It had started to feel like we were making real strides forward when it comes to how we deal with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Princes William and Harry spoke out about this important issue recently to raise awareness for the charity Heads Together, and shared details about the mental turmoil they went through after losing their mum.
The government has also pledged to ‘transform’ the way mental health problems are dealt with, with Theresa May promising to tackle the ‘stigma’ around mental issues, and NHS England saying that an extra £1 billion a year should be invested in mental health services by 2021.
So the recent news that NHS bosses plan to cut mental health spending in parts of England feels like a major setback. According to Freedom of Information data obtained by Pulse magazine, spending on mental health services is being cut by £4.5 million in five regions of England, including Sefton, Scarborough, the Isle of Wight, St Helens, and Walsall in the West Midlands. That hardly sounds to me like we’re ‘transforming’ the way mental health problems are being dealt with.
Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said the cuts go ‘against government pronouncements that mental health will have priority’ and that they would have a ‘damaging effect’. And, Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said: “Despite the raised hopes following the royal princes’ recent campaigning for mental health and the London Marathon, cuts to services across the country continue and people seeking help are still being failed.
A recent report found that 40 per cent of the mental health trusts in England had seen cuts to their budgets, and figures show mental health trusts received none of the extra £8bn funding for the NHS over the last four years.” It seems to be yet another case of empty promises with patients and their families being let down once again.
Official figures released early this year, for instance, show that mental health patients are still being forced to travel hundreds of miles for care due to bed shortages. Many experts have warned that being split from families for long periods causes ‘significant psychological damage’.
It simply isn’t good enough and not nearly enough is being done to address the scandalous shortcomings in mental health services. The fact is that mental health should be given the same priority as physical health. Especially as this is an issue that affects so many of us.
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in four adults in the UK is likely to experience a mental health problem at some stage in their lifetime. Mind’s website www.mind.org.uk provides lots of helpful information and advice, including where to go for help and support, tips for everyday living, a guide to your legal rights and contact details of their helpline.
So, if you notice changes in your behaviour or that of a loved one, talk about it, reach out and seek help… and remember, mental health problems are something that can affect any one of us at any time.Here's to your good health,
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.