Mental health has been a topic very close to my heart for a very long time, with mental health affecting myself and many people around me. Over my time working in student radio I had the opportunity to produce a radio show for Mental Health Awareness Week. Something I’ve found especially in the student environment is that social attitudes towards Mental Health are very positive and the work of charitable organisations and volunteers is phenomenal in helping people in need. But these Charities should just be a small helping hand in a developed country like ours, we should expect a strong national service dedicated to mental health. However, something I also found during my research is how the standards of treatment for people with Mental illnesses has not been improving and in some cases is failing horribly.
During her inaugural speech in front of Number 10 Theresa May highlighted ‘If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.’ And I completely agree Mrs May we see ourselves in a position where up to four in five children are denied access to treatment in England. Where we have the highest self-harm rate in Europe and has been shown to be rising in young people. Where the amount of people seeking help is rising but funding for mental health trusts is falling. Where the number of psychiatric nurses has fell by 1.4% between 2010/11 and 2014/15. And where we have seen the quality of service drop between 2014 and 2015.
This isn’t a new problem, realising the faults in mental health services the coalition government announced their ‘No health without mental health.’ Strategy in 2011. Which promised to to improve experience, deliver a decrease in people resorting to self-harm and a decrease in those suffering mental health problems all together. However, it is clear to see this strategy was nothing but hot air and the most shocking thing I’ve found is that much of the failings have hit our children hardest. These are the ones in our society most vulnerable and most in need of treatment to help prevent problems re-occurring in later life, and we are letting them down.
So what are you going to do about it Theresa? Your party has sat in government for 6 years overseeing a mental health crisis unfold in front of you for little or no action but decreasing budgets. Even recent recommendations by the NHS to commit £1bn to services by 2020/21 although welcomed has been concluded as not enough, with 90% of Trusts believing there needs to be more investment.
We need to see a strong powerful initiative on Mental health, a true Mental Health Service, not a bare bones service propped up by the police, GP’s and charities. A dedicated organisation with it’s own resources, budget and objectives so it is truly taken seriously as a public service and can be held to account like any other.