A ‘humorous’ article on Care Farms.

I recognise that this is meant to be amusing. But as someone who is about to become a cofarmer, I find the article below offensive. As someone with mental health problems I find it offensive. As a human being I find it offensive. In short, I am offended.

Some background on Care Farms.

Update 01.10.10. I’ve sent Pulse a wee note. Maybe you’d like to as well?

From Pulse Magazine – for GPs

Feeling down on the farm

22 Sep 10

“A scheme to treat depressed patients to a few afternoons of milking and muck-spreading is as hare-brained as it gets, says Copperfield


I’d thought, hoped even, that the recession and the inevitable cuts to frontline services that will follow might rid us of hare-brained ideas that do nothing except chomp away at the NHS cake. But then I came across a scheme designed to lift the spirits of melancholic patients by treating them to a few days out on a farm.

Anyone living within welly-throwing distance of Ipswich and feeling a bit down in the dumps can ask their GP (who is ideally placed, etc, etc) to refer them to Farmer Giles’s homestead for a few afternoons of milking and muck-spreading. Which rather ignores the obvious fact that each and every depressed patient on the books will exclude themselves by claiming to be ‘allergic to dairy’.

But that apart, what’s not to like? It might encourage the punters to take an interest in agriculture – it could even reduce their tendency to mount phobic avoidance responses at the first mention of fruit and veg. Although if a heartsink did happen to be bitten by the organic produce bug there isn’t a lot of farming to take an interest in around Basildon – not counting the ubiquitous cultivation of cannabis in the loft, of course.

‘Lettuce and lovage’ is one thing, livestock is something very different. OK, we’ve all seen the research showing that keeping a pet dog or cat is good for Grandma’s mental health. But anybody proposing that the benefits might be proportional to the size of the animal is talking complete bullocks, even when you factor in the substantial savings in follow-up costs when you replace Purrikins with a Bengal tiger.

And then there are the health risks inherent in every trip to the farm. As sure as free-range eggs are well, just eggs, at least a dozen of the participants are bound to succumb to E. Coli or Campylobacter infections after petting the cute ickle lamby-wambies or stroking the nice horsey.

Click here to find out more!

Not to mention the possibility that the Wurzels might turn up, knock off an impromptu rendition of Combine ’arvester and provoke the depressed into enacting a tragic suicide pact.

You might accuse me of getting soft in my old age, but I really don’t want to see any of my serotonin-depleted melon farmers chucking themselves under the wheels of a passing tractor or into the jaws of the threshing machine in a plot line that would even make the script editors of The Archers pause for a reality check.

Why worry? It’s far more likely that I’d see them making a beeline for Ye Olde Worlde Home-Made Fudge Shoppe in the converted barn for some serious comfort food, followed by some even more serious purging and vomiting.

We could scale the whole thing down, I suppose. ‘Mrs Glum, would you prefer your repeat prescription for Prozac or a hamster this month?’

It’s just a shame that we’ll never be able to properly take it to a grander scale… include trips to the zoo, county agricultural shows or American state fairs. I can just imagine the YouTube footage of my heartsinks dodging violently-hurled chimpanzee droppings in Regents Park or wrestling grizzly bears in Wyoming.

Now, that would be worth shelling out for the cost of their hotels and transport, recession or no recession.”

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex.


13 thoughts on “A ‘humorous’ article on Care Farms.

  1. Pulse has now printed Anne Marie’s comment (thank you for posting it Anne Marie) – though with the following disappointing reply from the editor –
    Anne marie Cunningham | 29 Sep 10
    I know that Dr. Copperfield is a fictional character but this column is unacceptable in its depiction of those with mental health problems. I think that the authors and editor should remove this article and apologise for its publication in the first place. Its publication has caused distress to a considerable number of people including myself.

