Skip to main content

Sometimes we all just need a hug, says service user

A plea to bring more “humanity” into caring has been made by Graham Morgan, Manager of Inverness-based user group HUG (Action for Mental Health).

He was describing the psychiatrists, nurses and social workers who helped him during his months of detention.

“I wanted to go up to all of them, to give them all a hug, a great big joyous hug to say thank you for keeping me alive when I didn’t want that,” he told the International Federation of Social Workers’ European Conference in Edinburgh.

“But I didn’t do that because even when people like you save my life, I cannot give thanks except in the most subtle ways.”

Mr Morgan has diagnosis of schizophrenia and has experienced depression and anxiety. He was first sectioned 25 years ago and has been detained under a compulsory community treatment order for the past five and half years.

He recalled a community psychiatric nurse telling him that hugging clients could lead to disciplinary action. Yet one day a member of staff did give him a hug.

“It wasn’t anything more than a communication of humanity but in that action, which someone observed, she was forbidden from working with me again while I was in hospital.

“It was because I was vulnerable, and people who are vulnerable are subject to abuse if non-vulnerable people touch them, and that made me very lonely.”

Mr Morgan said that when he feels “desperate and hurting” a large part of him just wants to be held and comforted.

“I am not your client, I am your brother; I am not a drug addict, I am your mother; I am not incapacitated, I am your boss; I am not mentally ill, I am your best friend,” he said.

“You need to remember that each time you take away my freedom, each time you say it is wrong to hug me, each time you decide how much coffee I can drink and at what time I should eat my tea.

“Sometimes you will need to take such decisions and I will hate them. But I will still be your brother and hoping that someone somewhere will listen to me and hold me - because I am lost and lonely and in need of love and humanity.”