The Scandal Of Our Mental Health

  • It really did come as no surprise whatsoever to wake up to the BBC Breakfast News plastering our deplorable Mental Health statistics across the airwaves this morning.  Following a report by The Mental Health Policy Group from the London School of Economics, whose numbers include some of the country’s best mental health experts, a few shocking statistics have been published and words like “discrimination” and “inequality” used when examining the NHS’ poor record in addressing Mental Health.

    The report states that 6 million people in this country will suffer some form of depression or anxiety disorder, yet three quarters of these will not receive any treatment.  One third of families will be affected by poor mental health in some way.

    The BBC wheeled out Care Services Minister Paul Burstow for comment.  All he could do was agree that the statistics are deplorable and stated that there should be more funding for counselling and evidence-based “NICE-approved” psychological talking therapies.  This is his first mistake!  Such therapies don’t work for everyone and the NHS has, for far too long now, treated it’s main approved therapy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and it’s derivatives as a “one-size-fits-all” solution.  I have lost count of the amount of clients I have successfully treated that have said CBT and Counselling simply didn’t work for them.

    Of course, I am biased in favor of Hypnotherapy and the more holistic approach, but I am the first to hold my hands up and admit when something isn’t working as it should.  When examining the efficacy of various other therapies, NICE would tell you that there is not enough good quality empirical research to support their use.  But, at the same time they are very laze-fair about finding said research or recommending that more research is undertaken.  To give an example; Dr’s Nightingale & Duff authored a startling piece of research at Liverpool University some years ago.  It studied the efficacy of hypnosis in addressing the quality of life in dementia patients.  The results were incredibly positive and would seem to advocate the use of hypnosis in this area, or at least the funding of further research.  Yet very few mental health professionals have even heard of this body of work, let alone read it.  All when the Government is advocating better care in the area of dementia.  Anyone who would like a copy of this research drop me a line.  I’d be happy to send it to you.

    So in addressing these awful statistics, perhaps NICE and the NHS should entertain a little bit of thinking outside of the box instead of resorting to the same tired old interventions which really only seem to work properly for a few people.  Why not be a little radical in our thinking when addressing the issue.  Let’s face it, thinking conservatively has hardly been successful has it?

    Negative stigma associated with mental health is also rife.  So much so, in fact, that I question how accurate the figures are as we tend to shy away from this issue.  Having served 22+ years in the British Army, stigma is something I am only too painfully aware of as it’s even worse in the services.  We still seem to have this British “stiff upper lip” thing going on and we really need to realize that this helps nobody, least of all the individual coming to terms with poor mental health.  We need to better educated the general public so that poor mental health can be recognized more readily and appropriate help sought.  I’m not just talking about celebrities coming forward to talk about their issues or the helplines provided when one soap or another has a mental health story line.  These things help as they normalize the issue, but they’re not enough.  I’m talking about proper funding, both for research and in publicizing the issue.

    As I’m located on the Hampshire / Dorset border, I also see the evidence of the post code lottery.  I have clients from at least three different NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) and the differences between them in their handling of mental health is startling!  I believe that we also need to standardize the way in which we handle the issue across all PCT’s.  it really doesn’t help when one individual receives questionable or poor care whilst another, literally just down the road, is receiving decent care.

    A worthwhile report which has highlighted the need to get this issue sorted now.  Let’s just hope that organisations like NICE sit up and take heed of its content, rather than letting it drift into obscurity as much of the empirical research already seems to do.  Of course, there is also the question which nobody seems to be asking; Why is our Mental Health so poor?  Perhaps that is a question best left for another post in this blog?

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