It’s 22:44 on October 9th 2017. World Mental Health Day Eve. I’ve spent the last four or five hours thinking about what to write and how to write it and haven’t got anywhere. I thought about not writing anything, but then I felt bad. I feel like I should write something because it’s ‘what I do’, even though I haven’t written anything for ages and feel that anything I do write will be shit. Sorry if it is.
It’s just this: a lot of my thinking right now is influenced by what else I’ve seen in the run up to this year’s World Mental Health Day, that being a lot of noise about Harry, Wills & Catherine’s ‘Head’s Together’ campaign and seeing Jeremy Hunt speaking at the tenth birthday celebration of ‘Time to Change’, the latter provoking me to headbutt my keyboard and silently cry into my sugar-free Red Bull. I suppose I just find it difficult to relate to anything said by someone who spends £17,600 a year on their son’s education or believe promises made by the man who has overseen cuts to NHS mental health services year after year as demand has risen year after year. There’s just a bit of a divide there, y’know?
I might seem really negative but it’s a massive part of depression so I’m not really sorry for that. Don’t @ me.
Awareness is good. Awareness growing is great. I mean, year on year we are getting more aware of mental health. We’re talking. We’re starting ‘conversations’ all over the show. Even men. It’s brilliant. We should all give ourselves a pat on the back. Really, well done.
The problem is that with awareness and rising numbers of people asking for help with their mental health comes the need for services and treatment that is available and affordable – and that is desperately lacking and showing no signs of improving.
In the last month alone I have read countless articles and news stories explaining and exploring the dire state of our mental health services (or lack of) available across the UK and the impact that is having on both staff and service users.
Research from the Centre for Mental Health and the NHS Benchmarking Network found the number of acute inpatient beds for adults with mental health problems in England and Wales fell by 15 per cent in the four years to 2016. The number of inpatient staff reduced by 20 per cent in the same period. There is no excuse for this, especially at a time when those at the top continue to bang on about mental health being their priority; at a time when people who have been declared ‘fit for work’ are dying as a result of having their benefits cut; at a time when the number of young people arriving in A&E with psychiatric problems has doubled since 2009 whilst mental health services have faced £538million of annual cuts.
I’m bored of listening to people who don’t understand what it’s really like for the majority of those who have mental health problems pretending that they care. I’m tired of those who do care and do have a platform sitting on the fence and being apolitical when this IS a political issue. It’s bullshit and we need to call them out on it. It’s time not just to talk about smashing stigma, sharing stories and inviting our neighbours around for a cuppa. It’s time we demand change.
Actions speak louder than words. Do your research – what services are available where you live? How long are waiting times? What is under threat? Which services are being cut? Find out and demand better for yourselves and for those around you. You can find out who your local MP is and contact them here.
Back soon, off to try and snap out of this negative thinking.