Friday 8 September 2017

Not Being Ill Enough To Be Good Enough

Not Being Ill Enough To Be Good Enough mental illness depression anxiety NHS treatment

At school, I was involved in all kinds of competitions. Skipping, sports day and reading challenges to name a few. I still have all the certificates stored away in a dusty box in my attic somewhere. The general premise of most competitions is that you had to be good enough to win. Which I'm sure most people would agree with unless you're one of those who believes that every kid should get a medal for taking part kind of person.

I generally thought I left those competition days behind me when I hung up my school blazer for the last time. Turns out, I didn't. And it seems that more and more people with mental health problems are experiencing the same. Whether that be in heated disagreements on Twitter about who has had it worse or more importantly, when trying to access fundamental life-saving support.


( Trigger warning: This post contains mentions of suicide, which some readers may find distressing) 

Too many people are being turned away from the expert care and support they need for their mental health problems because they are "not ill enough to be good enough" Of course, it's never phrased like that by professionals, but it's essentially what they are saying. 

If you struggle with a mild to moderate mental health problem, say you have depression that's interfering with your daily life, but it has not stopped you managing to get to school, work or get on with coping the best you can. If it has not driven you to severe self-harm or suicide attempts, then frankly, if you do try to seek help, you probably find a prescription for Prozac in your hands in a blink of an eye and sent on your way. 

Because well frankly, there are people with bigger, more serious problems, who need urgent care and prioritised. If you're trying to get on top of a mental health issue before it spirals out of control, your kind of punished for doing so. Your problem is only worth a prescription of antidepressants and if your lucky a place on the end of a waiting list for CBT that never actually ends. 

I don't think it takes a genius to work out that the NHS is tackling the mental health crisis in the wrong way!

Not Being Ill Enough To Be Good Enough mental illness health depression anxiety

If you have any mental health problem, whatever the severity you should be given help and support, immediately after you ask for it. No excuses. Letting people suffer and struggle with very little help, who originally only had mild to moderate mental health problems, opens a dangerous gate for those problems which were reasonably easy to treat, spiral out of control into much more severe problems. 

We have all brushed problems and issues under the carpet before, whether they be mental health related or not. I know I've not revised particular subject because I found them the hardest. We all know this doesn't work and eventual,y it catches up with us. But for medical professionals to do that, it's just unthinkable.

You can't just pretend that if you ignore it, it will go away. That the patient will just suddenly wake up better the next day and not need any help or support, no more. It just doesn't work like that. ALL mental health problems need to be taken seriously and dealt with professionally, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

I would really like to end my post there, but I can't. Because it's not just those with mild to moderate mental health problems, being denied the care and support, they so rightly deserve. Those who have severe mental health problems are being turned away too. 

Many people go to A&E, at the lowest point in their lives, feeling suicidal and depressed. They tell staff they have a plan and the truth about what they are feeling. They are made to wait for hours, in what can be a hectic and crazy place, yet, when assessed are told to go home. Often because there just aren't enough beds for them. If there is a space in secure mental health ward, it is at the other end of the God damn country.

How is this acceptable? At what point does anyone think it is okay to send someone who is suicidal home and told to make a doctors appointment, the next day? Don't get me wrong, this unprecedented lack of resources is down to the government's lack of funding. I don't blame the individuals who have to decide to send someone who desperately needs help home. I would not like to find myself in that position ever, it must be truly heartbreaking. 

See here how the same problem is resurfacing? You're not ill enough to be good enough. You have to have hit a mental health crisis, which apparently being suicidal isn't sufficient. You have to have attempted to take your own life? Is that what it now takes for people to get the help and support they need, which in most cases should have got months or even years before. In 2017, how is that even a thing? I'm completely dumbfounded. 

I feel sick to my stomach to think that this is the way our NHS mental health services are going. If I've highlighted one point in this post, it is that prevention is key. Suicide and suicide attempts are always preventable. As much as it is the responsibility of sufferers to take medications, to make positive changes to their lifestyle, etc. it is also the duty of medical and mental health professionals to provide them with the resources and tools they need, to make the necessary steps towards recovery.

Of course, everyone's local mental health trusts will perform differently, and your experiences will always be different to that of others. But I'm sick of hearing the same story over and over again. People being let down again and again by the NHS mental health services because you never are "ill enough to be good enough" leaving many in a dangerous position of wondering what they have to do to be ill enough, to get the support they so desperately need.

Have you experienced the 'Not ill enough to be good enough' phenomenon? Please share your experiences in the comments, down below.  

Thank you for reading, as always X

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