Mental health care in England and beyond Is hitting a real point of Crisis. Over the last few decades and in particular the last decade we have seen an increase in the visibility of Mental Health problems due to the hard work of charities and other organisations channelling energy into the education of the nation, relentlessly stamping out the stigma surrounding such illnesses. To me the Mental Health Services in England have always been, like the rest of the NHS, vastly underfunded. I have been under the care of the NHS for various Mental Health conditions from entry point via my GP initially in 2010 it started with depression and soon came to realisation that anxiety was a major player and something I had experienced throughout my lifetime, the depression seemed to take hold after my Grandads passing in summer of 2010.
Six years of lived experience with various aspects of the Mental Health Services as a patient gives a pretty good insight to what works and what doesn't work and I can confirm that a 20 week wait for CBT is really not what you need when you're suffering from intense bouts of depression and anxiety to the point it's affecting your work, relationships and consuming your life. The one thing that is really problematic is the interchanging of treatments and being bounced around to different health care professionals' week in week out for various reason. When you are in a state of anxiety the one thing you need is stability, routine and familiarity.
After starting university, I was swiftly diagnosed with Dyslexia which was a surprise to many. In addition, ADHD was brought up. The ADHD was a real issue as it was revealed to be the likely cause of the anxiety and depression. It also brought my entire life to a standstill on many occasions including ending my Degree without it being Completed as well as bringing my 'new life' down south to an abrupt ending after 3 months of spiralling out of control and more recently causing me to be signed off from a brand new job just four days after starting the role.
My ADHD highlighted for me the extreme problems the NHS faces. My recent attempt to pursue diagnosis began in December 2014 when I requested a referral from my GP, I was initially assessed by the mental health team in May 2015, I was then referred to the Adult ADHD clinic upon chasing up the situation I was told I was on the waiting list and it would take 9 months to be seen. After stewing for a few months as the spider web of mental health conditions put strain on my life, I decided It was too hard to sit around and wait, I managed to secure a private assessment which I self-funded against the odds. I was diagnosed with ADHD and referred back to the NHS where I was expecting treatment.
Unfortunately, this did not happen as through various misunderstandings, it wasn't the usual process and a Private Diagnosis is often discarded by the NHS for various reasons. Progress slowed to a halt and in April 2016, over 9 months on from the conversation regarding the waiting list, I began chasing up the appointment with the Adult ADHD clinic. I was told that the date for an assessment would now be June 2017. Obviously hearing this after my efforts, patience and suffering wasn't the best and caused quite a lot of distress. What followed was a 4-month battle with the services and commissioning groups to find out what had happened and how it could be fixed and I even had to bring in my MP on the matter. Luckily for me, I can self-advocate to an extent, be it sporadically. Many people who suffer from such problems cannot.
1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition at some point in their life, 1 in 10 children face a mental health problem right now. The crisis of Mental Health sends and will continue to send shockwaves through society, it effects every aspect of day to day life. If Mental Health which is already a majorly underfunded aspect of the NHS is continued to be cut instead of receiving the funding it so desperately needs to prevent the downfall of society and save lives. It will cause strain on the welfare system, it will cause strain on businesses and it will cause further deaths. We need to talk about Mental Health but we also need the Government to address this very stark and real crisis that is unfolding in front of our eyes. A sticking plaster is not sufficient and it never will be.