Photo credit: Stockshare
I feel as though this blog may become a rant. I'm not sure if I'll even publish it... but I feel like I need to get this out before I end up exploding. Granted, I probably won't really explode, but that's the way it feels at the moment.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in every 6 people over the age of 16 in the UK has a 'common' mental health problem. The stats show an increase especially in women suffering from mental health conditions since 2000. However, almost half (43%) of adults identify as having had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their lives. The figures clearly show the prevalence of these conditions and yet the resources to support them seem to not compare to these stats. Then when you look into the specifics of the illnesses that I am most familiar with; around 46 % of those with anorexia recover, 33% improve (assumably existing in the weird limbo that is recovery) and 20% remain chronically ill; the story is similar with bulimia and other eating disorders. The statistics don't make for encouraging reading. Whilst I am hopeful and confident that all those I know who have these illnesses will make a speedy recovery; it feels even more possible that people I really care for might not get better.
I want to be positive, I want to campaign for early intervention and really believe that everything is going to change and all the right services and organisations will get the money they need to support everyone. I'm feeling scared that this just isn't going to be the case. On the news, mental health is in crisis. There are no beds, long waiting lists and the treatment just isn't getting to people in a timely and apparently appropriate manner. Around me, friends are being sent to hospitals far from their homes, being discharged from services that they qualify for but cannot see because the services are ceasing to exist in the same way and people are getting poorlier without the right help. In most cases, it seems like the answer is to simply help people earlier, when they're able to work with professionals. But it seems like care is not offered until patients are past the point of being able to engage with it, so they are discharged for being too unwell. We're living in a world where people aren't ill enough to access support, which by the time they can access, they are then deemed too unwell and discharged anyway. It feels like utter madness... and we're supposed to be the crazy ones.
Is there a solution? Well, I think the only solution would be a radical overhaul of existing mental health support systems. Easy! If only it could be sorted just like that. I really don't know where the changes need to start, but I know more than anything that they are desperately needed. Deaths from mental illness may be prevented if sufferers have appropriate support at an earlier point. It makes sense, because surely less money would be spent if we stopped waiting until people were really poorly to support them.
Tonight, I feel scared and a little helpless. I want to find a way to make things better and I want to wrap my friends in cotton wool and keep them snug and safe. I just hope small, gradual changes can start to filter through and improve services that desperately need a new way of working.