Tackling the mental health crisis

Mental health services continue to be so overwhelmed by demand that people seeking help routinely face long waiting lists to access the treatment they need.

Mental health services continue to be so overwhelmed by demand that people seeking help routinely face long waiting lists to access the treatment they need.

Long waiting times, which can be up to a year in extreme cases, can allow illnesses to grow worse while they are left untreated and can make patients less likely to engage in longer-term treatments like therapy. Treatment for conditions like anxiety, depression and eating disorders can often be inadequate in a health system gutted of funding and facing a shortage of specialist nurses and psychiatrists.

The effects of the crisis are particularly sharp in Northern Ireland, which has a 25% higher overall prevalence of mental health problems than England, according to the Mental Health Foundation. The suicide rate here has soared and is the highest in the UK, with rates much higher than they were even during the Troubles.

There are no simple explanations for this, but one factor to consider is the higher levels of economic deprivation here in comparison to the rest of the UK (the link between poverty and mental health problems is well established). Suicide rates are particularly high in north and west Belfast, areas with some of the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the country.

The legacy of the Troubles is also a factor. Recent research by the University of Ulster found that the Troubles had a “very detrimental effect on the mental health and suicide behaviours of NI citizens”. The report talks about how trauma can have a significant impact on the children of those who directly experience it. It found that people with psychological problems who had experienced conflict were 15 times more likely to display suicidal behaviour.

May’s 2017 promise to “tackle the burning injustice of mental health and inadequate treatment” was ironic, considering her party has spent the last decade slashing NHS funding and privatising services. If we’re serious about tackling the mental health crisis, we need a fully-funded health service that gives people access to the care they need, when they need it.

Mental health is a global problem. The Lancet Commission estimates that if mental health were to be adequately addressed, 13.5 million lives could be saved every year. A capitalist system designed to protect the profiteering of a tiny number of people will never prioritize these lives.

by Ryan McNally

Previous Article

Fermanagh workers stand up to poverty pay

Next Article

Sudan: Counter-revolution raises its ugly head

Related Posts
Read More

The Brexit Saga continues: workers’ movement must act independently!

Now, with the end of the ‘transition period’ on 31st December looming, pressure is on for a trade deal between the UK and the EU. Johnson and the EU have set deadlines of 15th and 31st October respectively for a deal to be made if it is to be implemented by the end of the year. If no deal is reached and there is no agreement to extend the transition period, then a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be the consequence.

Read More

Flybe collapse: Nationalise the airline to save jobs and connectivity

On 5th March, Flybe - Europe’s largest regional airline - collapsed, with 2,400 workers suddenly losing their jobs. Workers and passengers were given virtually no warning. Flybe sent texts out at 2am, telling anyone booked on one of their flights not to travel to the airport. No alternative flights were arranged and many workers and passengers were left stranded, unable to get refunds.