a younger age should similarly be removed from local authority control and exist as an NHS governed medical care situation until a child attends school. In this way, the observation from birth to school can then be covered by people qualified and able to consider a child’s health and welfare properly.

With this simple change, the many disconnects that currently exist will instantly be removed. A school, district nurse or doctor can currently be saying “This child is in need of urgent care” yet the local authority can and will state that there is nothing wrong whatsoever as they had completed an assessment six months ago and declared everything to be perfectly fine. If the assessments were taken at the school, home or doctors and not subject to local authority priorities, this would never occur. This will also stop parents from playing one organisation off against the other which currently can cause even more disruption in providing urgent care to children.

Regardless of what fad the many dangerous members of local authority based social care believe that this time really will ‘fix’ everything, the care of children should not be subjected to it. Practice your wild theories on adults and keep the simple principles of bringing as much stability and consistency to neglected children’s lives as is possible. A child doesn’t need to be run through thirty different new ‘initiatives’ in childcare by twenty different social or charity workers. That purely enforces the inconstancy of things around them and more likely results in more feelings of instability in their environment. In this if nothing else, the state should be able to be deemed worthy of taking care of those whose parents will or can not.

In some ways you can equate it to how a child plays. Take your young child to a park and push them on a swing. Are they begging to go and play on a computer? In the same way, the emotional, physical and developmental needs of children haven’t changed just because Samsung have released a new phone or tablet. The people who are all for the latest initiative developed by detailed scientific analysis of child behaviour are probably the same ones who state that children do nothing more than play computer games and use Facebook. (Daily Mail anyone?) Obviously, the children one sees playing at the park, adventure playgrounds, skateboard parks and leisure centers just don’t realise what is expected of them. Children don’t need the latest sound bite from a politician announcing an empty aim, they need a system that works for those whose parent(s) fail them.

I’m adding in a quote here because as I was reading it again recently, I was struck by the perceptive view that the author once again portrayed, 18 years ago! Tom Sharpe whose undeniably disturbing, yet hilarious novels about the South African Police got him deported from SA, had similarly little regard for the people I am lambasting here. I feel he summed up their approach to normal people and the immense damage they are enacting on the bedrock of society in this description;

“A miasma of mixed emotions and bitter hatred of anything faintly fond or normal seemed to hang over them. Cruelty and sadism were their specialities and they were infected with them. Suffused with guilt about massacres and droughts in faraway places, they appeased their worthless consciences by doing worthless things. And blamed society for everything. Or God. Or men and parents who loved and disciplined their children to be polite and civil and to work at school. Above all they blamed sex but never ceased to slobber at their own proclivities.” Tom Sharpe, The Midden, 1996.

You may be fortunate enough to be a parent whose child never experiences the work of these people involved in social care or you may be a child who came only as close to them as saving some money in your Banardos house moneybox. Think on this though; if you are worried about walking down your street tonight due to the ‘thugs’ you see hanging about. They probably did meet with this type of person and if they hadn’t felt so disregarded by always being dealt with in such an empty fashion, they might not have just stolen your car/handbag/wallet/phone…

As with many aspects of modern social experiments that could do with the same approach being returned to without abandoning the modernity of life, what was once considered observable common sense is often released as the findings of the latest scientific research. It is not a case of requiring a back to basics, more a case of back to simple reality.

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