Many people are clearly still very angry at, what they perceive to be, Liberal Democrats waving through Conservative plans to fragment and privatise the NHS – despite it not being in the Coalition Agreement – and believe that, within that, mental health treatment in the NHS will inevitably suffer.
I do not think that anybody who reads these pages will believe that the party can regain every vote which we have lost because of the NHS Bill.
I can only speak from personal experience and for me there have been two clear problems during my own course of treatment for anxiety and depression which I think need to be addressed urgently.
When I first went to my GP in July I immediately got the impression that he was doing things ‘by the book’ and did not have a real interest in listening to what my problems were or how best to help me. A friend of mine has told me that he has known people who have gone to the doctors suffering from anxiety and depression who feel that they have had anti-depressants ‘thrown at them’ – without a willingness to discuss a more detailed course of treatment. I am not for a moment saying that all doctors are like this, but this has been my personal experience and it is why I have decided to switch to a different GP.
The second problem has been the amount of time which it took between being referred to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course and actually starting on the course. For me, four months was too long to be struggling on my own and it was only the help of friends and colleagues which made this bearable. I am fully aware that for people who are more ill than I am and who do not have access to any support, such a period of time would prove to be far too long.
I hope that these are two problems regarding provision of mental health care in the NHS which will be improved by giving mental health parity of esteem with physical health in the NHS mandate.
The treatment which I have received has so far been incredibly helpful – providing lots of helpful tasks and activities which can help deal with mental illness – and all of my friends have been incredibly supportive and have offered to help in any way they can (especially one who spent the first six months of 2012 in a coma, attached to a life support machine!).
I truly believe that such support and understanding is a direct result of the growing understanding regarding mental health and the effects it can have on people from all walks of life. I hope that putting mental health on the same level as physical health within the NHS mandate will continue to improve the access people have to mental health treatments in the future.
* Tim Purkiss is a party member from Somerset and blogs at Nation Discussion