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From: The Socialist issue 1014, 17 October 2018: ToriesĀ’ Brexit bust-up - general Election Now

Search site for keywords: Mental health - Health - Austerity - Cuts - NHS - Depression - Hospitals - Poverty - Welfare

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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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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