Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/996/27403
Ads won't fix it: fight mental health cuts as well as stigma
Mary Finch, East London Socialist Party
Capitalist society has caused a mental health crisis of gargantuan proportions. One in four people in Britain will experience a mental health problem in their life, but only one in eight sufferers are receiving treatment, according to Mind.
It's especially bad for young people who are bearing the brunt of austerity and the economic crisis. The pressure is mounting to get an education, find a good job, move away from home, while the opportunities to actually do so are being destroyed.
Young people have been left without a future. We're struggling to deal with the pressure of low pay, insecure work and housing, and a gutted education system which prioritises performance in exams over actual learning.
It's no surprise, then, that anxiety and depression are on the rise. And less common - and often more serious - conditions are exacerbated more and more by the stress of living through capitalist crisis.
The Tory answer? Spend potentially millions of pounds of public money on advertising to tell people how to manage their mental illness. The 2018 Government Communication Plan includes a campaign on "the skills to prevent everyday problems escalating into more serious issues."
People with mental health problems don't struggle with "everyday problems" in the way healthy people do. I have suffered from depression for seven years, and sometimes, just getting out of bed can take as much effort as running a marathon.
And the problems some mentally ill people deal with aren't "everyday" at all. A schizophrenic experiencing a break with reality can't get by with help from a condescending ad campaign.
The money the Tories want to spend on ads is a sop. That money and much more besides needs to be invested into public services that can actually help sufferers of mental illness.
We desperately need comprehensive therapy services which offer more common treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy, but also specialist services for those with conditions which are rare or more difficult to treat.
We need outreach services for those who are suffering or suspect they're suffering from mental illness so they feel able to reach out for help. We need to ensure that when they do, adequate services are there to support them.
People are increasingly talking more openly about mental health and encouraging others to do so. These positive discussions about fighting stigma have to be linked to fighting cuts.
After all, the Liberal Democrats, Blairites and Tories are happy to throw around buzzwords about reducing stigma - while failing to mention they're starving the NHS of funds!
We can't wait for a Corbyn-led anti-austerity government. Councils must use their reserves and borrowing powers to stop cuts now, restore all local public services, and fight to get the money back from central government.
In The Socialist 23 May 2018:
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