When I asked for guest bloggers for Paul’s Letters the first response I got was from Lauren Green, a London based blogger and author of Lauren Says It All. Lauren shared with me a bit about her own struggle with mental health issues and some of her advocacy efforts. I’m so glad she got in touch and I’m happy to have her thoughts here. – Paul
I would like to talk about a subject that is very personal to me. And that is mental health. I couldn’t count the amount of times, I have been depressed, anxious or paranoid, and others have told me to just ‘change my way of thinking’ or ‘snap out of it’ I don’t wish to share my diagnosis and my story at the moment; but I have been involved with mental health professionals for several years. And if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I ever would have seen a light at the end of the tunnel.
Mental illness is so overlooked. And that really upsets me. If someone had a broken arm or a physical illness, then they receive sympathy, and because it is physically visible people notice. Mental illness is not always visible. People can’t always see what’s going on behind the exterior we put on. We’re not asking for sympathy, just for understanding and support. Imagine if someone had cancer and somebody said to them ‘it’s just cancer, stop thinking like that and you’ll be fine’ it just wouldn’t happen. So many people that have a mental illness are not believed, and are made out to be an ‘attention seeker’ and are made to feel that we are making it up and that we actually want to feel this way. This is so far from the truth. We don’t want to feel like this! It makes getting through each day so difficult, and without support and understanding it is impossible. We shouldn’t be made to feel like we can just change instantly. It is hard enough accepting the fact that we are not like everybody else and can’t think the same way, let alone with people putting us down even more and just laughing at us. It’s not fair. Society needs to change the way it views mental illnesses and stop ignoring it.
I was recently contacted and asked to sign a petition regarding stopping cuts to mental health services. This is the email I wrote to them:
As a member of the public with an interest in the provision of mental health services, I am writing in response to the current consultation on the National Tariff Payment System 2015/16.
I would like to express my strong objection to the way the prices for mental health services next year have been calculated. Your consultation document says ‘We are setting a single efficiency factor for 2015/16 of 3.8%… based on data from acute providers, which suggested that this level of efficiency is achievable for the sector as a whole.’ (section 2.2.1, page p.83).
This means that crucial funding decisions about mental health services are being made without the right information. It is impossible to accurately assess the impact of these cuts from assumptions based on hospitals and other services. I believe these flawed methods will have a damaging affect on my local mental health services.
I am working full time and am currently seeing mental health professionals. I am trying my best to cope with daily life and am only doing this with the help of a mental health team. Making cuts would leave me back at square one.
These proposals are not fair and I would ask you to stop and reconsider your calculations. Mental health services are already struggling compared to other services and need significant investment, not blanket cuts. That is how we will achieve a truly fair system for mental health services.
This email was also sent to Lara Carmona. The associate director of Rethink Campaigns. This is the response I got.
Thank you so much for joining the fight against funding cuts. We will be in touch about the outcomes of the consultation in the new year.
In the mean time, we still need your help to make sure our voices are heard. Please forward this campaign to anyone you think might have something to say. There is a template email below that you can simply forward to your friends.
With many thanks,
Associate Director – Campaigns, Policy and Innovation
As you can imagine I have shared this endlessly. I just want to make you all aware about mental health issues. And hope this article has opened your eyes to the reality of these issues. (Originally published 12/20/2014)
I previously wrote a post about ‘Rethink Campaign’ and how I participated with many others by writing a letter to Monitor (the watchdog for health funding) to try and stop it’s plan to cut funds for mental health. I received a thank you letter from Lara Carmona, and today received another letter which states this:
Thank you once again for taking part in our Monitor this! campaign. We have great news!
Your action has helped bring Monitor to the table! You were one of 6,700 amazing people who e-mailed Monitor about funding plans, and they were blown away by your response to their consultation. They have now asked to meet with us next Monday to specifically discuss what you shared. We will repeat again what you have already said: our mental health services have been unfairly underfunded for years and it is time to turn that around. Of course we’ll keep you updated about their final decision – we’re expecting that to be published in the next few weeks – and in the meantime we’ll keep up the pressure up on your behalf.
On that note, our next wave of campaigning will soon kick off, to make sure those in charge of mental health spending make the right decisions and increase funding. Again, success depends on even more people taking action, so I hope you’ll take part and spread the word. I’ll be in touch soon to let you know how you can get involved.
Meanwhile, well done on being part of an unprecedented success so far!
With many thanks,
Associate Director – Campaigns & Policy
This is such good news, and I am happy our voices have finally been heard. I am so passionate about this topic because I have been in the situation where I have needed help, and without funding for mental health services, I wouldn’t have had that help and I wouldn’t be where I am today. There are so many people out there that are suffering with a mental illness, and they are just not getting that help. Either they are too afraid to ask for it, or they have gone out and tried to get help but have been ignored. It breaks my heart as I wish I could help others like myself and let them know that they are not alone. If we all come together and raise our opinions then one day we will be taken seriously and funding for mental health will not be taken as a joke, and people will get the help they need. (Originally published 1/11/2015)
Many thanks to Lauren, and, if you’d like to guest blog here at Paul’s Letters shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org