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Humane Clinic and Just Listening in the UK - DAY 1

Updated: Apr 13

The Humane Clinic and Just Listening in the UK – Blog 1

This blog/vlog will chronicle our time in London, where we will be facilitating and sharing the Just Listening approach within a public mental health service.

In Australia, the current state of mental health services is marked by a persistent effort to uphold the status quo, by governments, professional groups, and the same individuals sitting at the same tables of power. This approach, driven by political correctness and neoliberalism, fails to adequately support community members facing life challenges. Instead of recognizing these individuals as fellow community members experiencing difficulties, they are often labelled as ‘mentally ill’ and directed towards professional support that may well not exist as advertised.

While this perspective may be criticized as cynical, especially in the face of the positive narratives often promoted on social media, the reality is harsh for anyone experiencing emotional distress. For those who are labelled, coerced, and sometimes gaslighted into accepting the mental health system’s ‘treatments’, the experience can be inhumane and barbaric. This is not a criticism of individuals working in mental health, but rather a commentary on the often-harmful approaches that are imposed.

Regarding Just Listening, it’s noteworthy that both previous and current governments in South Australia (SA) have been presented with financial plans demonstrating significant savings (in the millions of dollars) through funding a community-led alternative in the Just Listening Community. Despite these plans, using the government’s own data, and projecting substantial savings, successive governments have chosen to maintain the status quo, with only minor changes, but changes that can be exaggerated and highlighted on social media.

The opportunity to bring Just Listening to London is bittersweet; while it brings hope and excitement, it also brings sadness that the South Australian government, where the approach was developed and proven effective, lacks the courage to fund this change, despite the detailed savings.

It is incredibly exciting, then, to be collaborating with a government health service and individuals in the UK who are striving to develop humane, relational, and dialogical approaches to supporting humans in distress. As part of the Open Dialogue Westminster pilot and wider project, I will be in London to facilitate and teach Just Listening to teams of professionals, volunteers, executive teams, and other staff.

Read more about the Open Dialogue pilot and Just Listening

Open Dialogue Newsletter 2 matt edit
Download PDF • 377KB

During the trip, I will also be meeting with friends and colleagues from various organizations, including the Westminster Integrated Care Board, Health Care Central London, Imperial College London, and SAOS University London, to discuss and explore the broader implementation of Just Listening in the London community.

This daily blog/vlog will document our journey as Humane Clinic Australia has the privilege to share the work done at the Christies Beach Just Listening Community and Humane Clinic. Berny, Rory, and I have delivered and demonstrated the value of the Just Listening approach in Australia. The volunteers at the Just Listening Community in Christies Beach, through their incredible love, compassion, and work, have shown their humanity and ability to offer connection, compassion, mutuality, and skilful responses to other community members in distress. This project offers an alternative to the prevalent practice of directing people experiencing common human emotional distress to public health settings.

In a time when human expression and emotion are increasingly categorized as ‘mental health’ issues, it’s important to remember that these are common human experiences, and that there are more humane and effective ways to support individuals in distress – and this is from one human to another.

For those who are categorized, pressured, and at times manipulated into accepting the treatments offered by the mental health system, the experience can often be harsh and dehumanizing. This is not an indictment of the individuals working within the mental health sector, but rather a critique of the frequently detrimental methods that are enforced.

There is an alternative and the alternative is already amongst us. It is called being human together.


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