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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Mental Health and the NHS


Like most British citizens, I support our National Health Service. But it is no surprise to anyone that it is not without fault, such as when it comes to matters of mental illness. Lots of people across the country with mental health problems (myself included) are put on long waiting lists for illnesses such as depression, anxiety, OCD or personality disorders, due to a high demand and not enough funding.


A lot of us - particularly Labour supporters - are aware of the notorious budget cuts the Tories have been making to public services since they came into power in 2010. The Conservative government traditionally do not have the working/lower middle classes best interests at heart, hence why with them often come a lot of tax cuts for those in the upper earning bracket. Most of the UK population - and the world population - are not supremely well-off, and when it comes to mental health services, there are many in need of treatment who simply cannot afford to pay for private therapy.

Why should someone who is already undergoing severe anxiety and is possibly suicidal have to add to their stress by paying for treatment? If they can afford to then great, but most private psychotherapists charge lots of money that many members of the public can't afford. The NHS is a public service designed to serve the public. Mental illnesses are just as prevalent as physical ones; over the last two decades rates in mental health problems have been skyrocketing, particularly for those of my generation.

At the beginning of February I took an overdose of my antidepressants - I would describe it as a desire for temporary escapism not a suicide attempt, and am not going to go into details about it - and I was taken to hospital with my mother and given information about therapy services. Since then I have switched my medication as well as regularly going to AA as usual and incorporating more daily meditation into my life. However, I know long-term although I may feel ok now, if I don't get some sort of long-term treatment these patterns of self-destructive behaviour may crop up.

I'm using myself as an example because I know lots of people like myself engage in self-destructive behaviours due to their mental and emotional state. It's something that is very difficult to explain because it isn't rational; someone could be wealthy and have a loving family and a stable career yet be suffering from a mental illness and be told by those around them to 'just get over it.' Over the past year I've realised how severe my anxiety can actually be; I've known I had depression for years but I never addressed how bad my anxiety and corresponding panic attacks can be - and it is very difficult constantly living with that state of mind. Anxiety is something that makes it hard to get out of bed, to go to school or work, to see friends, to go on dates, and to pretty much function as a normal person because of the amount of constant mental fear you have. I've spent lots of my life pushing and 'making' myself do things - even if it's simply meeting a group of friends - because I don't want to make myself 'miss out' on life because I'm too afraid to live it.


So yes, it is very sad that due to the fact that the Conservative government don't recognise the important of public services, people are stuck waiting for enormous amounts of time when it comes to NHS appointments. This includes waiting in A&E, waiting months for therapy, and struggling to get doctor's appointments. There is a shortage of doctors and clinical psychologists on the NHS as well. If I were a doctor I would want to work via the NHS as opposed to being a private practitioner in order to support a service that is there to help everyone else. As British citizens we should feel very privileged to live in a country that has a national health service; in some countries there are people that would rather die than make their families have to pay the insurance. People may complain about paying taxes, but if taxes are going on the public's health, I don't think that's something that should be compromised.

Links:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/mental-health-nhs-funding-cut-millions-five-england-regions-1-billion-spent-2021-scarborough-walsall-a7700476.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/conservative-manifesto-tory-mental-health-funding-rectify-injustice-problems-no-extra-money-a7742801.html

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/theresa-may-mental-health-pledges-cuts

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41125009

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