Imagine going to see your GP.
Imagine after a few visits they diagnose you with…insert any physical illness you can think of here…
Imagine your doctor then says,
‘Sorry, the NHS has a guarantee to start treatment, 18 weeks after diagnosis, for every illness and malady except for the one you’ve got…’
Quite rightfully you ask,
‘What the fuck?’
S/he may talk at length about pressure on services…priorities…efficiencies…
What they actually mean is, because there is no guarantee of how long you’ll wait, there’s no guarantee of anything – any treatment at all.
The folk in charge of services allocate their budgets in line with legislation.
Welcome to the world of mental ill health.
If the law points to folk having an 18 week waiting time – the budgets will reflect that.
If the law says, ‘Do what the fuck you like, but if they’re really loopy, incarcerate them,’ then that’s how those in power at the NHS will react accordingly.
Parity of esteem. That’s all that’s required. Put us on a level playing field, and that will be a great start.
But surely this division was made because, well, you know, mental health problems aren’t that serious. Surely the powers that be wanted the limited resources in the NHS to be given to those areas that need it most…you know, cancer ‘n’ shit…
It might be a surprise to hear that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35 in the UK.
Prior to austerity measures being put in place by this government, there were just over 5 thousand suicides a year in the UK.
Since services have been cut back in the past 5 years, disproportionately in the case of mental health, that figure is currently a sickening 6 thousand a year – that’s an extra thousand people a year dying – 75 percent of whom are men.
‘Something must be done!’ declared Norman Lamb, Minister of State for health – primarily, the guy in charge of mental health services in the UK.
That’s right, in June, 2013, the very man who should be initiating action in this area, told a gathering at the Royal College of Psychiatrists,
‘Achieving parity of esteem between physical and mental health has long been a personal priority of mine, and something which I take every opportunity to promote in government. We must ensure that this is more than just rhetoric.’
And yet, here we all are.
In the past 5 years, rhetoric is all we’ve had.
Oh, that and cuts…deep, swingeing cuts.
Sure, England has been given a promise of an extra £1.5 billion for mental health services…that from the same people who sold us parity of esteem…
This doesn’t do away with the artificial division between physical and mental health services – although it’s a welcome injection into decimated services – it exacerbates the situation.
Added to that, it’s not unlike being mugged in the street, where your assailant comes back, gives you a couple of quid, and says,
‘Here mate, get yourself a coffee!’
I’ve joined a campaign that’s aiming to change this.
You can find it on Twitter here
On Thunderclap here
Or get involved via the campaign website here
We can make a difference
Walk a mile