The System

So, I am going to jump back onto that old thing – the system for treating mental health.

We all know (I hope!) that mental ill health does not have parity of care with physical ill health. Why would it? It’s only the brain, and honestly, that could never be considered as important to maintain and keep healthy as your body. It’s not like it controls your body or anything. Also, when you are mentally ill, it’s not like it effects your body at all.

Who needs parity of care, really??

Anyone who has been following my mental health adventures since moving to Reading, will be aware that my referral didn’t happen when it should have, and that I was cross about it. You will be pleased to know though, that I have now receive medical attention, however, the outcome has been less than satisfactory. Please, stay with me. Those who have mental health problems will be familiar with the journey I am on. Those without – it is helpful for the rest of you to understand what it is that those with mental ill health have to battle to get treatment.

So, I reached a point last week where I was actually afraid. My mental health had deteriorated to such a point that I felt unstable and like I was dangerously close to crisis. I had an appointment booked with a GP I liked but because I wanted to see the GP I trusted, I had to wait 10 days for the appointment. I didn’t really know what to do, but my old health visitor in London had been helping me and so I updated her on the situation.

She chased up my referral and, on learning that there was very little that could be done from that end, called my GP. I spoke to the GP on Friday evening and she said she would speak to the psychiatric team to try to speed up my referral and to still come in to see her today (Wednesday).

So, this morning I went off, feeling anxious and nervous. I am aware I need to change medication and I need some medical support. I have had depression and anxiety diagnosed for 12 years, undiagnosed I would add on another 3. I am used to it, understand it and when well can manage it effectively.

However, new doctors make me nervous and it’s hard to tell how a new NHS trust manages mental health care.

I went in, explained how I was and what had been going on. Consider here, that last week my mental health was considered serious enough for the GP to feel that I needed to be monitored and to make me aware that I can go to A&E any time, if I feel I am entering crisis.

She was great. She was understanding and I went away feeling that things would be handled well. She did what she had said she would do and called the local psychiatric team to talk about my referral and this is where I get mad.

They had read the letter from my old psychiatric team – which details my mental health history of over 10 years of ill health. I have been told that the depression is chronic due to it being clinical. Meaning I am likely to live with it for life.

The team though, felt that I don’t need to be under their care at this time. They haven’t met me, spoken to me on the phone or had any direct contact with me at all. Yet, they know that I don’t need to see them at this time.

WHAT IS GOING ON???

Can you imagine another chronic condition, which required medication – medication which was not helping to manage the condition and therefore needed to be changed – not being seen by a specialist in that field?

Imagine if Mike (my husband) was told by his GP that due to his current state of his diabetes, he doesn’t currently need to be under care. That if he gets more ill, they could review it.

In other words – when you hit crisis we will see you.

I will be seen, if I get to the point of being suicidal or am self harming. That is the next stage in my mental deterioration. That is how bad things have been. That though, is not serious enough.

So, here I am. Doing the only thing I have to do. Writing and hoping that something, someday will change.

The problem is, I can’t even be all that angry with the NHS. It is a stupid system, totally broken. But that is because there is not the funding to improve it. Imagine if we treated people earlier – how many crisis could be prevented? How much money could be saved?

No though, we can’t do that, because it would involve sensible thinking. Parity of care. I am angry with Mr Hunt. With Theresa May. With all the politicians who talk about needing to improve mental health care and yet oversee a system that doesn’t have the money to treat people until they are ready to die.

It is a failure of care. A failure of management. Inefficient and incompetent.

It seems, that when we were looking for a house, not only should we have thought about location, possibility of community, schools, churches, vicinity to parks etc we should also have considered the NHS trust, their priorities, funding and attitude towards mental health. It’s too much to think about. Too much to fight for. Too exhausting.

The end.

2 Comments

  • Parity of care is appalling sadly it doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon they cant find money for mental health but can for war trident and Buckingham palace says a lot about there priorities if it was physical health people would be protesting in the streets

  • Dear Katharine,

    Yes indeed – the NHS needs a firework inserted …
    Here’s hoping that your own situation palliates as I know you feel close to crisis.

    It was good to meet you on Thursday (World MH Day) and see Jo once again whose talk I sadly missed but whose support for you was so evident.

    I have finished reading your latest (!) book and enjoyed it mucho, especially from page 120 onwards. Re banana cake-gate … I once made a victoria sponge forgetting to put the flour in (ugh) but I was about 10 years old. Many years later I ran a little organic wholesale bakery in Battersea for some 12 years and there were many disasters but no-one died methinks. As it says in 2 Corinthians when we are weak we are strong.

    May God continue to bless you and shine His light on you, Mike and Elijah.

    Jamie

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