It’s World Mental Health Day and I’m Tired

It’s #WorldMentalHealthDay and I am all for talking and listening and helping each other and sharing our stories and encouraging people who need it to ask for help. But it’s not enough. It’s good, but it’s not enough. I have been campaigning for ‘better mental health awareness’ for over ten years and the situation has only worsened.

We are in the midst of a mental health crisis and no matter how many millions of pounds are ploughed into glossy awareness campaigns, no matter how many Royals and celebrities look down a lens and tell us that things can change, no matter what colours we wear or filters we add to our social media accounts, without huge amounts of actual ring-fenced funding to support mental health services, this downward spiral will continue.

There is one thing that pretty much every mental health awareness campaign ignores, and that is that this is political. So as someone who lives with mental illness, who has needed specialised, inpatient care and who has in the past had to literally beg for the treatment I needed, I’m getting to a point where I can’t go along like a good little campaigner and support these campaigns and not acknowledge or address the hypocrisy behind them. At first, I was frustrated, then I was angry and now I’m just tired.

I’m sorry for being cynical but (in no particular order):

  • I’m tired of awareness campaigns that aren’t supported by action and funding.
  • I’m tired of our government not putting money where their mouths are.
  • I’m tired of encouraging conversations to ‘see your GP’ for the GP to tell you that you’re not ill enough for treatment.
  • I’m tired of GP’s not having a choice in turning people away because there’s nowhere to refer them. People who need and deserve help.
  • I’m tired that GP’s and nurses are under so much strain that they are increasingly suffering with their own mental health.
  • I’m tired of wilful ignorance.
  • I’m tired of people in crisis being told to go for a walk or have a bath.
  • I’m tired of hearing about waiting lists that are so long that people deteriorate and die while they are waiting for help.
  • I’m tired of hearing about mental health units being forced to close due to underfunding.
  • I’m tired of hearing about mental health units that are understaffed and under pressure and are so strained that patients who are there to be cared for are dying.
  • I’m tired of ITV launching a mental wellness campaign while employing Piers Morgan.
  • I’m tired of all the focus on wellbeing and barely any on mental illness.
  • I’m tired of being told ‘therapy is ok’ by people who pay for it privately while others have to wait months or even years.
  • I’m tired of Tories saying that ‘Every Mind Matters’ when their welfare reforms have led to an alarming increase in child poverty, foodbank use is at a record high and homeless deaths also higher than ever since records began.
  • I’m tired of Conservatives telling us they care about everyone’s mental health after years of severe cuts to schools, local authorities, youth clubs, CAMHS, nurses and hospital beds.
  • I’m tired of tokenism.

I’m tired of being this cynical – but I don’t know what else there is to do.

Talking is great, but it’s just not enough. We have to push for change. Call people out. Push people who make promises to actually do something. Never be complacent. Scratch beneath the surface of all these polished awareness campaigns, because people deserve better.

4 thoughts on “It’s World Mental Health Day and I’m Tired

  1. I hear you.
    I found myself feeling very angry all of yesterday, even tackling various high profile accounts (like the archbishop of Canterbury’s sententious little post about seeking help). He never bothered to reply and I had some naive person telling me that every surgery has a CPN you can talk to…

  2. It’s terrible. And I have to be honest: mental health isn’t even the worst area of underfunding. I’m a music therapist & work with children & a few adults with disabilities. The cuts (for adults too, but most of all) for children, schools & services working with children with the most severe impairments is alarming. Thank don’t have much work in schools any more – in the schools where I mainly worked with children who can’t speak, offering one of few forms of communication they had. I know why it is: those with severe disabilities certainly have no political voice so no political party needs their vote, and mainly they have no actual voice either, so unless you know such people yourself, their loss goes totally unheard. I imagine it’s the same in mental health: many must get to such a position they no longer are able to fight to even be heard anymore. So thank you for being people’s voice. Personally I’m in a place where I no longer believe it is possible for things to improve for the most vulnerable which terrifies me for their sake & makes me so sad. And myself: I no longer have enough work to live on & feel it is only likely to get less. I need a new career but have never done anything else. I also think the whole country can’t help but be in a fragile place, not only due to the current terrifying climate… but my entire working life the country has been in recession, there has seemed no hope. Will there ever seem to be hope again? It’s no wonder such a climate – for what? Over a decade now? Is going to impact on everyone, no?

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