Friday, 14 July 2017

An Open Letter To NHS Mental Health Services

An Open Letter To NHS Mental Health Services depression support help blogger UK anxiety cuts funding article news

In 2017, I can not fathom why so many young people are let down by the mental health services in the UK, alone. Why on earth 57% of trust bosses admit they are not meeting the needs of troubled teenagers and young people? (Source) Why a six to 18-month waiting list is seen as acceptable for treatment? Or the most worrying at all, why no one seems to be able to do anything about it? 

I ask you this, how many people die of a broken leg each year? Practically none because the waiting time for treatment is, well there isn't a waiting time for treatment. 

Now compare that to suicide. How many people die from taking their own lives as a result of depression or other mental health problems? According to WHO (The World Health Organisation), they estimate one million people in the world, every single year dies by suicide. Because waiting lists are unfairly long and individuals are denied the help they so desperately need. 

As a tear trickles down my face and my chin begins to wobble as I sit and think of all the preventable deaths to suicide which unfold every single day. How many beautiful souls and how much outstanding talent has gone to waste because no one wants to recognise the epidemic we have in this country or even across the world.  

Knowing my local mental health crisis team is rated 'inadequate' feels me with dread and fear. When an individual is at their most vulnerable, they deserve more than substandard care. If an individual turns up at A&E with a psychical health problem, which is dangerous and putting their life at risk, they are likely to get seen and treated as a matter of urgency.

But the same can't be said for someone who is suicidal, yet their life is in as much danger. Being told to wait, hours, upon hours for help and support, for when that does finally arrive to be told, there isn't anything they can do, to go home and book an appointment with their doctor the next day, is frankly just not good enough. 

You wouldn't say that to some who are losing an alarming amount of blood, who has just been in a serious RTC so why and how is it any different for an individual who you assess incorrectly as safe and well, who will likely never make it to that doctor's appointment the following day.

I'm not stupid, I know, the sweat, blood and tears, NHS staff put into to caring for their patients, often going above and beyond what is required of them. But they can only do so much. Without the funding, to improve care, accessibility and waiting times, they really can't do much at all. It's like playing tennis without a racket, pretty useless. If you don't have the adequate resources, your just not going to be at your best.

The Tory governments, attitudes to mental health, is all based on broken promises. Teresa May can shout and scream all day about how we can no longer tolerate the lack of care and treatment for those struggling with their mental health, all day long. She can promise and promise all she wants, but at the end of the day, when her job is on the line, and cuts need to be made, it's always towards the people on the fringes of society, which includes those struggling with their mental health.

How many people need to die as a result of constant cuts resulting in poor mental health care and support for someone, for anyone to do anything about it?

Why isn't mental health education taught as a compulsory subject in schools? Why are public sector jobs always facing constant cuts, pushing them to the breaking point, having a catastrophic impact on the patients who need care and treatment so badly? 

It's disgusting if you ask me. Utterly unacceptable. A week doesn't go by when there isn't a negative headline in the newspapers or press about mental health services, here in the UK. How many more journalists have to sit down and write about the shambles and disordered chaos that is our mental health services?

My heart goes out to anyone who works in mental health services. The job can be stressful and challenging enough at the best of times yet with the added pressure of constant cuts looming over their shoulder every day as a put their blue lanyard over their neck. People work in mental health services because they want to support some of the most vulnerable in society, and help them find the light at the end of the tunnel, beating their mental illness one small step at a time. 

They don't want to be faced with the guilt, anymore, of knowing they just don't have the services and tools to be able to support those struggling with their mental health, the best they can. As a patient, I don't want to have to wait months and months for help, pushing me further and further towards breaking point. I don't want to be turned away when I need help the most. 

I think I speak on behalf of everyone who has had access to NHS mental health services. We want to feel safe, secure and well looked after. We want to know that when we go to the doctor about a mental health problem, treatment is as safe, swift and professional as if we had a physical health problem. 

We don't want to be referred from one system to the next. We don't want to have to constantly repeat our story over and over again, to different people. We don't want a service where the quality of care you receive is purely based on your postcode. 

Instead, we want holistic, professional and organised care, where we know we won't have to wait months and months for treatment. 

I don't know what I can do. I don't think there is much else I can do about it. I'm just a millennial, worried about the future of our mental health services. Worried for my future children and grandchildren.

I do believe change is possible. But change is only possible if we fight for what we believe in and if the Queen of U-turns, doesn't go back on her promises. Follow through with something for make mental health services, here in the UK better for all. 

Thanks for reading, as always X 

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  1. This post hit me hard. My uncle suffered with really bad mental health for years. He was in and out of our local mental hospital. The final time he was in there they discharged him the day before christmas eve, told us that he was mentally stable and was fine. A month later he sadly committed suicide. If only the mental health system was a little better he could of possibly still been here xx

  2. This is so necessary. Thank you for saying this.
    I work with teenagers. I know of teens who have been told they are not suicidal enough to warrant treatment. I've known teenagers pumped with pills when really what they wanted was someone to talk to. Last week, I know of a 15 year old who took his life.
    We must hold our government accountable to this. This is NOT acceptable.

  3. I attempted to get treatment for depression and anxiety when I was 18 and was told it would be an at least 18 month waiting list unless I went private, which at 18 and unemployed I was unable to do. It is highly unacceptable to leave anyone that long let alone a young person who is struggling with their mental health. Also I think there should be a wider variety of treatments/options. I was told I would have to go to CBT when what I wanted was intensive therapy. Let's keep our fingers crossed that a change for the better will come x

    Much love x


  4. This post is so important. I almost feel like my emotions and mental health problems have been, and are currently, irrelevant due to the lack of understanding from some GP's and also the lengthy waiting times for something as small as a CBT appointment. I'm not suicidal, i am not at breaking point however i don't feel good and i don't know how to get out of this spiral? I've seeked private counselling because i need to start moving forward, and the NHS simply are not fulfilling my needs at the moment. I've already waited 3 months for CBT/counselling and have another 4 to wait, which i know is typical all around the country, but i feel i simply can't go on without trying to make myself feel better so i've taken matters into my own hands. The NHS has to step up their game because not everyone can afford frequent counselling/therapy sessions, as money is tight for students these days and families have so many bills to pay. I hope we will hear positive news headlines about the mental health system in this country, but until then, there are always people that care - friends, family, and even people you will have never met - so don't give up no matter what.

    Steph /

  5. I really identify with what you've written in this post - thank you. I began struggling with my mental health at the age of 15. I'm now nearly 29 and still struggle every day. My mental health team discharged me last year with no plan, no follow-up and no support. Since then I just feel like I've been trying to keep treading water and not drown. I recently went into a mental health crisis and the support (or lack of it) was, quite frankly, disgusting. I was referred to the crisis team, who didn't even assess me before saying they couldn't help. I told my GP I couldn't keep myself safe, to be told there was nothing she could do. I begged and begged for help, but was just turned away and not listened to. When you feel suicidal, asking for help is a massive thing, so to have that request belittled and rejected can be life threatening. I've had to now pay for a private therapist with money I don't have - it was either that or die. And like you say, it shouldn't be like this. I have so much respect for people who work within the NHS. I know how hard they work and, generally, how much they care. But they and we are being let down every single day by a government who refuse to invest in our nation's mental health. Sad as it is, we all need to keep shouting about this until someone listens and changes something. Writing posts like this can only be a good thing in the fight to improve treatment for everyone.

    Jenny xx

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