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.


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.


  • 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.


  • Hi Katharine,

    read your article in Woman Alive magazine, this month, December issue. Thought it was really good.

    Just read, The system blog.
    I haven’t had much to do with mental health and with NHS as such. But my daughter Zoe, who is 28, has some physical disability, and has anxiety issues. I’ve had some anxiety issues too.

    After reading Jamie’s comment,
    today, Sat afternoon, my husband has just made a non gluten pumpkin cake, with some rosehip syrup he also made, and has just now realised, after its cooked, that he forgot the eggs!
    But he said it looks okay.

    Sorry to hear you are going through a bad patch at the moment Katharine.

    Yvonne, Crawley, West Sussex

  • Dear Katharine,

    It’s been a long time since my last being in touch by way of leaving comment in this section. As always, another fantastic blog with its transparency and raw honesty.

    As this article was written by yourself some eight weeks away from this reply, I’m hoping that you are somewhat more at ease, and that things have moved on for you treatment wise?
    Forgive me for being direct, but did you either visit your A&E department, or self harmed?? I ask only because you spoke of it, and your desperation was clear. Something I’m sure the psychiatric team would have picked up on should they have met with you face to face.

    I understand and share in your frustration toward a failing NHS. Out of touch and insensitive psychiatric teams, overstretched G.P’s, and the talking heads that are our modern day politicians. One can be forgiven for thinking that fixing this system is all just simply too big, too much to handle. I guess all the above have been, or are genuinely every bit as frustrated as we are in solving this enigma.

    I only know that healing the sick must be an astronomical task, that our hopes might very well be misplaced, when thrown before such a broken system. Where individuals are misdiagnosed, young woman are told to take paracetamol for stomach pain and sent away, only to discover they have cervical cancer. Men who are told they have migrain headaches when they have a tumours.

    When you mention location and post code lotteries; being close to schools, parks, church, even supermarkets and leisure centres. My genuine prayer for you is that you, Mike and Elijah are close to Allmighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ and have the protection of His Holy Spirit, the other is just geography.

    I am hopeful that by now you are making headway to receiving the treatment you so deserve.

    God bless and keep you

  • Thank you, Katherine. Just finished reading “I Thought there would be Cake”. I, too, have ME/CFS ( diagnosed 1993) and depression plus anxiety (for about 40 years so far.
    My husband has a progressive degenerative condition and has effectively been told the same as many of us who have ongoing mental health problems. You are right, it’s about money and the managemant or lack of it of what resources the NHS has.

  • You are a shining light to your community and country, a lady full of God given wisdom that He has actually given to you. I grew up in Africa (Kenya) and I can tell you that true joy and not just happiness/contentment is only found in the Lord and not in what one processes. Your mental health is a thorn in the flesh but the Lord will take you through it all just like Elijah! He has given you a son to Glorify himself while he(your son) will be the reason for your stability. That’s why despite poverty the most resilient women I know are the poor with great hope and faith. They do not ask much but for day to day providence. Isn’t it actually what the Lord Jesus taught us. ” tomorrow has it’s own problems”. To a human eye especially western view they are to the edge of life yet they are so joyful it’s insane, no depression at all. This society has just taken off the very fabric of how a society under God works. We are only a recipient of evil, selfish human behaviour and is quickly getting into our society already! If HSE is failing you think of the calamity that would befall Africa with no GPS… Our job is to persevere knowing without doubt that the Lord knows us as He’s children through His son Jesus Christ and that we’re never alone as prodigals wherever we are. He will never leave us or for sake us till the end. Let God be God.

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