Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 is taking place this week, between Monday May 8 – Sunday 14. It tries to bring attention and awareness to how anxiety and Depression can impact our mental health.The event is coordinated by the Mental Health Foundation https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ and this year’s theme is “Surviving or Thriving”. It’s no overstatement to say that Britain is living through a mental health crisis. From depression, to anxiety, to eating disorders, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year. Many of us increasingly experiencing daily life as a battle. Emotionally, our heads are only just above water.
I personally have a trusty black dog that calls regularly that has made me the open, understanding and compassionate person I am. I unfortunately have no control , it just happens.It suddenly creates sadness , fear, and all those turbulent feelings that drives one to self destruction , and nights with no sleep. I also get so angst ridden that I cannot leave my house, let alone phone a GP to seek help, because I fear I will be judged and blamed somehow, embarrassed and ashamed for something I have no control over. A tendency to affix blame and leave me feeling even more unworthy.
Mental illness scares us and shames us. Those who suffer are often, like me, ashamed to speak of it. Those who are lucky enough to be free of mental illness are terrified of it. When it comes to mental illness, we still don't quite get how it all works. Our treatments, while sometimes effective, often are not. And the symptoms, involving a fundamental breakdown of our perceived reality, are existentially terrifying. There is something almost random about physical illness, in how it comes upon us , a physical illness can strike anyone – and that is almost comforting. Were mental illness to fall into that same category, then it too could strike any of us, without warning. And that is terrifying.
But more than simple fear, mental illness brings out a judgmental streak that would be unthinkably grotesque when applied to physical illness. Imagine telling someone with a broken leg to "snap out of it." Imagine that a death by cancer was accompanied by the same smug headshaking that so often greets death by suicide. Mental illness is so qualitatively different that we feel it permissible to be judgmental. We might even go so far as to blame the sufferer. Because of the stigma involved it often leaves us much sicker.
It should be noted that many people believe that our Governments policies are actually fuelling the current mental health crisis. Budget cuts to mental health services combined with no genuine support are driving many people to the edge. As a result many young people and adults are left isolated facing long waiting lists for mental health therapies and diagnostic assessments. Prime Minister Maggie May herself said "On my first day in Downing Street last July, I described shortfalls in mental health services as one of the burning injustices in our country.
Despite these gestures the Tories have not delivered on their promise to give mental health the same priority as physical health.They have not offered no extra funding and have consistently raided mental health budgets over the last seven years. There are now over 6,000 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010. The number of psychiatrists employed by the NHS has fallen by four percent since 2014 , with a 10 percent drop in those who specialise in children's mental health and a similar drop in those working with older adults. Seven years of Tory Government have left those with mental health problems without the support they need. The only thing that the Tories deliver are empty words and actions that are shaping a society that does not help to tackle the injustice of unequal treatment in mental health. Also because of how dire the times are getting: not only are benefit cuts driving people to think of killing themselves, but low wages and welfare sanctions are making people ill, shortening people's lives. For many insecurity has become the way of life. You simply can't trust May and co on mental health.
To add to all of this I switched on the television the other night to find that Theresa May was attempting to 'humanise' herself by appearing on the 'One Show' with her multi millionaire investment banker husband. So, just an average extremely rich couple who live in the very posh Berkshire village of Sonning, where the Georgian, Victorian and Tudor style houses go for anything from £800k to £1.6 million. Someone who definitely knows the effects of benefit cuts, loss of local public services and zero hours contracts on the working poor of Britain. Mrs very privileged. I slept restlessly.Then I awoke to find she had revealed she wants to bring back fox hunting, overturning Labour’s 2004 ban. Their priorities could not be more clear: they’re a government for the few, not the many who want to keep blood sports in the history books. It seems that there are literally no depths of idiocy and cruelty that the Tories wont sink to in their efforts to restore this country to its backward depressing Victorian values. If this does not make you mad you have become conditioned and devoid of feeling, they simply have you under control.
Too often mental health is swept under the carpet and ignored ,either because of the stigma and taboo surrounding it , so we have to keep battling to destroy the negative attitudes and stereotypes that is directed towards people with mental health issues that disproportionately affect people living in poverty, those who are unemployed, people living in isolation and those who already face discrimination, so we also have to keep challenging policies that exasperate these problems. In the meantime I will try to keep fighting and surviving, and hope that one day mental health becomes a genuine Government priority that would help reduce peoples pain and suffering. And who knows one day might come when I will become strong and stable.
If you need to talk to someone, the NHS mental health helpline page includes organisations you can call for help, such as Anxiety UK and Bipolar UK. or call The Samaritans on 116 123.