Mental Health Matters

At the risk of repeating myself, I started this blog to share my experience of depression in the hope that it would help others. I worked for more than 20 years in the NHS for a large mental health Trust and although I haven’t blogged much about it recently mental health is still a subject about which I care deeply. Last week there was a story in The Times which alarmed me about the way mental health is supported, and which I felt I had to share. This post is about the situation in England but I suspect that the issues are common to many other countries around the world.

A little bit of background: when the Tory-led coalition government came to power in 2010 they embarked on a major restructuring of the NHS. There had been no mention of this in their manifesto, but that’s another story. One of the key changes was the creation of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which were intended to put the power in commissioning health services into the hands of health practitioners (largely, General Practitioners, i.e. GPs) as this would, in theory, mean that those who knew best would be commissioning the services needed by their local population. There is an ongoing debate about how effective this has been and a range of other issues too, but I’m not going there. What interests me at present is this:

Copyright Times Newspapers' Click to enlarge

Copyright Times Newspapers. Click to enlarge

Apart from the fact that they are going against Government policy and misusing their funding, I am horrified that so many CCGs fail to see the importance of providing good mental health services. These are supposed to be the experts, those who know best. It beggars belief that they can be so ignorant. The Times commented further on this in their editorial section:

Copyright Times Newspapers. Click to enlarge

Copyright Times Newspapers. Click to enlarge

I’m with them 100%. The figures speak volumes, both in terms of the abuse of power these CCGs are engaged in, and of the pressing need for more investment to be made in mental health services. I started working in mental health in 1993 and even then it was recognised by many to be a Cinderella service, pushed into a corner and under-supported. And children’s mental health services were seen as the poor relations within that! Finally, it seemed, we had a government that was doing more than say nice words about this, but they are being let down by the very people who they thought would be best qualified to enact their wishes.

There have been many studies which have shown how good mental health can be of benefit to physical health, and vice versa. One of the problems in these days of evidence-based treatment is in measuring the effectiveness of mental health care. With a physical illness it is relatively easy to assess, likewise with injuries, such as broken limbs: there is clearly visible evidence available in such cases. But this is not always true of mental illness. To use my own case as an example, the diagnosis I was given nearly five years ago was treated, I returned to work until I retired, and since then I have not felt any recurrence of the original symptoms. So, does that mean I am a successfully treated case? Probably, as I’m no longer costing my local CCG anything for treatment, but who is to say that I am ‘cured’ or whether that is even possible? And does that mean that my local CCG shouldn’t spend the money it has been given to treat people like me on people like me, that it can choose to use it for other treatments? I think not!

People with mental illnesses have for far too long been discriminated against and stigmatised. Whilst this may be recognised by some, far too little can be done, both in terms of treatment and education, as the funding just isn’t available to do all that is needed. I know that the NHS in general is underfunded and that CCGs are under severe pressure to balance their books, as are provider services, but to take money away from the most needy part of the service is totally unacceptable, particularly when that money is supposed to have been ring-fenced for those services. Are the CCGs deciding on their service commissioning on the basis of discrimination and stigmatisation? Who can say, but it could be argued that they are showing signs of doing this. If the supposed experts don’t take mental health seriously, what hope is there that the general population can come to recognise the need to do so?

(Footnote: I am having a week of mental health awareness posts. This is my second, after yesterday’s reblogging of It Asda Be from three years ago. More is to come.)

 

Advertisements

79 thoughts on “Mental Health Matters

  1. I very much appreciate your thoughts on mental health, specifically how psychological health cannot be measured in concrete terms compared to physical health. I think that we often forget how the two are tied together–how the symptoms of one’s mental health disorder may interfere with healthy behaviors. Thank you for sharing!!

    Like

  2. I mean this in the most respectful way, but it is delightful to see someone of your generation caring about mental health.

    Many people do not understand it, and it has only recently become something that (I personally have noticed) is being taken slightly more seriously that it was previously. I was just searching for fellow bloggers who were posting about this, so I could get a better idea on what peoples views were and what people wrote about and its been inspiring to see so many of us are ‘aware’ and do ‘care’ about this.

