Mental health services just don’t work right for people with mental health problems. I can barely get out of bed in the morning or make myself any food to eat, and yet when I finally get up the energy and courage to go and see my GP, I’m then expected do all the work myself for counselling and Primary Mental Health Service (PMHS) or suffer the feeling that if I don’t I’m clearly not bad enough. I’m not blaming all the wonderful people who work for these services, I’m blaming the way we’ve built them.
You have 2 weeks from the date of a letter to ring the PMHS (something which gives you helpful tips to help yourself, information about groups, books etc) to book a telephone appointment for another day. I kept saying ‘I’ll ring them tomorrow’ because I just couldn’t face picking up the phone. This will sound so ridiculous for people who haven’t experienced it. So I passed the deadline and then started to panic and blame myself for being so shit that I couldn’t even pick up the phone and it spiralled from there. Today I rang them, I managed and they sorted it out even though I’d passed the deadline. But the principle is still wrong.
This is replicated across the services for mental health. As before, when you finally seek help which is hard enough in the first place (took me nearly 3 months and that’s not that bad in comparison) and open up about everything you’re feeling, you then have to repeat that several more times to different people to finally get help. I had to explain everything to my GP, then my employer, then the occupational health GP, soon to the PMHS and then to a private counselling service (because NHS is 24+ weeks waiting list) and then finally to the actual counsellor who is going to help me. How many hoops do people, who can barely get to the starting line, need to jump through to get help?
It was meant to be a great thing when mental health was put on par with physical health in the NHS documents. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely happy this happened but where’s it in practise? We can’t treat both sets of patients the same, it doesn’t work.
Featured photograph: Christian Hopkins