wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Rage against the 1.5%

Two posts in one week you long suffering lucky people!
I felt that yesterday’s piece was a bit too whiny, so today’s shall consist of pure healthy rage.

This morning I read the below article in the Guardian. It’s interesting stuff and I would recommend having a quick look:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/28/mind-charity-mental-health-council-spending-less-than-1-point-5-per-cent

Ok, back to the rage. A recent study conducted by Mind revealed that on average, mental health receives only 1.5% of a local authority’s healthcare budget. To put this into  perspective; Mental health problems cost the country over £100 billion a year through lost working days, benefits, lost tax receipts and the cost of treatment.
Less than £40 million was invested in mental health this year. Smoking was allocated £160m, obesity £108m and sexual health £671m. Now I’ll admit, I don’t understand the practicalities of running a country, but surely the above highlights an imbalance?
A reader emailed recently and said that the current waiting list for NHS Cognitive Behavioural Treatment was eighteen months. When I went to see my local GP in 2012 the waiting list was six – nine months. Furthermore, a good friend has been on the list for seven months and was previously contacted about joining a group CBT session, at which fifteen others would be present (because anxious people feel much calmer in big groups.) If she declined then her wait would be extended. I only have three words to say to all this…. WHAT THE FUCK.
I won’t take the cheap shot and lash out at smokers and obese individuals, because mud-slinging isn’t a solution. However, I will point out that each sector deserves a fair budget and £40m is not only unjust, it’s shameful. I rarely let political issues distress me, but this report is impossible to ignore. The government may as well confess that they don’t give a shit.

Again, I’m not naive enough to think that money can simply be plucked out of the air. There are masses of worthy causes and ventures that deserve investment, so I can appreciate the government’s plight. However, after my own experiences with the NHS I hoped that things would improve. It’s been nearly two years for Chung’s sake (I’m a huge Alexa Chung fan.) Allow me to highlight what happened:

First visit

  • Received little to no sympathy. I even brought my dad because I didn’t think that I would be taken seriously..
  • Instantly advised to take medication, without any explanation as to how it works… and was given a shitty leaflet. (Great)
  • Told to have a bath and drink Camomile tea (are you taking the piss?)
  • Was also told that there is no ‘real’ cure for anxiety. (Wonderful thing to say to a girl having a break down.)

Second visit – the medication made me feel suicidal, so I wanted an additional consultation

  • “You haven’t even tried it properly” snapped the female GP. Only when I told her that it made me want to hurt myself did she sigh and accept the result.
  • Suggested I try Sertralin
  • I asked about CBT and was told about the six – nine month waiting list.
  • She signed me ‘off work’ for a month and sent me on my way.

Looking back now as a more stable and experienced woman, I feel enraged about the way I was treated. One word… EMPATHY, ironically this is something I find a lot of GPs lack in regards to mental health.  Whilst I appreciate being ‘signed off’ as it allowed me to have a rest, I can’t help but wonder whether this was her way of getting rid of me.

I couldn’t risk the waiting list as I was in desperate need of medical support, so I decided to go private. Fortunately I was very lucky, I could pay for my own treatment and my parents also contributed. But we shouldn’t have been forced down that road. On average CBT costs between £40 – £100 per visit and it is highly recommended that you have at least eight sessions. In total, my therapy bill was £890. That’s right, I still have the receipts… I was forced pay nearly one thousand pounds of my own hard earned money simply to get some help. Is that acceptable? What about those who can’t afford to pay that amount? We essentially abandon them. Sorry about that, you’ll have to try again next year. Don’t forget the Camomile tea.

In an ideal world – AKA my mental health fantasy, this is what I want:

  • A designated GP in every practice who specialises in mental health care. This means that they will possess a detailed understanding of each disorder and the treatment options available. They must also have empathy, lots of empathy!
  • Free one year gym membership for anyone suffering with Depression, Anxiety or Panic Disorder
  • A free course of CBT with a maximum waiting list of two weeks
  • Five free holistic treatments to be redeemed each year such as; massage and acupuncture
  • A safe house in each town where a person can stay for a few days if they need a proper rest. (No, not similar to being sectioned.) I mean a retreat that offers a calm environment with a spa, library, gym, restaurant and fully trained therapists (this has clearly been catered to meet my tastes.)
  • One bottle of champagne a week – sorry I got carried away.

