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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 October 2018

Fully fund mental health services now

There are many factors that cause mental illness, but the present epidemic has capitalism and austerity at its heart

There are many factors that cause mental illness, but the present epidemic has capitalism and austerity at its heart   (Click to enlarge)

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

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In The Socialist 17 October 2018:


What we think

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News

Universal credit = universal misery

New anti-poll tax type revolt needed today

Homeless driven from Windsor streets for royal wedding: abolish the monarchy and end homelessness now!

Toxic fracking gets the go-ahead while protesters jailed

No to fat-cat top judges' 59k pay hike - fight for decent pay for criminal justice workers

Tory and Trump hypocrisy over murder of Saudi Arabian journalist


Mental health

Fully fund mental health services now


Workplace news

PCS union: nominate Chris Baugh as Left Unity candidate for assistant general secretary

Striking Brum home carers reject 'final' pay cut offer

South Western rail workers launch five-day safety strike to save guards

Uber drivers strike against unfair 'deactivation' and low pay

Bolton hospital workers strike

Grimethorpe dinner ladies stage all-out strike against redundancy

Cable makers' pay strike bites as production falls 33%

Newham finance staff fight pay and grading insult


International socialist news and analysis

Libres y Combativas: striking for women's rights in the Spanish state


Engels

The renewed relevance of Engels' classic Socialism: Utopian and Scientific


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Demo against far-right DFLA

Socialism - the podcast offering Marxist analysis for the movement against capitalism

'Corbyn-council' faces a choice: Implement or fight the cuts

Devon foster carers fight 30% cut in allowances

De Montfort freshers stall


Opinion

Peterloo film exposes bloody nature of capitalism

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

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Austerity:

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triangleFrance Telecom: Privatisation in the dock

Hospitals:

triangleSave the NHS: kick out the Tories

Poverty:

triangleThem & Us

Welfare:

triangleEven social-care bosses say cuts have gone too far

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