• Michelle Partington

Speak up and speak out.

So I’m sat by the pool at a health spa contemplating so I thought I would start writing. I came away for a few days to try to switch off and have a break but for some reason I really struggle to do nothing. It just doesn’t feel right and I get bored. I should perhaps have had someone join me because bizarrely enough I think I would have relaxed more. My head just cannot switch off.

Yesterday was great because I met up with some dear friends I hadn’t seen in such a long time and it just gets you wondering. One of those friends was very heavily pregnant and looking forward to giving birth to a gorgeous baby girl. It made me think about what I’m actually doing with my life as I sit here on my own. I’m thinking about all the mistakes and attempts I’ve had at relationships along the way. What am I afraid of? Why am I always keeping people at arms length? Why am I always failing myself or others in relationships? Do I know what it is I actually want? Sometimes I’m happy to be alone, other times I really want someone there. But then I have someone there and I struggle to keep them there. Maybe it’s my insecurities or maybe I just haven’t found the right person. Who knows…

So anyway, that aside I was reminded again last night about the Panorama programme the other evening on mental health services in the NHS. I lot of people, including myself have complained about the lack of support out there for those struggling. This is not aimed at the people working harf on the frontline within the NHS but more the ‘heads of sheds’ above them who decide on budgets and facilities. Some areas are better than others and sadly sometimes it’s a postcode lottery. The government are shouting about taking mental illness seriously yet in another breath cuts are being made to facilities and infrastructure.

I actually watched the Panorama documentary and the statement that stuck out for me throughout the programme was this: “People that noone else wants to deal with” I was stunned by this comment yet it is so right. Some, not all, authorities don’t know how to support those struggling with mental illness. The programme also mentioned that this year is stated as the highest number to date (higher than any other acute illness in NHS) of people detained under the Mental Health Act (last year over 53000). Match this to the support and bedded facilities there actually are out there. I’m really pleased that in my immediate areas,.Wigan and Leigh services are well supported, including the build of a new mental health facility. Yet only a few miles away Manchester are cutting further support. There is no continuity of service sadly and if you don’t live within a certain radius of ‘good service’ you have to travel or not be treated at all. This presents further problems in itself, such as not being fit physically or mentally to travel. If an individual is admitted to a ward a fair distance from home then they are completely isolated from loved ones and vice versa.

I was shocked to hear that the least unwell patient in a bedded facility is to be made ready for discharge to allow room for another patient apparently worse off than them. So, you could be on the mend but not quite fully and you suddenly find yourself being discharged from the care you so dearly need and deserve. This could certainly push you back to square one. Patients such as these are being labelled as ‘revolving door patients’ but who’s fault is that?! Certainly not theirs. Indeed, where is the money being saved?? If a bed cannot be found trusts are paying for private beds if noone can be found ready for discharge. Again, where have you saved money? Bedded facilities are being reduced because they can’t afford to fund them yet private beds are being paid for. I’m sorry but I really don’t see the logic in that.

Something is seriously wrong here and people are being failed. It’s harder still when ‘medical experts’ make comments like: “mental health is not like any other system in the health sector, we are complex….” Yes, each individual case is different but so is each patient with a heart disease or diabetes. Each person has there own complex needs but we all deserve the right to be treated equally no matter what the illness is. What needs to stop is the distinct lack of understanding, sheer ignorance and stigma attached to mental health. Mental health is not like any other system in the health sector because noone is allowing it to be. People are dying needlessly….take it seriously.

I started my charity to help bridge a gap in an over stretched, struggling system working hard to provide all it can whilst fighting cuts and ignorance. We will support the NHS in trying to help those who need it and we fight alongside other charities in attempting to end the associated stigma. We can only do this together.


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