So many people suffer from mental illness, so many people suffer silently in fact. So much so that I find the oft quoted ‘1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues in their life‘ statistic way off. It must be. However debating statistics aside, one thing which must be talked about is that there is a great number of, often, young people who are so close to death. Their lungs are fine, their heart is fine, their blood is fine, there is no cancer, no bruises, no aches and no signs. But their mind is broken. My mind is broken.
This error in the human mind is bringing millions of people close to death. That is not to say they will experience death right now, but it brings them very close to it. That is a travesty. There is no rhyme or reason to let so many feel so close to death. Especially at such a young age. Death should be reserved for the old who have lived a life of experiences. But there is a huge lack of investment in mental health services, which is compounding the issue.
There are typically two sides to mental health investment, one for and one against. One is a huge group of people and advocates who realise the potential that is locked away behind mental issues, not to mention the unnecessary suffering. The second seem to believe we are just a bunch of whiney millennials.
The second argument is essentially based on the idea that mental health is a ‘new’ problem. We should all stop whining and get on with it like they did in the old days. The old days. Oh the good old days.
Mental health did not exist in the old days because it was never talked about, not because it didn’t happen. Just one example of this is to know that 49% of all US troops in World War 1 and 2 who returned home for medical reasons did so for mental issues, not from bombs or bullets. Then there are the people who were not at war. Women were second class citizens in the ‘old days’, and were always the ones left behind in war. There were no mental health provisions. So where would they go to speak about any issues?
I also absolutely believe mental health issues are exacerbated by modern life. Technology and societal shifts are progressing at such an intense rate that the human mind cannot evolve quickly enough. There needs to be a service that can sufficiently ease that transition. At the moment or in my experience the NHS (or any other health service in the 7 countries I have lived) do not quite do that job, yet. They are either too insufficient or too expensive.
The NHS was for me the most disappointing. It is free, which is its major benefit. However it is only a benefit if it is of some use. When you have anxiety troubles, depression and other illnesses, they severely affect your motivation. It can take all of your energy to get up in the morning and to be seen in public. Thats why it was so difficult to do these things; travel to the nearest mental health services, 1.5 hours away. Then be told ‘thank you for registering with us, we understand your going through a difficult time, as soon as we have someone available they will do an assessment – in the next 3 to 6 months.‘ Someone who feels close to death doesn’t like the idea of tomorrow. Let alone another 90 days or 180 days.
I was devastated. It really hit me hard. It was the lack of urgency, which struck me. If I had broken my leg, I would of been seen instantly. A cast, a team of doctors, an x ray and anything else I required. I go their with a broken brain and the response is come back in 6 months. I didn’t feel I had 6 months in me at the time.
Maybe they were right, I am still here after all. In fact I am feeling close to the best I have felt in a long time. So were they right? I feel like the answer is no. That was 6 years ago. And baring a 7 month period and now, I have been dealing with terrible illnesses. I needed help and still do.
I heard back from the NHS 3 weeks later, with a letter describing how they understand my issues and want to help. That as soon as a therapist is available I will be assigned one. They spelled my second name wrong and got my date of birth wrong. A very valued patient indeed.
At that time I had a society which did not want to know, and a health service which was in no rush to treat a man they didnt know the name of. The NHS isn’t my worst mental health services experience, and I am sure I will write about the services in other countries. But the NHS is the national health services of my home country. I truly hoped their would look after their citizens better.
Maybe it has changed? If you have any experiences I would love to hear them. I haven’t used their services for 6 years so I hope it is now much more accessible, caring and above all else useful.