Portfolio of Hope

close up photo of pink piggy bank

Unfortunately, we are seeing rates of mental illness on the increase worldwide- a rise of 13% in the last decade (World Health Organisation), with over 700,000 people committing suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds…

To focus on the UK specifically, as that is where I am writing from, a massive 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, and 1 in 5 people will have suicidal thoughts (Mind). Perhaps even more shockingly, 1 in 15 people will attempt suicide (NHS Digital), thus contributing to the 115 people who die by suicide in the UK every week…

Despite the extremely high prevalence of mental health conditions effecting people all around the world, the global median of government health expenditure that goes to mental health sits at less than 2%. Demand is therefore majorly outstripping supply, with the waiting times for treatment being extremely concerning.

Again, to focus on England in particular, studies show that approximately only 1 in 3 adults with a mental health problem are currently getting treatment. For the ‘privileged few’ who are in receipt of treatment (not that treatment should be reserved solely for the ‘privileged few’, obviously, it should be for EVERYONE but, I digress), they will most likely have had to wait 12 weeks (at the very least) to start treatment, as a study conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists highlights… The study also highlights the impact that such excessive waiting times have on outcomes- 43% of people surveyed say waiting lead to their mental health difficulties getting worse. Now, there is of course another option- paying to go private- but, that really is for the privileged few. An inpatient stay (residential treatment), is, often, upwards of £1000 per week. As someone who received inpatient treatment myself back in 2018, if I had to pay private, I’d have been set back around £30,000 (for a 7 month admission). That would be pretty much all of my savings gone. I was fortunate (although, I didn’t feel very ‘fortunate’ at the time!) to have an NHS funded bed. But, for people who are put on an extremely long waiting list and need urgent treatment, but who can’t afford to go private, they are, ultimately, left with their lives in the balance, their reliance on the NHS to provide timely and effective care, quite literally, putting their lives at risk. What’s more, the 12 week waiting time for treatment is at the very lower end of how long people are waiting to receive support- waiting times can in fact go on for longer than six months (in 12% of cases), or even, for more than a year (in 6% of cases).

In terms of why the waiting times are so long, it can largely be blamed on an insufficient mental health workforce, particularly when it comes to psychiatrists. To highlight just how dire a situation we are in with regards to this, there is currently just one consultant psychiatrist per 12,567 people in England (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2021). Shocking. It’s no wonder then that waiting times are at an all time high… Psychiatrists are simply swamped with work, a ridiculously intense workload putting even them at risk of becoming ‘burnt out’ and mentally ill! What happens when all the psychiatrists need psychiatrists?! Then we will be in (even more) trouble!! Worrying times for everyone, another example of the shocking state of our country, ‘Great’ Britain (lol). If you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

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