We Need Change

by Bryan Woods

Traffic sign - Turning point

Bryan Woods tells, from his own experience, about the desperate need for change in attitudes towards and treatment of people who live with mental health challenges.

It is the start of a New Year as I write this. But is it a year when substantial improvements will be made to our Mental Health system? Sadly the answer is likely to be no.

However, we should not just give up and accept things as they are. Writing from my experience of being a patient on Mental Health wards, I would like to see the following changes made to the system.

For decades Mental Health has been treated as the Cinderella of the NHS. Surely the time has come for it to be put on a level footing with Physical Health. After all both are just as important to our complete well-being.

There should be more early intervention when people are experiencing a mental health crisis. I believe this would vastly improve the eventual outcome of such an emergency. More trained professionals should be available. For far too long police officers have been expected to deal with this. It is a role for which they are not properly trained.

Facilities should also be available for people who are suffering from a mental health crisis. Several Mental Health hubs have opened recently in London. I think that similar hubs should be rolled out across the country. Spending long periods in Accident and Emergency or a police cell can only intensify a mental health crisis.

We must stop the practice of putting people on Mental Health wards that are hundreds of miles away from their home community. This deprives them of regular contact with family and friends. It therefore increases their sense of isolation.

There should be proper care after discharge from a Mental Health ward. People often struggle with day-to-day living. If they live alone there is also the added challenge of loneliness. Hammersley Homes has taken the lead in providing help to people through it’s telephone support and Outreach Service.

I believe there should be a recognition that people are not just statistics. They are human beings who have mental health issues. They need and deserve our help.