    Thank you for your post, and I will be following you from now on as I really admire what you said! 🙂 Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lucy, both for your kind comments and for following. I’ll return the compliment. As you’ll see here, I worked in mental health for 20 years and have been a service user. Naturally, it is a cause close to my heart!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this insightful and articulate post. It is so important that we all keep talking about these issues and highlighting where the NHS is letting people down. I am very fortunate to live in an area with relatively good provision, but I also know it’s a post code lottery. A friend just 20 miles away gets no support at all from her local CMHT. That’s just plain wrong to me. Laura

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words. I too was well supported – up to a point! What worries me about the postcode lottery is that the people who should be buying the tickets are using the money to fund other services, for easier ‘wins.’ We need to keep saying this till they get it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. WOW, I really wish that people who needed help for such things could find it. And that government officials understood the importance in education about and treatment of mental illness. I will say that there are several studies going on right now (one at oxford I believe) tieing mental health with digestive system health. You can google “gut brain” to read about the studies, but I agree, it is difficult to quantify mental health improvement or decline. I’m with you education and treatment.

    http://www.essentialoilsgangsta.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • The trouble appears to me to be that it is easy for governments to say the right words, but they really don’t have a clue about how to put them into any form of co-ordinated action. This is a multi-service problem, but the dots aren’t being joined up.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. brilliant! coincidentally, there was a man in our local hometown mall who committed suicide around 10 am today. I think suicide is 100% preventable only if many more people become aware of mental health as an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Sad to hear that news, and you’re right – better education is vital to improving mental health and understanding of the issues around it. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  6. Loving this post this is very important to me mental Health does matter to me because without it one day we could fail we can’t just physically be fine but mentally as well we need to take care of ourself as much as we could thank you for this 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

    Do check out my blog posts I’m new to this blogging world would love to know what you think 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was really interesting to read, and coincidentally I’ve just written a post about the new plans to invest more in youth mental health! I work on a study which is trying to improve mental health for young people in the UK, and its great to read posts that people like yourselves are writing to raise awareness of current issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words. Having both worked for an NHS Trust that provides mental health services and having had my own problems, this is a subject dear to my heart!

      Like

  8. This is so interesting to read Clive, thank you for writing and sharing this. I have also suffered mental health and I hope this stigma attached to it will soon be reduced, it needs me so people can receive more help. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for your post,
    I feel mental illness like depression can be a normal results of not following your hearts desires. What i mean is, quite often in todays modern cultures people are no longer living on their own terms and conditions, they’re living life through a system that they were born into. For example Im from the UK my culture would have me get a 9-5 and then a family then house. Whose to say there is one to live. This is very broadly speaking but can be applied for the little things. I think culture has its place but as an individual we should be thinking for ourselves because we are the only ones who know what is best for us.

    With regards to addressing an illness I feel one area that is over looked is diet and overall physical health. Like you said physical activity really plays its part in the recovery process. Im refering more towards Gut health, Liver and kidney health. these systems are overlooked as we our culture does not promote looking at the body and mind as one but more like the way a mechanic would look at a car. For example If you have a skin issue like spots or a rash your doctor would give you cream.

    The cream is a chemical and we are natural. everything we put in the skin will end up in the body.

    The skin is used by the body to excrete toxins, especially if the liver and kidneys are over taxed.

    We should be looking to promote health in every area of our body not just one as the mind extends through the body via the CNS and blood. The body and mind are one of the same.

    With regards to money and the nhs I have recently spent a week there and that was long enough to see that it is a low priority for our government even though the NHS is meant to be paid for through our taxes? (i may be wrong here).
    Its easy for the people to see what their government really cares about when you see for yourself. And dont listen to the lack of funds story. We are the people of the country / world and we deserve our health ( & freedom 😛 )

    Thanks for your post my friend
    Kindest
    Natural Health

    Like

  10. Completely agree. I recently started blogging for pretty much the same reason. The stigma attached makes it so difficult for people to seek help and often results in them feeling isolated or strange. I feel like a lot of people now are using the term depression willy nilly whenever they feel a bit down, without genuine diagnoses. I find this is also making it harder for legitimate sufferers to come forward because they feel they won’t be taken seriously or will be labeled as attention seekers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree – if we could somehow find a way to de-stigmatise mental health issues it would be much easier for people to get the help and support they need. As long as it is provided in the first place!

