The disparity between how physical and mental health is treated; a huge problem in our medical services

So it’s currently half twelve and I can’t sleep so I’ve decided to vent through my blog. I am a mental health blogger and campaigner for the simple reason that I feel there is a huge disparity between how physical and mental health is treated. Over the years I have come to accept the fact, rightly or wrongly, that there is often a stigma in society towards mental health and have become so determined to change that. One thing I still find it hard to stomach however, is the difference in care, compassion and help that is provided by some medical professionals when it comes to mental health and physical health. 

 

Now I don’t want to go into to much detail but my beautiful and perfect nephew was born a few weeks ago and passed away. It is hands down the worst thing that has ever happen to my family and that will ever happen to us. I don’t feel it right to discuss publicly as I am not the only one hurting but what I will say is that I am now, more than ever, focusing on self care to ensure I stay strong and well enough to be a support to my family and stop myself from relapsing.

 I am only mentioning this as if highlights the desperate need I am in for support yet have not received. Part of my self care was to visit my GP, who I have discovered is away for the next year (this is ideal). When I have seen a doctor however, I was told that I am not in need of support or the preventative measures I was requesting as I am not currently at risk of suicide. This is unacceptable. 

 

I have been visiting the doctors about my mental health for over ten years now, I do have to say that my first GP was phenomenal and literally saved my life, he was considerate, caring and was determined to provide me with the care I needed, until he unfortunately had to move away. Since then I have found time and time again that mental health is not treated with the compassion is needs, the urgency it needs or the basic treatment that it needs. I am sick of hearing, ‘there are limited funds’, or ‘the services are stretched right now’ because all though that may be the case, people are dying because there is not a basic health care system in place to support those with mental illness. 

 

Here are some ways in which I feel mental health is treated different than physical health.

  1. Wait times

If you were severely physically poorly you would be seen by a medical professional or there would be outrage. There are times where you even have medical care as a precaution. All though the NHS is stretched and wait times may vary, as a rule if you are poorly or have a life threatening illness you will be seen and you will be helped. With mental health that is NOT the case. I have waited YEARS for treatment in the past and in some cases been refused treatment with no sense of urgency,although my life was at risk. There is no equality.

 

2. Attitudes

Imagine how you would feel if you were to seek medical help for a physical illness to find you are disregarded or mocked. You would be furious, right? This is the case day in day out  for many people when it comes to mental health be it by society or medical professionals, and I’m not exaggerating. I have been told to ‘get over it’, ‘get on with it’ and even in the last week that I should only seek medical attention ‘if your suicidal thoughts pop back’, despite the fact I was seeking preventative measures to ensure my health remains stable. My mental health is only ever treated when I am in crisis and I am never supported in remaining well. That is not equality.

 

3. Medication

Now this one is tricky as I’m sure many medications make people unwell and I would never want to belittle that, but I have been on antidepressant medication for over ten years now. My first GP was amazing, he saved my life and was unbelievably patient, when he moved away I had to see various doctors and the consensus seems to be to take the medication no matter how poorly it may make you. No voice of my own, no choices – take it or nothing, like I’m that child at the dinner table that wont eat their tea. 

That is not equality.

 

4. Funding 

Now is the time we need to speak up, we need more funding for mental health services. I’m sick of hearing of the child that died because they didn’t get the help they needed. Of that person that killed themselves, or the month, sometimes year long waiting lists. Fed up of hearing patients are being held up in cells because there are no beds. Of the fact I am not yet poorly enough to help. I know the NHS is stretched for both physical and mental health services, but poorly people dying when it can be prevented – it’s wrong. This is not equality.

 

Can I just end this rant by saying I am not highlighting any of these issues to put people off visiting their doctor. It is imperative that if you are unwell and struggling that you seek medical help, and the GP is usually the perfect place to do that. Some doctors are kind, caring and want to help so I thank them and ask you, please do not be put off. I am highlighting these issues to make others aware that they do not have to accept these sub standard levels of care. Your mental health is important and you have just as much right to be treated for your mental health as you do being treated for a physical condition. Do not let ANY medical professional make you feel unworthy of care, you are important and your over all health is important  too. 

 

As always remember, its okay to talk.

 

x

One Response

  1. Terry
    | Reply

    It’s so true. While at university, I one woke up at 6am with severe chest pains, pounding heart rate, sweats and numbness in my left arm.

    I had never had anything like this before so I assumed it was something wrong with my heart.

    I went to A&E and was seen within 15 minutes. After checking me over they decided it wasn’t heart related. One of the doctors even offhandedly asked if I had ever experienced anxiety before. As I said no they just sent me home.

    At a follow up visit to the campus GP, I was asked again, had I ever been diagnosed with anxiety. I said no. I was told I was fine, apart from needing to lose a bit of weight, and sent home.

    A third occasion, I visited the walk-in centre at Blackpool after not sleeping a wink for three nights in a row. I was shaking, dizzy, nauseous, had heart palpitations and at this point was having panic attacks every couple of hours. After waiting for about two hours I was told that they “don’t just give out sleeping tablets so what did I want them to do”. It was pretty clear that I wanted them to help fix the problem that was causing me to lose so much sleep, but they weren’t interested. She eventually prescribed me tablets for the dizziness, which of course didn’t help because the problem was a severe lack of sleep.

    I then visited my GP, after months of little or I sleep. Only to be told there was nothing they could do and offered to give me the address of Mind.

    Not one of these people seemed overly bothered about trying to help. Yet if I broke my leg, every one of them would have fixed it. It almost makes me think that I would be better off causing physical harm to myself because then they would have to help me in some way.

    The worst thing is, being passed around from pillar to post, taking up more of my free time, causing me to miss more work is all contributing to my problem. They are inadvertently making my problem worse, so much so that now I just try to “get on with it”.

    I think that’s what they want.

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