Thursday, 13 November 2008

It Really Isn't Fair

I should be on a bit of a high this morning after achieving a minor triumph in front of an audience of doctors, but this will have to wait for another post. Instead I have found myself wanting, perhaps needing would be a better description, to write on an entirely different subject. It is a subject that most of us with mental health problems feel very strongly about and we are not alone because the people that we need to be able to have access to also feel as we do. The subject is the poor level of mental health services in this country. The reason that I find myself writing this post is because I have, this morning, read the latest post from Hannah at Coloured Mind. I urge you to read it for I am sure that you, too, will be moved.

The level of support is not poor because of the calibre of the people who are employed in this area. The problem is that there really are not enough facilities and staff there to support the number of people who require to use them. There truly is a lottery for access to whatever services are available for we are left to fend for ourselves until our number is pulled out of the hat. That is not to say that we don't get support from our GPs, because in most cases the support that we receive is superb, but GPs have neither the time nor, in most cases, the expertise to give us the help that we require.

I am sure that Hannah's story is not unique. When she lived at home she got the help that she needed, but having moved to university in Manchester she has found herself back in the pot waiting for her number to come up again. This sort of thing would not happen if she had cancer, so why should it because her problems relate to her mental health? Perhaps the reason is that mental illness is invisible. You wear no plaster cast, you don't need crutches or a wheelchair to get about, very often you appear completely normal to those around you. But what others cannot see, and if they have never suffered from mental illness themselves cannot understand, is the turmoil that goes on inside you.

If just a small percentage of the money that has so far been spent on Connecting for Health, the infamous computer system that the government is intent on forcing on us, had been spent on mental health services, then the long waiting periods that we have to endure to be seen by a psychiatrist, to be assessed for and offered psychotherapy, or to get any of the other services that we require, could be reduced to the time (from referral to treatment) that is now being heralded as what we can expect as the norm within the rest of the NHS.

There is a huge campaign being waged by the government at the present time to reduce the discrimination that mental health sufferers experience in the work place, and yet it is the very fact that we do not get the treament and support that we require that marks us out as different and leads to much of that discrimination. By ensuring that we have access to the specialists who can diagnose our problems, implement, monitor and adjust drug regimes that enable us to operate at a level that means that we can study or work at a normal level, and recommend the additional treatment and services that will make our lives more bearable, we would probably be able to exist in a manner that would put us on a level playing field with the rest of the population.

Is this too much to ask? I don't think so and I believe that it is about time that we were treated more fairly so that we can enjoy something approaching a normal life.


Lily said...

I totally agree with you 100%. It's just not fair. I hate the fact that if you have mental illness it isn't seen as a "real" problem, so funding isn't pushed that way.

Glad to hear that your presentation was a success though!

Anonymous said...

I dont really know what to say apart from thank you.Love Hannah X