It has been reported recently that mental health patients and sufferers has risen around 20% in the past few years. With more stress about money, jobs and family life these days it was obvious, conditions such as depression and anxiety were going to be on the increase. However, mental health covers a huge array of conditions from depression through to schizophrenia, some more obvious to spot than others but each requires a completely different approach treatment-wise through medication, counselling or hospital treatment.
But though the number of sufferers has risen, wards in hospitals are being shut and bed numbers are being cut with all open wards running at 100% capacity. Leading psychiatrist Dr Martin Baggaley states that the mental health service in the UK is ‘in crisis and unsafe’.
The NHS is clearly stretched in a time of Government cuts but we really do need to make sure that we help those in the most need of help whatever condition they are suffering from. Having first-hand experience of mental health issues I know just how helpful professionals are and can be. In the case of depression having somewhere to go and someone you can turn to really helps what is a lonely and debilitating condition. Having beds available for people who need help or need to put themselves out of harms way because they feel they are or have become a threat to themselves/society is crucial.
It’s not just a case of beds but it is a case of other treatment too. Anti-depressants are handed out way too easily by many doctors these days, not all doctors, but a lot hand them out without doing the necessary checks to determine whether people really need these drugs or not.
Medication also needs to be backed up with a series of counselling sessions and a lot of people are not getting these either. The sessions are an opportunity to sort through issues or change damaging behaviours that are causing these illnesses. There is a huge waiting list on counselling services and many have to wait months in order to see someone. The lucky ones who do manage to see someone only get 8 sessions, that’s 8 hours spread over 2 months to work on such complex issues and conditions. That is not enough time, after 8 hours you are only making a start on what needs to be addressed and when these end you go back to square one again.
Just because mental health problems are something that in most cases cannot be seen does not mean it can be ignored. These are conditions that not only affect people’s lives but affect careers, friendships and families too. These illnesses will spiral if left untreated with many losing jobs and pushing away the people closest to them which add to stress levels and symptoms.
Things need to drastically improve, we can’t just leave people to suffer and have a life dominated by conditions that can very easily be helped if more resources were in place. Treatment, in whatever form, leads to less people needing to seek hospitalisation for more extreme episodes and deteriorating conditions while also teaching people to manage their own conditions, learn to take back control of their lives and have places available to go to if they really need to use them.
We need to take better care of the mental health patients in this country and these recent statistics is surely the wakeup call society, and particularly the Government, needs to put more money and investment towards the NHS and its mental health services.