Another week, another scary story in the newspaper about mental health. The statistics which lead to this headline are very worrying indeed. The high percentage of young women who suffer from a mental illness, and in particular the number of them who turn to self-harm, should be seen by all as a sign that we are failing our young people. As I mentioned last week in my post Mental Health Matters this issue does not appear to be being given the priority it deserves by the Clinical Commissioning Groups, who use the funding they are given to buy the services needed by the populations they serve. As always, they are treating mental health as being of lesser importance than physical health. Spending on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is even worse: for some reason, CAMHS services are seen as some kind of poor relation within the context of mental health services. Surely, it isn’t rocket science to understand that if our children grow up with good mental health and are well supported in this, they will take that with them through their lives, is it? This survey was carried out on behalf of the NHS by the well respected National Council for Social Research, and it is to be hoped that everyone involved will take notice and take action as a result of these findings.
Apart from the headline and the story, what interests me about this piece in The Times is the focus they have taken to create their story: the full report runs to 405 pages, not including the data tables, so presumably there is much else in there which needs to be addressed? Tucked away towards the end of the article is mention of the fact that whilst men are much less likely to suffer from a mental illness or to have suicidal ideation, they are much more successful at taking this to its tragic conclusion. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of the situation in relation to young women – far from it! – but the fact that even in a brief report such as this The Times can draw some attention to the male suicide issue says to me that there is a huge amount that needs to be done in this country and, I suspect, elsewhere. I have downloaded the full report, which is freely available here to anyone who is interested.
I make no apology for writing this brief post which is, in effect, a continuation of where I left off last week. The more information that becomes available, the more widely it is shared, the greater the awareness of one of the major issues affecting society today. In these days of Brexit, immigration, racism, choosing the least bad of two undesirable Presidential candidates, international terrorism and many other important issues, it is easy for mental health to be lost in the tide of news. I, for one, don’t accept that this should be, and will add my own small voice to those who are trying to do something about this. We can only achieve acceptance of mental health as a major issue if we can widen the debate about it – this is the only way I can do this, but I know that I’m one among many who feels this way. Lots of you tell me that in response to my posts and the fact that I have had more new followers for this small blog in the past week, when I posted three times on mental health, than at any time since I began speaks volumes to me.