By Lucette Davies

We have a new Prime Minster to run the same broken system. A system that is destroying people both physically and mentally. Some are rejoicing that Liz Truss may be proposing a cap on energy prices. But if it happens, although she may win support from a few our system will stay broken.

Energy cap or not, so many people cannot make ends meet. People are trapped in low wage, insecure employment. Housing is often inadequate but with sky high prices. Our public services are stretched to the limit and standards have fallen by the relentless outsourcing and privatisation we have seen in recent years. Not least of all in our NHS.

Is it any wonder that mental health problems have escalated? In the coming year 25,000 people in Eastbourne will receive a mental health diagnosis. And currently one in six of our school children will have a diagnosable mental health condition. So there is an urgent need for us to examine the state of our local NHS mental health services.

Nationally we can see that since the 1980s the prevalence of mental health problems has been increasing in the UK. At the same time the chance of recovery, has been decreasing.

Something is obviously going wrong. And it has been going wrong since long before the recent hike in inflation. Thankfully there now seems to be a number of books published which examine in detail this crisis in mental health treatment. Most notably, Cracked and Sedated by James Davies which highlight the problems caused by psychiatry labelling ordinary human distress as illness. Davies presents well-evidenced arguments to show that psychiatric medications do not offer effective ‘cures’ from illness. But their mind-altering nature can provide temporary relief from symptoms, albeit relief that come along with unpleasant side effects and a risk of addiction. He also criticises the whole approach to psychiatry as being unscientific and with significant corruption aimed at boosting the profits of big pharmaceutical corporations.

In 2017, a review into mental health services published an organisational strategy for our local mental health trust, Sussex Partnership. Intended to improve outcomes for patients. I have looked at this strategy and it fails to address any of Davies’s concerns. They give a stated aim of making IAPT (talking therapies) available to 53,811 people by 2023/24. This is a tiny percentage of the 3m people Sussex Partnership serves, 25% of whom will receive a mental health diagnosis each year.

Another aim is for the Trust to have capacity for 11,282 patients to be treated in the community. Again a tiny percentage of the numbers who may need this. It also includes an aim to reduce the length of stay for inpatient admissions. But one of the biggest problems patients have faced in recent years is being discharged before they are ready to go home.

The biggest problem I could see was that this organisational strategy for Sussex Partnership was reached by a committee led by the CEO of Sussex Partnership, Sam Allen. The strategy was only ever going to reinforce the already broken system that is failing so many across the South-East.

We need transparency and we urgently need an independent review of how mental health services should be delivered.