Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1014/28104
Fully fund mental health services now
Mary Finch, East London Socialist Party
Stigma around mental health is decreasing, and that's definitely a good thing. But it's not nearly enough when services are being cut to the bone and most of us have been left without crucial lifelines.
It's not an exaggeration - people are dying because of the mental health crisis. It's led to such a drastic rise in suicides that the Tories were forced to appoint a new minister on World Mental Health Day to deal with the emergency.
Suicide prevention minister Jackie Doyle-Price has backed cuts which have decimated local services, including mental health support. Doyle-Price has also consistently voted to attack welfare - 91 times according to website They Work For You.
The link between benefit cuts and mental health problems has been well documented.
The Tories hope they can distract people from their role in exacerbating - even causing - this crisis.
Cuts and privatisation in the NHS have smashed counselling and support services. It's standard for people to wait months or even years to access crucial therapy.
Plenty are bounced around different services, each with very specific requirements designed to limit the number who try to access them.
Ending the mental health crisis isn't just about services. It's crucial to fight stigma.
Encouraging people to talk about their experiences is just one part. We need resources to educate people about the symptoms of mental illness, so they can recognise it in themselves and seek support.
Take obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for example. How is someone supposed to recognise actual OCD symptoms - terrible intrusive thoughts and anxiety - when they're consistently told it's just about being clean and tidy?
We can't rely on charities to spread awareness and understanding of mental illness. It has to be a public service.
For that to happen, austerity must end.
A day in the life of a mental health support worker Juggling admin and emotion in the era of austerity
Sam Gleaden, mental health support worker
I wake up at 7am. No time to eat. No need to rush for the commute. I'm already at work.
I didn't sleep more than three hours because of residents waking up in the night and a no expense spared sofa bed from nineteen eighty something. It's me and 12 mental health care home residents to look after for the next six hours.
I work two 24-hour shifts a week on top of normal hours. I've already been at work since 1pm the previous day and since 5pm on my own.
I have to juggle medication, paperwork, health and safety inspections, financial admin, and more paperwork. Meanwhile, I somehow have to find time to engage with the complex lives of the residents. There's not much time to be emotionally supportive when you're running a care home on your own.
Often when I'm nearing the end of the shift, someone will come to me in a desperate emotional state. I'm usually so tired by this point I barely have the energy.
My main client has serious anger management issues relating to his psychosis. In 12 months here I haven't had any training on de-escalation or challenging behaviour.
Over half my pay goes on rent. I get a paltry £30 to 'sleepover' - there is no hourly rate for that time.
The residents here will see a mental health clinician once every four to six months. This is nothing more than lip service.
The cuts are the real burning injustice
The prime minister has pledged to tackle the "burning injustice of mental health". But the burning injustice is the inadequacy of provision from cutting resources.
Poverty and poor access to services are major triggers for some mental illnesses.
New research also indicates that women who are subject to sexual assault, domestic violence and harassment are more likely to suffer anxiety and depression.
Our society, our government in particular, is failing people. The answer is to throw out this Tory government and its neoliberal capitalist ideology and fight for a socialist society that puts people's mental and physical health at the centre.
Ian Hunter, Derby Socialist Party
Mental health facts
- Serious mental health illnesses reduce life expectancy by ten to 20 years - Oxford University psychiatrists
- The number of NHS beds for mental health patients has been cut by 30%
- Mental health hospitals were cut by £150m in the four years up to 2017. They were cut by £600m under the Con-Dem coalition - Health Foundation
- Even Tory health secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that mental health services are under resourced
- Children's mental health services will not meet demand - National Audit Office
- A fifth of mental health services provide substandard care - Care Quality Commission
- 40% of patients referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in 2016-2017 were never assessed - Spurgeons charity
- £4.5m was cut from mental health in 2017 while mental health services need an extra £1bn - NHS England
- Worldwide 13.5 million lives could be saved every year if mental illness was addressed properly - Lancet Commission
- Mental health trusts were £105m down in real terms over the last five years - Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Around 8,000 adults a year are sent out of their home area for mental health care in England, despite a government pledge to end the practice altogether - Centre for Mental Health
- NHS hasn't properly reviewed mental health among children for 14 years
In The Socialist 17 October 2018:
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