It seems that mental health has finally hit the headlines. And I’m not talking about awareness days, I’m talking about stories about the harsh realities of mental health.
A quick bit of googling on my part shows that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has been in the spotlight. It took a senior judge stepping in for a teenage girl with a personality disorder to receive the life-saving treatment she clearly needed. Obviously this is not the norm. Judges don’t step in in every case. What is the norm is that we’re failing children and young people in general. These news stories are English, but I fear that similar stories could be told of CAMHS care in Scotland. Personally I know of at least one story of a teenager being told that services simply ‘did not know how to help her’. So she was discharged. Thankfully that has recently been rectified, but imagine being told that you essentially can’t be helped? And at such a young age?
In fact, imagine being told this at any age? Because what hasn’t been in the news is that adult mental health care in the UK is woefully lacking. Too many people are told they’re ‘not ill enough’ and turned away from secondary services while GPs and A&Es struggle to firefight.
It took me roughly three years of referrals and re-referrals from my GP, and discharges and re-discharges from the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), before I landed in hospital and they finally started taking me seriously. And I am by no means an isolated case. Even now, when services have been put in place for me, I am regularly ‘fobbed off’ with five minute conversations when I’m in crisis. I can’t help wondering how much worse it is for those who have not made it this far up the CMHT ladder…how hard it is for them not to give up entirely.
Because this is the reality of the situation. People with life threatening illnesses are being treated like simple pests. And it’s just not good enough. The government preaches about mental health care being equal to that of physical health, and then underfunds it to a degree that seriously ill people are being turned away, something is most definitely very, very wrong. How to fix it? More funding, clearly. Will that happen? Sadly, I am very, very doubtful.