THE BLOG

We Need a New Approach to Tackle Our Mental Health Epidemic

24/11/2015 12:30 GMT | Updated 23/11/2016 10:12 GMT

A huge amount of people across the planet have been suffering the bloodcurdling agony of mental illness. It has never been more important to address the issue of mental health inequality than it is now.

The effects of mental health on our global society is has become much bigger, from suicide to depression and what we do in the next ten years could either avert crisis or cause further inequality creating catastrophe and adding burning fuel to this global pandemic.

Looking more domestically at the issue of mental health and the multitudinous amount of young and old people suffering from mental illness it is easy to see we need an answer now. From my travels meeting numerous amounts of young people I can see clear flaws in areas such as education, prison services and mental health services.

Starting with education, some major public schools such as Eton College are starting to change the way they do things due to pupils suffering stress, depression and self-harm. There has been a huge rise in There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self-harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%. In comprehensive schools we see year on year pupils falling out of education due to the lack of comprehensive support in schools. One girl; age 16 from an inner city school in London told me "I feel alone, no extra support available in my school and I sometimes feel the only answer is to drop out," the damming painful meltdown that young people are finding themselves in should be and can be stopped by supplying and investing in more mental health support in schools. We are seeing some action on this; Alistair Burt MP and Steve Brine MP are doing some excellent work in government on creating more understanding in schools and more resources for teachers. Many teachers feel even more needs to be done to stop a young person's potential being wasted.

In Prison services; young offender's institutions are being filled with young people that simply shouldn't be there. The crushing statistic is that 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder. Many of them are struggling with more than one disorder. So the question ask is why are vulnerable young human beings who are in the middle of the greatest fight of their life's being thrown into our prison system with no mental health support. They need compassion and hope in a time when life doesn't feel full of it.

That leads me to the enormous inequality's found in our health services; our mental health services are crumbling and our local commissioning groups struggling to understand the complex changes in commissioning implemented by the Department of Health (DoH,) but the number one objective of our mental health services should be to help young and old suffering from mental health issues. I talked to Jonathan; age 19, he said "I'm in limbo, this congested and underfunded system that was supposed to help me has left me behind after the age of eighteen, I was told I was on my own," so the future of mental health services will only be a stronger, compassionate and hopeful one if we invest, understand, change.

If we invest in all of these areas we can start to see savings, mental health costs the economy £105.2 Billion a year. We need to invest to save, if we invest £10 billion in our services we can see people getting better, back into work and living happy lives but that doesn't come from underinvestment, lack of understanding and without a new approach to mental health.

As John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) said all those years ago while discussing mental health "the mentally ill may no longer be alienated to our compassion." That is what we are fighting for that is why I and so many others spend time talking and listen and striving for stronger unity on the issue of mental health. This is our time.