The future of our country now depends on us addressing the shortfalls in mental health services
By Lucette Davies
As we attempt to rebuild our lives post-pandemic we must look carefully at mental health. So many of us are emerging from the various lockdown restrictions with our mental health somewhat battered and bruised. And mental health services are suffering from extreme neglect.
Sweeping changes to the structure of our NHS have been brought in since 2010. But this has not resulted in better patient care. The only thing that has improved has been greater profit making capacity for the private sector.
Sadly, now I am hearing many more people complain about their care in the NHS and discuss private health insurance as an alternative. But, I believe this may be the clue as to why our Government has allowed the mental health services to be neglected so drastically.
Psychiatric patients are often detained against their will in hospitals. You can’t get people to pay for something they don’t want. Many other people with mental health problems are living on the poverty line. The likelihood of somebody paying for their care is low. Private health insurance is also reluctant to fund psychiatric care. A broken bone will normally take six weeks to heal but it is much harder to predict how long a person will take to recover from depression.
When you have a Government whose main aim for the NHS is to increase the ability for private corporations to make profit from the service they will have little interest in psychiatry.
But our future rests on the young people of today. And Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are being neglected far more than adult services. Teachers are reporting that mental distress in schools is epidemic. Out of a class of 30 children at least five will be diagnosed with a mental health problem. In February this year the Guardian reported that 7% of UK children have attempted suicide by age 17.
To continue to allow mental health and particularly that of young people to be ignored is tantamount to giving up on this country’s future. It is also a demonstration of utter callousness and in contravention to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mental health carries a legacy of social, physical, psychological and financial problems. If we ignore the provision of adequate mental health support for young people that is the legacy our entire country will have to carry.
It is certainly not ideal for a young person to be provided with inpatient care. But at times it is necessary and then it is even less ideal if they are sent hundreds of miles from their homes to be treated. And that is a scenario which we hear about all too often. Which is why we have set up a petition calling for the provision of a new CAMHS unit for Eastbourne. Please add your signature as an investment in this country’s future.
The East Sussex Save the NHS will soon be launching a short campaign on mental health. Please keep an eye on our website and social media to find out more.
East Sussex Save the NHS Campaign (https://esussexsavethenhs.org.uk)