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#MentalHealthCareSoPoor: An insight into the dire state of UK Mental Health Care

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Last weekend, the hashtag #MentalHealthCareSoPoor began trending. As more and more people caught onto the hashtag, the revelations that came to light from people currently suffering with mental health were shocking. Given that one in four people in the UK will likely experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, you would think that the government would be better prepared to help people when they need it.

But sadly, this hashtag has only indicated how dire the state of mental health care is in this country. From young people suffering with depression and anxiety (the most common mental disorder in Britain) who are left on waiting lists for years, to people who are struggling to get help so much that they feel the only way to get attention is through harming themselves, it is clear that there are people in the UK desperately in need of support who are being failed by the system.

According to a report by MentalHealth.org, mental health services in the UK are massively overstretched, with long waiting times and, in some regions, a real lack of specialist services. Public spending on mental health care support is focused almost entirely on coping with crisis, with only a significant investment put into prevention and day-to-day management of illnesses. The report, which was last updated in 2015, also found that mental health research receives only 5.5% (£115 million) of the UK’s total health research spending. In short; the lengths to which the government is currently working to support people suffering from mental health issues are pitiful and nowhere near demand.

Knowing that ‘crises’ are taken more seriously than long-term mental health issues, it’s probably not surprising how many tweets in the #MentalHealthCareSoPoor hashtag referred to self-harm and suicide as a cry for help. It is however, a harrowing feat for a vulnerable person to have to go to in order to be listened to, understood and treated in the most helpful, empathetic way. In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Who knows how many failed, but no less serious, attempts have been made as a final request for support. Some tweets also lambasted the way in which many GPs have dismissed their mental health concerns or attempts of self-diagnosis.

Young people seem to be suffering in a very particular state of isolation, spurned by a lack of compassion or genuine acknowledgement from GPs, teachers and sometimes even parents. The stresses of exams and higher education affect all students, of course – but those with existing or quickly burgeoning mental health issues too often seem to be dismissed. 10% of children and young people (aged 5 to 16) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, but 70% of children and adolescents who experience such issues have not had appropriate interventions at an early age to prevent more devastating effects. So not only are the younger generation being failed when/if they do develop a mental health issue, they also aren’t being helped before, in arguably the most crucial stages of their development.

In the same way that the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is attempting to promote awareness and put an end to the systematic racism that still exists in the world, the #mentalhealthcaresopoor hashtag has the power to instil the grave seriousness of the UK’s failure to facilitate proper support for those with mental health issues. In the aftermath of Brexit, we must ensure that we are making progress in these matters rather than making them worse. Mental health issues can affect anyone and can cause devastating affects in the way we get though each and every day. It is so important that people take notice of the downfalls of UK mental health care and campaign to improve it for the better. Lives depend on it, after all.




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