The Mental Nurse blog, in which so many of us have been involved in one way or another for some time, is dead. It passed away on Friday, before being all-too-quickly reincarnated as some dirgey piece of spam holding crap.
The demise of the Madosphere’s favourite blog was not caused by anything particularly sinister – it is understood that there was a problem in renewing the domain name, and in the brief time that the URL was unregistered, someone else came in and stole it. Frustrating as fuck, certainly, but essentially just very unfortunate luck.
I am in mourning, as I know many others must be. So I thought I’d write a little tribute.
Mental Nurse (MN) had a certain curiosity to it. It was written mainly by…well, by mental nurses (or trainee mental nurses), yet a substantial number of its readers were us lot, the patients. In this way, it was able to bring about a respectful and equal dialogue between these two often disconnected demographics. This was a forum where (in the main!) courteous and empathetic discussion and the swapping of ideas and stories took place, undoubtedly (a) improving the practice and client-understanding of the staff involved and (b) giving us patients a better idea of what goes on behind the closed doors of the offices of CMHTs and psychiatric wards/hospitals, coupled with the knowledge that not all mental health practitioners are ogres
Another function of the blog was the bringing of patients together. Because it was so popular in the sphere of mental health blogging, we could all get together in the comments sections and talk to each other, discovering new blogs, new people, and ultimately new friends. As many long-term readers of this blog will be aware, in August there was a mass-meeting of mentals in London: whilst this was not directly spurred by MN, certainly the sense of community on the site had initially brought some of the people concerned together online. Zarathustra (Z), who at the time was the main contributor to the site (and later the Editor, after Mental Nurse himself retired), was at the occasion and bought me a pint. He is held in high esteem for this generous action.
No where was the sense of community more evident than in the weekly This Week in Mentalists (TWIM) round-ups, where the best of that week’s writing across the Madosphere was featured. I, along I’m sure with others, used to wait in foot-tapping impatience each Saturday, desperate for my regular dose of TWIM. The series’ importance culminated (from 2008 to 2010 inclusive) in the annual TWIM Awards, the recipients of which were decided by MN’s multitude of readers.
My two personal favourite memories of TWIM were (a) the first time I was included on it, because I was surprised that anyone cared what I had to say; and (b) when I got my very first blog award, a runners-up place in 2009′s awards. I actually won two (!) awards from the site at the end of 2010, which was beyond amazing – but the first one will always stick in my head particularly.
TWIM was certainly one of MN’s more popular endeavours, but there were a number of other series that merit recognition. In the last year or so, Z wrote regular analyses on the debate on the regulation on psychotherapy, which were very insightful and informative. There were also regular critiques on the dire standards and poor practices in mental health services in certain NHS Trusts (something about which I, as you might well imagine, am pretty passionate!). The site offered commentary on the political and social issues surrounding mental health issues, both from its core team of staff and from guest writers. And although I never participated much – because I’m not very good at off the cuff humour – I always enjoyed the results of the semi-regular caption competitions.
The very lovely UselessCPN has written up This Week in Mentalists for this week. I’m not sure what, if anything, will become of it in the long-term; maybe those of us that were MN devotees can host it temporarily until it finds a permanent home again…who knows. Time will tell.
What I do know is that Zarathustra and the wider Mental Nurse project will be greatly missed by so many people. I wish my best to all the personnel who made it into the successful, informative and witty site – and, indeed, community – that it was, and commend its memory to you, good readers.
What are you favourite memories?