Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Mental Health England- A Car Crash

Mental Health in England is a car crash, according to the outgoing president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Prof Sue Bailey said that the mental health services are in crisis, she also accused the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP of lacking the basic understanding of mental health.

Mr Hunt rejected this, saying; he had made it a priority and that he visited the front line of the NHS most weeks and pledged £450 million in funds.

I don’t know whether Mr Hunt lacks the basic understanding of mental health or not. However, you would expect a health secretary to have studied medicine, or at least worked in the medical field. Nothing in Mr Hunt’s impressive resume suggests that he has ever rubbed shoulders with a mental health patient, at least in a professional manner.

Mr Hunt majored in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, perhaps, that explains why he justified his position by referring to the funds pledged.

Funds are essential to tackle the mental health catastrophe facing us as a nation. However, it is a drop in the ocean of the list of requirements to establish a mental health system which can withstand the test of time.

I am sure that Mr Hunt is aware of the fact that the most common forms of mental illness are mixed anxiety and depression; with one in four of us likely to develop some form of the illness in their life time, and with 9% meeting the criteria for diagnosis according to the Office of National Statistics.

In most cases the depression or anxiety was triggered by external factors rather than biological or internal factors. To help these people, in addition to the money and the facilities, they need further help which money could not buy; they need empathy, care and love, these poor people lost their sense of purpose and are in desperate need of a leader figure to remind them of their true value as members of the society; that could have a more lasting effect than tons of medicine and equipment shipped from China, when they have had a rough day of therapy and unemployment, the last thing they want to come back home to is a Minister calling them scroungers.

Arguably love and empathy are usually provided by family, friends or partners. Or is it? Love could be provided through many mediums such as religion, art, music etc.

Fortunately the awareness among charities and social enterprises and non-governmental organizations is at its highest levels, each year the Mental Health Foundation supports a mental health week which aims at raising awareness, the last event was held 12-17 May and focused on anxiety, and the next event is expected to focus on relationships.

What is Beauty the Exhibition is another illustration of how concerned local communities are, endeavouring to spread the love through art, film, poetry and painting. And a forum aiming at establishing “what beauty means to each and every one of us”, perhaps, discover a universal meaning for beauty in the process.

The Exhibition is expected to be held in Hackney on 22 July, and is sponsored by Poached Creative and Mediorite; the exhibition is in support of a petition to properly fund mental health services.

On the other hand; and In Mr Hunt’s defence, the first thing the current coalition government did after removing Labour from power was to publish a new health strategy for England in 2011 aiming at improving the quality of care and reducing the number of patients.

 The strategy seemed fine on paper and was widely welcomed. However, in reality it was faced by many setbacks; the economic recession had its bearing on the strategy; it led to significant extra pressure on parts of the population (fear of debt or losing a house or a job and so forth) which consequently led to a dramatic increase in the number of reported mental health problems; normally about half people with common mental health problems are no longer affected after eighteen month. However poor people, the long term sick and unemployed people, are more likely to be affected; the economic climate provided all the previous ingredients, which in turn provided the recipe for disaster.

  Furthermore, the mental health problem is as old as mankind. It wasn’t until recently that it has been acknowledged and steps taken to address it.

 In all fairness, it is only under New Labour that this country had a half functioning Mental Health Authority, prior to the Second World War, persons with mental illness symptoms were treated through confinement, in the period also known as the asylum era.1959 saw the introduction of the land mark Mental Health Act, followed up by advances in psychiatry and drug treatment, and greater emphasis on human rights accompanied by advances in social science and institutionalisation theory.

Generally most people with mental illnesses received no organised systemic care until the 19th century, care was basic and comprised of basic sedative drugs and bathes in various shapes and forms to calm the patient down. Therefore, it could be argued that the mental health system in this country has not yet truly and fully evolved, which makes the responsibility placed on Mr Hunt and the NHS the greater.

Prof Sue Bailey, a consultant child and adolescent forensic psychiatrist in Manchester, will be replaced by Sir Simon Wessely as president of the royal college.

She said, she will continue to promote mental health services, but in a broader context:

"One way to make societies healthier, including mentally healthier, is to invest in the health and education of women because women play this vital role in the rearing of the next generation,"