As many people may already be aware, there is currently a mental health crisis going on within the UK. The government and MP’s are aware of this crisis, yet not that much is being done about it.
At this current moment in time, one in four people will face mental health problems, which is clearly epidemic proportions. Although the fight against stigma is going strong, and the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly being eradicated, we still have a very long way to go before we accomplish the goal of erasing stigma and having mental health services be accessible to those who need them, when they need them. Physical conditions are still being taken more seriously despite the high mortality rates of many mental illnesses.
The number of hospital beds available for mental health patients have fallen, this has left a large number of some of the most vulnerable people to not only be left uncared for, but also left to the possibility of being held in a police cell, which is no place for a person who is struggling with a mental illness. I have actually witnessed this happen to my best friend on what I believe to be more than one occasion, during both of these occasions he was either suicidal or had attempted suicide, yet he was held in a police cell as there was nowhere else for him to go. The police officer who was present at the time even stated that a police cell was no place for a person in my best friends situation to be. This is no way to treat people who are suffering from a mental illness.
The waiting lists in which mental health patients are placed on in order to receive treatment are that ridiculously long that many people feel hopeless about ever receiving treatment, preventing many from bothering to attempt to access treatment in the first place. The time it takes to receive treatment could mean life or death for this individual, let’s face it, it’s that serious. Other patients have felt the need to go to A&E to ensure that they do receive treatment. In fact, it has reached the point where statistically two people who are struggling with mental health issues will turn up every hour; yet not all A&E units will have staff that are trained in mental health. We as a country are playing Russian roulette with people’s health here, including the most vulnerable. The waiting lists that are placed in order to access mental health services can have a duration of up to six months long, which is an extremely long time. This also allows the illness to cause the individual to deteriorate further, yet the NHS state that we all have a better prognosis the earlier we get help, so why aren’t they aiming to achieve that?
Mental wellbeing is not being addressed enough in schools or the entirety of the educational system, if at all. Introducing education on mental health, as well as access to mental health services within the educational system could make a huge difference in the lives of young people. Not only is there an issue with mental health services within education for young people, but also in general. In 2015 61% of those who were referred to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service) didn’t receive any treatment. Over a quarter of the children in England received no help from the mental health services they were referred to last year, including some who had attempted suicide. Only 0.7% of NHS funding is spent on CAMHS plus there are wide variations of access to care across the UK.
As a country we cannot carry on like this, we need to tackle this crisis head on before it becomes any more severe. The lives of the most vulnerable are being put at risk, and we need a reform urgently. We need to come together as people to fight this, we cannot continue to let others suffer at the hands of the government and the lack of care that is consequently inaccessible.