Breaking The Cycle

by Bryan Woods

Image courtesy Dollar Gill

One of the worst aspects of mental ill-health is the loneliness it can bring. When I was severely depressed I simply withdrew from society. It was my instinct to isolate.

I still do this to some extent today. However, my depressive episodes are thankfully now much less common. I have also learnt to cope with them by using different and better strategies.

The problem with isolation is that it exacerbates depression and other types of mental illness. The people who are closest to us often cannot help either. They do not understand what we are going through. I often felt that I was in a cycle of depression and loneliness. This fed off of itself.

When I was still under the care of my local Community Mental Health Team, I received some home visits. These were usually after I had been discharged from a mental health ward. My visits to these were so frequent that I was known as a ‘ revolving door ‘ case.

These home visits were welcome. However, they only lasted for about 20 minutes. They were also often with different people. This made it difficult to establish a rapport with another person.

So how do we break the cycle of mental illness and isolation ? I would like to see the following improvements made to the Mental Health system.

1. More funding for NHS Mental Health services – particularly home visits. And proper support for people who are living with mental illness.

2. A more consistent approach to mental health treatment on a one- to-one basis. Treating people in their own homes is often more effective than keeping them in hospital.

3. Early intervention when people are having a mental health crisis. This would help to keep people out of hospital in the first place. At the very least, it might lessen the length of their stay in hospital.

4. More emphasis to be put on helping people with day-to-day living, and the problems this can bring. Speaking from experience, I know that these can sometimes seem overwhelming.

Of course, any wish list like this would be very difficult to implement in the current financial crisis. NHS Mental Health services are buckling under the strain at the moment. But this does not mean that we should give up. We must still lobby the government for change.

In the meantime, charities such as Hammersley Homes are needed now more than ever before. Through it’s Outreach Service and home visits, it provides the support that people need when they are living with mental illness. This is vital if we are to break that vicious cycle of mental illness and isolation.