      Like

  11. I think the mental health support network sucks, doesn’t matter where you live. There’s either no help at all or very little at all.. this definitely has to change as our hospitals don’t even know what to do with mentally I’ll patients as they aren’t ‘trained’ and that includes doctors to! I also think everyone should make an issue about how this can be changed without being judged or criticised for expressing our opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve clearly not been well supported. I was lucky to have a good GP and the local mental health team were good too. But specialist help was hard to come by, the waiting list was so long! There needs to be a real commitment made to improve mental health services and to provide sufficient funding for this, and for training and all the resources required for this to work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No I haven’t been supported well at all. There should definitely be changes to system in next year or two because the ‘problem’ is getting worse, as now children are getting diagnosed with a mental illness and that’s not right…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry to hear it and hope things improve for you. You’re right about big improvements being needed. Sadly, children have been diagnosed with mental health problems for many years. As well as being a sufferer myself I also started working for a service provider in 1993 and there was a well-established child and adolescent service back then.It was still the poor relation in an under-funded service though, even in those days.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thinks will improve in time.. people need to learn to understand what mental health does to people, rather then just guessing on how your ‘feeling’.. more support, councillors, mental health doctors etc should be trained more and learn more about the illnesses… there’s not even many charities to donate to that covers mental health either which is a right shame.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The will needs to be there amongst the powers that be. You mention charities: have you tried Mind or Rethink? There’s also the Time to Change initiative – there’s help there if you can find it. I hope you can.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. The thing that scares me most is the stigma of coming out and telling people. I also believe that men such as myself have a tougher time (although strictly internal) letting these things out in fear of society deeming us less of a man. I think we need to “man” up and tell people what is really wrong to allow some of this pressure to be released. I also feel that telling our story is a great strength as this shows people that we are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being honest with yourself is the first step towards dealing with your problem, as I’ve also said in a number of other posts, so I agree with you wholeheartedly. There is plenty of research that backs up your point that men find this harder to do, probably for the reasons you suggest. But when we are feeling at out lowest this isn’t easy for us to do, is it? I applaud anyone who has come to terms with it and taken that first step. Once you do, you find those who genuinely care for you and will support you.

      Like

  13. Here in the Coachella Valley, we have had no mental health facilities. Finally, we are getting help for the people who are depressed and anxious. So many people need help…someone to listen…I am so glad they are finally are helping people.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Clive, this is appalling and unfortunately all too common. Over here, Obama tried to address equity of mental health and physical health treatment with the Affordable Care Program, which I’m sure you know is controversial. We keep trying to get to parity, but we will have to see what happens in our election to see what happens next. Good blog, Clive, worth doing! Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jodie. It’s why I started this, and I haven’t really been doing it justice of late. You’re absolutely right: it’s a difficult subject and much easier for most people to ignore as there are no obvious signs.

      Like

  15. It’s so much easier (and simpler) to address physical health, since physical health is more obvious and not so easily ignored. It’s a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. People are perplexed by mental conditions—it takes knowledge and work to address them. So it’s easy to cut them. I guess all we can do is make the mental sphere more obvious. Better education and PR I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is a very important topic to me both professionally and personally. I work in the field have experienced the impacts of this type of scenario, but I have also been digging my own baggage as I move through my weight loss journey. I get so much attention from friends and family about the pounds I’ve lost, but the struggle and work being done beneath the surface is just as vital.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely! Many are afraid of what they can’t see, and it gives mental illness the aura of being something strange and threatening. Thanks for your support and for following. I’ll return the compliment.

        Liked by 1 person

Please leave a reply, I'd like to know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s