    Editor’s comment
    I’m sorry you found the column offensive. I’d certainly acknowledge it was near the knuckle, but Copperfield has become so popular because of the column’s hard-edged and satirical take on general practice, and its willingness to articulate views other GPs might be unwilling to discuss openly. I therefore feel it’s important to keep the column as free from censorship as possible, even when it’s inevitable that a column will upset some readers.

  2. Pingback: A short note to Pulse Magazine « Mind In Flux

  3. There are (or have been) quite a few GPs in England who write pseudonymous columns basically slagging off their patients. There was a whole book released recently called “Confessions of a GP” which detailed his patients dubious personal hygiene, repeated complaints about conditions like “chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia” which are all in the mind, don’t you know, and there was a GP who went under the name Dr Crippen (after a serial killer), who finally pushed it too far in a column on doctor-assisted dying, in which he claimed that a young woman who had OD’d after spending more than 16 years bedridden, in agony, unable to speak or swallow or stand human company for more than a few minutes at a time, had an illness which “many doctors recognise only as a mis-named psychiatric condition” (myalgic encephalomyelitis or M.E.).

    These doctors give their profession a bad name as nobody ever knows if their doctor is having a good laugh at their expense behind their back.

  4. Psuedonym or not there is an air of cynicism throughout that can only be based upon a complete lack of understanding of the benefits of meaningful activity in depression.

    I can understand why the real authors choose to hide behind the Copperfield persona. After all they have done a brilliant hatchet job on themselves – unsurprisingly they are unprepared to put their names to it.

    Such an appaling article. Such a mean spirited sense of humour. Such a cowardly use of a psuedonym.

    Stuart (not a psuedonym) Sorensen

  5. Pingback: Society daily 29.09.10 | United Kingdom Society News

  6. This is really upsetting. I find it hard to understand how it could have been printed to be honest. Humour has its’ place but not in ridicule and derision.

  7. Pingback: Society daily 29.09.10 | UmeedainTimes.com

  8. I don’t read Pulse, or these columns, and I am a GP. As far as I am aware. Dr Tony Copperfield is a fictional character column written by two GPs. But this is no excuse- the content of the article is unacceptable and I can’t understand how it has been published. It is not appropriate for any audience. I can assure you that I don’t know a single doctor who would think this is acceptable.

  9. I find it horrifying that a medical practitioner can refer to patients suffering from mental illness in such derisory terms. Referring to patients as “heartsinks” and “mrs glum”, and taking the mickey out of eating disorders shows a horrifying lack of humanity, let alone professional understanding of mental illness.
    A revolting article.

  10. What benefit does he possibly hope to achieve by writing such as thing? Beyond ostracising himself from the very patients he is supposed to be serving who, as HH astutely points out, have a much higher risk of paranoia than the general population anyway.

    Aside from ingratiating himself with likeminded people in the GP community (and shame on them) there seems to be no purpose for this.

  11. The writer is making a mockery of exactly the people that will be turning to him for help. How can any patient feel that GP’s have any concerns for their health, if they believe that behind their backs, once they leave the consulting room, that the care giver that they have of need to open up to is going to denigrate and abuse their trust and illness in such a crass way.
    Many with MH issues already have issues of self esteem, and some will have that coupled with paranoia. How then will such a patient be able to trust their GP having read that and believing that those views are held my many if not the majority of them?
    This man should be struck off. The more I think about it, the angrier I get.


  12. I’m totally confused as to what on earth Dr Copperfield is aiming to communicate in this article. He seems to have no understanding of the potential therapuetic benefits of such a scheme. More worryingly he refers to people sufferring from depression in the following ways:
    – a bit down in the dumps
    – the punters
    – a heartsink
    – serotonin-depleted melon farmers
    – Mrs Glum

    I’m assuming the following is an attempt at a joke: ‘an impromptu rendition of Combine ’arvester and provoke the depressed into enacting a tragic suicide pact.’

    This article is totally lacking in anything resembling ‘good taste’. It is offensive, showing zero respect for people with mental health problems.

    The only good thing is that this GP is not my doctor.

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