One in four.
Those are the stats for adults of developing one or more mental health problems, every year.
It is quite shocking to think that it is still that high in the 21st century, as well as many wanting to hide their illnesses. But when you take a look at the state of the world around us, and then see what services there are available, it is no wonder that so many are suffering in silence.
Throughout 16-22nd February is Mental Health Awareness Week, and I will be getting involved in any way I can, especially through this blog. It is a subject that I am so passionate about and one very close to heart. Mental health may be spoken of more, but there is still not enough done to help those in desperate need of care.
The BBC has come up with a season of awareness called ‘In the Mind’ featuring several documentaries, covering a variety of mental illnesses, their sufferers, the care provided, and the understanding of what it is like to live within a society that knows so little about how to look out for the signs.
You may be surprised to know that even children as young as 7 years old can become deeply affected by mental health problems. They hold no boundaries, as anyone at all can develop issues. Mothers, the elderly, the rich, the poor, the well-known, the military forces, marginalised groups such as homosexuals and ethnic groups can all become ill.
I have read some of the “The Five Year Forward Plan for Mental Health” report that was published today regarding the current state of the NHS mental health services and what they propose the change for the better. In a nutshell, there has been a lack of funding for a number of years, with numerous services begin cut, leaving the people who are in need of support, to go at it alone. Consequently, they spiral down and can no longer be saved from the depths with outpatient care. Shockingly of all there has been an increase in the number of suicides in the past year, with every four in five being male. What saddened me, even more, is that those who took their own lives, some had been in contact with their GP in their last week.
Even if patients go into hospital for treatment, there is no guarantee that they will be in a “safe, therapeutic or conducive to recovery” [Report] environment. I have personal experience of this, as my first hospital admission actually made me worse. It was a mixed mental health ward, where you had eating disorders mixed with psychosis with personality disorders, with self-harm and so on. So you start to imagine what my sixteen-year-old mind was going through. I had never been around anyone with such complex illnesses before, it put so much fear inside, that I felt even more isolated than before. I felt I was being punished for being unwell in the head because you wouldn’t put people who are having a heart operation, those who have broken bones and pregnant women, all on the same ward, would you?
According to this report, by 2020/21 we are set to have many positive changes to the way that mental health is cared for in the NHS. One massive service benefit will be to have 24/7 support available for sufferers, which will act like the A&E for the mind. It is crucial that this sort of service is there as it is very common for sufferers to deteriorate in the evening. Again, my experience of trying to get out of daylight hours support was horrific. I was not given the right help, in fact, I felt quite patronised for feeling the way I did – making the dark thoughts stronger and the anxiety higher. A&E is not cut out for mental illnesses, as it is the main focus is the physicality of the body.
Also, another key change will be an early invention for young sufferers, and at key moments in life, as most mental health issues come from childhood and adolescent experiences. If I’d have received help sooner, or even known more about my condition, who knows what that could have prevented. I am not saying that it would stop people from falling ill, but at least to save them from going too far, as I unfortunately did. The further you fall, the harder it is to break out of the vicious cycle.
I am aiming to build a community for those wishing to find a stronger sense of themselves, respecting and loving themselves for who they are no matter what, and that is something that the proposal is hoping to do too. It is really important that we talk about our experiences, sharing our coping techniques to get through any hardships. So this is set to bring together like-minded individuals, seeking to know that they really aren’t in this alone.
All in all the plans are really promising for the future care for mental health, however, it is the action needed now that is paramount. I strongly believe we need to at now, not for four years time. There are thousands going undetected, barely making it through the day, so how can anyone expect them to wait any longer?
Changes are happening, sure, but we need to have equality between the physical and the mental health problems that affect us all. The organ that controls every aspect of your being is the brain, it should not ever be neglected the way it is today.