We are very lucky in Britain. We have a National Health Service (NHS) free at the point of delivery, paid for collectively by society. At least for now. I have had a glimpse of what life would be like without it. And I have a warning for you. If you are going to suffer from mental health problems, make sure you have plenty of money.
I try to deal with one GP at a time at our local health centre (we used to have doctors’ surgeries in the old days) because of the complexity of my illness and because it is incredibly depressing and stressful having to explain over and over why I am at the surgery and what’s wrong. I have no complaints about my GP and it was easy enough to speak with her yesterday. That was the good news. Having had a meltdown earlier this year and several depressive incidents, there is only one place to go: the GP. But when you get there, the problems don’t end.
I know I need therapy because the other form of treatment, drugs, doesn’t do enough. And because I am not just starting out with mental health issues and I am not bad enough to be sectioned, there is quite literally nothing out there bar counselling for which there is an enormous waiting list. I have signed up for workshops too because I will try anything if it might make things better. The waiting list at the moment is so long that I do not expect to get anything until well into 2018.
So much, then, for Theresa May’s worthless promises that mental health would be regarded as equal to physical health. As it’s a silent life destroyer, politicians decide to do nothing because they can get away with it. May is but another empty vessel who says one thing for effect and then does nothing.
Severe clinical depression: think about that for a moment. This is not being fed up or sad. It’s a severe illness that wrecks lives. It hasn’t quite wrecked mine but it has occasionally been a close thing. And there is literally nothing I can do unless I pay for it.
If health care is not being privatised, then what has happened here, then? If you want, need, treatment you will have to pay for it and trust me it is not just a few quid here and there. The kind of therapy I need, which is not available on the NHS, would drain me of all my earnings from my part time job which has had a considerable role in making it work.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad to still be here at all, I am pleased I have not lost my mind, I am lucky with so many aspects of my life. Yet many people are being let down by the underfunded NHS where, despite all the promises, mental health is a near irrelevance, almost a nuisance.
Attitudes have changed in some areas, but government choices haven’t. And I find the whole thing literally depressing.