Jeremy Hunt, You Need to Sort Out the Mental Health Service - Now!

01/08/2016 16:41 | Updated 01 August 2016

What I am going to write in this post isn't going to shock people. There is no big revelation hidden within it. But I have come to the conclusion that if Jeremy Hunt isn't constantly nagged about the state of the Mental Health Service in England, nothing is actually going to be done about it.

This isn't a problem exclusive to 2016. I have had personal experience of its shambolic state for seven years.

Undoubtedly mental health problems are complex to treat. If you break your leg, you go to A & E, you have an X-ray, you might get your leg put in a cast, you will have follow up appointments and probably physio for a maximum of a year afterwards.

Now let's say you are depressed. You go to your GP, you might get prescribed anti-depressants, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (counselling), you might feel better, you might not.

A common misconception about anti-depressants is that you take them and they immediately work and everything is fine. There is more than just one anti-depressant out there. Some people have to try all of them to find the one that actually helps them.

Counselling, alongside medication, helped me when I needed it for anxiety. But again, there is no magic formula and you aren't necessarily going to have the right sort of bond with the first counsellor you see. (Just for the record on both the occasions I have had counselling I have paid for it myself).
Then when you find the right counsellor, sometimes you can have a few sessions and have a breakthrough, and sometimes it can take years of talking therapy.

I hope you understand what I am saying. With mental health problems often you are not ever properly healed. The same problems can recur over and over again. Exhausting, heart-breaking and like I said incredibly hard to cope with for the NHS.

Financially something needs to be sorted. Over the last few years the amount of money being set aside for mental health care has been going gradually down - which is frankly laughable. It is a service in absolute chaos.

I was prompted to write this post because of a relative of mine. He is in his early seventies, living alone, recovering from a stroke, and suffering awfully with anxiety. Even getting a parcel (and this is not even him answering the door) sends him into a total, frantic panic.
He is also terribly depressed and admits he gets no pleasure from the small things in life he used to enjoy.

One day I was at his bungalow when he was having a really bad week, the previous day one of his brilliant carers had fought tooth and nail to get his doctor or a paramedic to come out to him. The carer and I continued trying this the next day and eventually we had a phone call from someone in the mental health team saying they would be out to see him that evening (hours later).

When the man, presumably a doctor (he didn't say) arrived, he was reassuring. Sensibly he suggested an increase in medication. Because of the vulnerability of my relative, he also said he would send someone out again in the next few days to talk to him about how he was feeling.
This all happened on a Wednesday evening. A week and half a later there had been no increase in medication and no visit.

I then witnessed my mum having to phone four or more different numbers trying to find out why nothing had been done. The majority of people she spoke to made her feel like an inconvenience.

This reminded me of a time seven years ago when I was sent a letter from a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) team, basically saying I told them I didn't want counselling - when in fact the total opposite was the case. I had waited weeks to be assessed and weeks to get that letter. When I read it, it sent me crashing over the edge.

It is a feeling I hope Mr Hunt, or anyone close to him, never experiences. But I do hope he realises that measures need to be put in place to sort out the mental health care shambles in England. Otherwise it is going to be too late for too many people!