It all seriousness, it makes sense for the government to invest more in mental health care. £100 billion a year in losses is excruciating and can be reduced with the right support.

I encourage everyone to have a look at the below and get involved. I’ll be honest, the video isn’t great initially but it becomes more clear towards the end.
http://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/policies-issues/in-parliament/mind-manifesto-election-2015/

The 2015 General Election is the perfect reason to take action.

Categories: Anxiety

Tags: , ,

7 replies

  1. Claire, I feel your rage. I’m relatively lucky in that my former company insurance paid out for Treatment and then when they canned me, for being mad, I coud afford to continue the insurance. But only until they decided I was a “chronic case” and withdrew the funding. My experience of the NHS has so far been relatively good. In 6 weeks I’ve gone from seeing my GP to going for detox next week then 3 months rehab / therapy after that. All (not quite but relatively) free. As for the GP experience I can completely empathise. Can you see what I did there? 😉
    But I do have some sympathy when they work 12 hour days and you get you 10 min slot in 2 weeks time. Note, it’s sympathy to empathy since it’s now so long since I’ve been able to work a 12 hour day due to mental health issues.
    As for your manifesto…..completely agree. Let’s get Russell Brand involved, although he’ll only tell you not to vote, so not much use there then. 🙂

    Wow…that was quite a rant. And breathe……

    Morgan

    • Good rant, I’m impressed! 😉
      You’re right actually, I should be more considerate towards NHS doctors as they must be unbelievably overworked. I think my own experience have made me biased. I’m glad that yours was more positive, it proves that not all GPs are bad.

  2. Hi!
    I stumbled across your website whilst looking for help for my anxiety and depression. It’s quite helpful and a comfort to know I’m not alone!
    Im currently studying for my MA but just finished working in a policy team with public health in Local Government. I too agree that MH is underfunded (I waited 19 months for counselling and have been on anti-depressants for 10 years) but your suggestions just can’t be realised. Public Health merged into local authorities last year so the funding for different areas of health care are blurred (they run anti-obesity campaigns for example) . MH still lies with GP’s but they fundhold, so practice varies; care is dependand on your practice. However overall targets for budgets are set by Whitehall. My point is, that whilst government is trying to patch up the billions of pounds deficit, they will never ever make it easy for any GP to give a gym pass, and the like. I was commissioned to write a report into youth unemployment and the cost to the treasury. My team went to the HoP to pitch a combative strategy and we still didn’t make a difference and we’re talking at least 3 times higher costs than those associated with MH. We’ve got a long way to go so let’s keep spreading awareness!!!

    Elsie x

    • Wow, this is really interesting. Thanks so much for sharing Elsie. I had no idea that GPs had the option to fundhold. I agree, spreading awareness is vital.
      Any chance you could share more information with me via email? I’d love to hear more about the combative strategy you pitched. claireeastham@gmail.com

  3. Here here Claire! I’ve had a really similar experience and it’s taken me about four GPs to find one who was compassionate and said something comforting along the lines of ‘Mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s all the same’ and has even scheduled me in for regular visits to catch up and try different things. I live in the borough of Islington now and they seem to be a lot more equipped to deal with mental health problems than my previous borough Harringey (who are AWFUL by the way!) Private therapy is costing me a fortune but I’m slowly making progress. CBT is a great help.
    I’ve just started a closed group on Facebook called The One in Four- we’re all predominantly anxiety or depression sufferers and it’s a nice place for us all to feel a little less alone and just have people to talk to whenever needed. Maybe speak to you on there some time! https://www.facebook.com/groups/theoneinfour
    Nicola 🙂

    • Hi Nicola,
      Great to hear from you! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with anxiety and the NHS.
      Private therapy is extremely costly, however if you get it via Anxiety UK the rates are significantly reduced. You just have to become a member which I think is £30.
      I’ll definitely check out your Facebook group too 🙂

  4. Hi,

    All the info is available on Leeds City Deal website, I can’t share the info that hasn’t been published, I’m afraid that’s for Cleggs eyes only (he has a sweaty handshake FYI, maybe he’s a secret stressed?). I’m going to qualify soon as a social worker specialising in MH and also as an AMPH so I’ll be able to help the cause from the roots. I’ll check in soon 🙂 xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s