Letters

Published: 10/10/2002, Volume II2, No.5826 Page 22 23

As chief executive of the thinly disguised 'angry charity' highlighted by Matt Muijen in his piece on the draft mental health bill (Community spirit, 26 September), I want to respond to some of his erroneous opinions.

His first criticism is based on inaccurate facts. Mind's recent survey, highlighted as potentially suspect in the article, was carried out by NOP - a well respected polling agency - using an audience selected by them and a question they developed from our brief to ensure accurate and unbiased results.

I also found Mr Muijen's critical view of our campaign work strange as on the two occasions we have discussed Mind and its future role in my 15 months as chief executive, he urged us to be more robust and public in campaigning.

In setting out the need for a 'middle' area of discourse, he is not unique. He reflects the same view I expressed in a meeting he attended shortly after the end of the consultation period on the proposals. Indeed, many others involved in this debate from all sides have recognised this need.

To omit this perspective in his article is unfair to the many 'sensible' leaders who are genuinely keen to find solutions that sensibly progress the debate.

Mind's work on the draft bill has two thrusts - highlighting concerns shared by many, in addition to constructive dialogue through policy work and discussions with the government and others to provide an effective joint reform of the Mental Health Act.

Interestingly, while critical of the government's recent proposals and processes, I (unlike Mr Muijen, apparently) have no doubt of ministers' and officials' desire for good mental health legislation - I just think they have not yet got it right.

The role Mind has adopted seems to be one overwhelmingly endorsed by mental health service users and others actively involved in Mind. Mind is primarily funded on individual donations. We survive based on donors' belief in what we do.

I am not ashamed of being chief executive of an 'angry' charity, passionate about the user experience. After all, service users have often been let down by governments, health services and even charities. Now that is a cause to get angry about, albeit in a constructive and sensible way!

Richard Brook Chief executive Mind