Today, I read a Buzzfeed post of people’s experiences with the mental health services in the UK. Pretty much every post mentioned doctors ignoring the issue, GPs failing to refer the patient to proper mental health departments, and people being stuck on medication that was only making the illness worse.
Phew, its not just me.
Right? I was left feeling not so alone, my experiences aren’t specific to me. Thats good. Reassuring.
However, this merely proves the presence of a nation-wide issue in the mental health services provided by the NHS. Mental health is still considered to be subordinate to physical illness (though for now, lets just not even go there, thats a whole other rant), and is therefore ignored by GPs when a person comes to see them about it (queue response from one of my own GPs responding “I thought you wanted to talk about your mental health” after I had explained to her that I was grieving).
Many people talked about how they had been refused adequate treatment. Either their GPs had ignored them, or pretended to listen and help but in reality did neither. Shockingly, more than one experience I read stated that they had never actually been referred to specialist care after being told they would be.
Others talked about how unfair it is that good therapy tends to be private, leaving many people with no access to the help they need and deserve.
Finally, one person commented that even finding a good therapist didn’t mean that the struggle towards good mental health is anywhere near over. Like myself, they argued that finding a good therapist only began a new hurdles race. Facing fees, overbooked practitioners, and ethical practice (which although good, definitely still an issue) all standing in the way of getting help.
I started free counselling sessions over two months ago at Uni. From the first session I began to feel comfortable with the therapist, forming a connection. They listened to my experiences, sympathised and showed true compassion. They wanted to help. Starting to open up, it felt like the struggle may be nearly over. I could see a therapist who cared, and begin to accept and understand my issues.
But this is where the problems began, again. Because my therapist was a private practitioner standing in at the Uni, she couldn’t continue my treatment beyond the Uni’s 5 session limit due to ethical and financial reasons. And as we agreed at the beginning of our sessions, 5 sessions just wouldn’t be enough for me.
The mental health services in the UK are flawed. With the NHS cut left, right, and centre, private care is the best available, alienating those who can’t afford it, subjecting those suffering from mental health problems to suffer unaided. Physical illness is treated for free on the NHS. Unlimited drugs and care provided. Why do we continue to treat disease of the brain differently to disease of any other kind, or any other physical illness. Mental illness is a physical illness.
Original Freudian psychoanalytic therapy is argued to be for the rich Austrians who could afford it with nothing better to do than to get therapy. Modern therapy continues to be aimed towards the wealthy who can afford it, rather than simply for those who need it.