This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s always great to get conversations flowing and people opening up. But the fact is mental illness affects people all year round and these issues hit as many as 1 in 4 of us around the UK each year. Raising awareness helps to reduce stigma and allows people to become more understanding towards the difficulties that sufferers face. This enables people to better recognise the mental health of the people around them as well as themselves. It can also help to teaching different self care methods that are essential in maintaining good levels of mental health.
While it is great to get people spreading the word and sharing their experiences of what worked for them, you cannot deny that some mental illnesses need professional treatment. Personally I accessed services through the crisis team after suffering with my mental health for sometime. I was diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and spent sometime with the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) accessing treatment including going to therapy and finding the right medication. Without doing these things I genuinely do not know where I would be today. This treatment was essential as part of my ongoing recovery and no amount of just walking, talking or a bit of self care could have got me out of that deep, dark place I was in at that particular time. I needed that professional element alongside peer support and self care to guide me through recovery.
Despite being lucky enough to have an overall positive experience through NHS services whilst living in my hometown I suddenly found it extremely hard when I moved just 40 miles up the road. I lost all my support through services. I had to go to my GP and get referred for an assessment by the CMHT in my new city. At the assessment my notes were not to be found and the doctor disregarded my diagnosis BPD due to the fact I have a job and a boyfriend (wtf?). I went back to my GP to complain about the matter and it was suggested that I seek further diagnosis via private treatment if I have the means to do so. I was in shock.
Mental health is not a privilege and nor should it be. Yet all too often I hear so many people telling their story of how they had to go private for their mental health treatment due to the NHS waiting lists being simply too long. A case of life or death. But for many the costs of private treatment is simply not an option. In my case I’m classed as too ‘high-functioning’ to even receive treatment for a mental health problem from the NHS. Is this how we treat people in our society? Somebody who appears to ‘present well’ and ‘in work’ cannot have a ‘severe mental health problem’? If anybody has the courage the reach out and say I am struggling then you should be working with that person to resolve their issues. Mental illness and the ability to work do not go hand in hand. These reasons are why so many people are pushed to the extremes of turning up in A&E’s to express their psychiatric problems. Services are overstretched and underfunded and it is affecting those that need it most. So yes, keep the conversation going but when will the funding come? There has been many blogs and articles detailing what you can do for your mental health but what if we asking for help from services that simply do not have the resources?
Mental health and social funding has been cut under Theresa May and the Conservatives. With the general election coming up, if this is something you care about you really should be looking at party policies. It pains me to think we could endure another five years of Tory cuts. Make sure you are registered to vote, do your research and use your vote wisely. If your not sure what’s going with the election right now keep an eye out as the manifesto’s will be out next week!
If you haven’t registered to vote or you aren’t sure you can click this link. Make sure you register before the 22nd May! Every vote matters on June 8th. Have your say.