Barely 48 hours after the dawn of 2021, mental health services are again outcasts from the optimistic future envisioned by Boris Johnson in his New Year’s message.
A rosy picture was sketched by a spokesperson from NHS England:
‘‘Talking therapy sessions, which the public can self-refer on to for both face-to-face and online sessions and referrals, are now rapidly increasing, while the establishment of all-age 24/7 crisis service help lines, and self-help websites such as Every Mind Matters can also aid those people going through a tough time,’’
But a different scenario has emerged in The Guardian survey findings that more than 6 million people in England received antidepressants in the three months to September – more than one in ten and the highest figure on record.
Unlike the anonymous source from NHS England, experts in the field of mental health have put their names to the following reservations:
‘‘I’m shocked .. about the massive extent of the reduction in referrals for psychological help during a time of anxiety, stress and distress for the whole population … (adding) to the existing profound direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic and hampering our efforts towards recovery for individuals, families and communities,’’ Dr Esther Cohen Tovee: Chair of the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology.
‘‘People are going to their GPs with symptoms of mental illness and being sent away with a bag of medication, having been put on an 18 month waiting list,’’ Lucy Schonegevel, deputy campaigns director at the mental health charity Rethink.
‘‘Years of austerity led to rising rates of psychiatric morbidity and, at the same time, reduced availability and access to care…what is clear is that it will take time to get back to where we were before the pandemic, let alone where we should be in terms of delivering high quality mental health services,’’ Scott Weich, professor at the mental health research unit at the University of Sheffield.
Helen Clark, Campaign Manager for the Child Mental Health Charter Campaign urged policymakers, professionals in the field of mental health and education, communities, families and individuals to reject panaceas and confront reality.
‘‘The IKEA – ‘do it yourself’ approach would NOT ‘do’ for ANY OTHER BRANCH of health care, yet this Government has institutionalised it for mental health services!
At a time when children face new school closures – and the nation prepares for a seemingly inevitable lockdown, anonymous ‘NHS spokespeople’ tell us that online toolkits will ‘do’ for mental illness.
No. They won’t.
MPs return to Westminster on 11th January.
Put that date in your diary and tell YOUR MP that the children they represent need WORLD-BEATING mental health services in 2021 – not a WORLD BEATING mental health pandemic!
And make 2021 the year that the 1983 Mental Health Act is replaced by a WORLD-BEATING reform that puts every child’s needs at its heart!’’