Friday, 15 February 2013

Them And Us

I'm spitting tacks.  No, I tell a lie - if I could spit daggers I would.

MP's are to get their own mental health clinic at a cost, to the taxpayer, of £25,000.  I don't think for one minute that £25,000 will be the total sum involved but possibly one consultant's monthly fee.  Then, if treatment is necessary, our 'servants' will be fast tracked to the best there is available.

Regular readers will know that I have a particular interest in mental health and have closely followed the progress - or distinct lack if it - that governments have made throughout my lifetime.  Out of sight, out of mind has been the position of those who could have made a difference to the mental health services offered to those unfortunately enough to suffer from problems.

As a society we seem content with young children receiving very detailed sex education in schools, yet most of us are uncomfortable discussing mental health issues.

"Jimmy has been signed off with depression/anxiety," is met with, "Oh, that's a shame".  Nobody asks how severe Jimmy's symptoms are or if they can help, because many people don't understand - or don't want to understand - the results when physical and mental health become unbalanced.

In this country (and I speak from a UK perspective), mental health facilities and treatment vary from the sublime to the ridiculous.  The sublime of course is what stressed MPs have acquired for themselves.  The ridiculous is indescribable; poor diagnosis, poor treatment and worse still, no treatment at all. Such a pity they couldn't have strived for similar facilities for their own constituents, who possibly wait many months for an initial consultation and the same length of time for any required treatment to begin.

The excuse, stated in the article: 'discrimination over mental health makes it hard for them to talk to doctors in their constituencies' is what maddens me.  That they regard themselves in any way different to their constituents is appalling in itself, but the insult to the doctors shows a pompous misjudgement.  

Most of their constituents have no choice other than to talk to these doctors in the hope that they can help.  Many people, unlike MPs, are invisibly bullied into leaving their jobs if it's discovered they have mental health issues.  I've seen that several times: "We'll have to get rid of x because he/she's having a breakdown", was a comment I heard, directed at a personnel officer some years ago from a head of a large organisation.  Perhaps today these words wouldn't be used, but the actions would be taken.

Kevin Jones, Labour MP for North Durham said:

'This is not about preferential treatment. It’s about giving MPs the opportunity to find solutions here in Westminster and have access to the types of services available to their constituents.’

Does he know what types of services available to his own constituents?

Scotland doesn't fare too well where mental health services are concerned either. I have a friend (a retired PE teacher) who has had serious back problems for nearly two years.  She's finally attended the pain clinic after suffering for a year - after being told surgery wasn't an option - and has been told it will be a lengthy process before they can balance her medication.  She takes 32 pills daily, plus liquid morphine and some days she can't move off the floor.  From being a very active woman to what she calls a 'cripple' she has fought depression since this disability occurred. At times I've been exceptionally concerned and jumped into the car to visit her in the hope that I can elevate the feeling of hopelessness for a few minutes because I'm aware she's not just 'having a bad day', but ill. 

Her depression is caused by poor GP care, although she's changed recently, and constant intense pain.  Of course she's not alone and knows there must be thousands of others in worse situations, but that doesn't help lift her depression for long.  

Mental health can be a vicious circle.  Most people cause their own depression (as in my friend's case), although not many understand why.  Worrying about the hellish emotions depression can produce creates anxiety and the two emotions of despair and desperation to flee from the situation, can result in serious clinical illness. Such symptoms need immediate attention and MPs have now organised their own walk-in clinic.

I wouldn't be irate if the population were offered what MPs feel they themselves deserve, but this does show how detached our politicians are from their electorate and also how, whether consciously or unconsciously, they consider themselves deserving of better than they support for us, the hoi polloi.


Clarinda said...

There appears to be 55 consultant psychiatrist training opportunities in Scotland for 2013. This covers the entire range of psychiatric specialities. I cannot find the actual working consultant psychiatrist/patient ratio for Scotland.

I tried to find global doctor /patient ratios and this is one example

The UK seems to be worse off than many of our near EU and Scandanavian neighbours. This makes the apparent 'special' treatment for MPs (based on what peer reviewed evidence?)all the more selfish given the UK's less than comparable medical cover. I note that medical and nurse staffing numbers have slowly increased in Scotland - but we have some widely differing geographic and demographic areas to satisfy - and medics and nurses cannot be forced to specialise or move permanently in clincal care for which they have no specific interest or ambition.

There appears to be almost 3,500 consultant posts unfilled in the UK.

I note that Australia does rather well - but of course it attracts many of our expensively trained medics, nurses and other health care professionals.

I don't doubt for a second that mental health is a vital issue for all of us but perhaps if we spent more on actual health care staff posts to care for the whole population and less on the non-clinical politically motivated admin and management systems - so beloved by 'stressed' politicians - in so many health care areas we might all be better off.

Employers ought to take care of their employees but the Westminster employees of ours appear not to consult we employers in the first place?

JRB said...

Mental Health, like death and dying, has for far too long been a taboo subject that the majority would prefer to ignore. That is until they or someone close to them is affected. Only then is the truth and stigma surrounding the subject exposed.

No doubt MPs like every other sector of society can be subject to any one of a number of mental health problems, and that deserves the appropriate treatment.


For MPs to set themselves apart; or as you rightly say - ”That they regard themselves in any way different to their constituents is appalling”
It merely serves to highlight and emphasise their ‘them and us’ or ‘plebs and patricians’ attitude.

... and it's only going to cost just £25,000 – you wouldn’t get an office junior in central London for that sum – so who do they think they are kidding?

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

How do you quantify and qualify the health of your mind?

Lifestyle,values and nurture all come into the mix as does the values of self and whether or not that develops respect or depreciation. Chronic pain must be a major factor in the cause of self depreciation when you consider every day must be measured by degrees of negativity.

I have no idea how that can be measured or clinically rated but one factor which should never be limited is the removal of choice or the scope of treatments. From placebo to cutting edge science the options have to be offered and, subject to the individual concerned, explored. And that choice includes whether 'worth'is still a value in living.

As to the MPs -I would suggest, if they were more competent in doing the job they're supposed to do, they'd get more job satisfaction out of it and have less need for therapy.

Only a suggestion. Wouldn't want to see the green benches bare due to most of them being sectioned.

Apogee said...

You know, I'm wondering why this has been proposed, what is really behind it all.
As far as I can interpret it, seemly there is a noticeable need for this service,which then appears to cast doubt on the mental stability of some parliamentary representatives.If this is in fact the case, we need to know those involved so as to remove them from positions of power, for their good and ours. If none are so afflicted,
why is this necessary?

subrosa said...

I'm waiting for a reply to an email about ratios throughout the EU Clarinda, but you've found what I suspected - poor numbers here.

Great points too. Thanks.

subrosa said...

Of course it won't cost £25,000 JRB. If I'd been less kind I would have said that was just for the consulting room chairs.

subrosa said...

That's difficult to answer Crinkly but if people really know themselves, they can recognise when they're 'out of balance'.

I agree with your penultimate paragraph. An enjoyable job is one of the fundamental factors of good mental health. As well as good friends of course.

subrosa said...

It seems some are afflicted Apogee. Let's not forget Westminster is a club and they all stick together, although attempt to convince the public they're separate entities.

Stewart Cowan said...

S/R - I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on the fairly recent? draconian DoH regulations surrounding benzodiazepines.

I know people and have read about some who either don't get this vital (for some) medication at all or get it stopped suddenly and it messes up their whole lives.

Doctors say they are "addictive" and this appears to be their only defence for their seemingly sadistic attitude.

subrosa said...

Stewart could you email me your info about that and we'll discuss it then. Many thanks.

Related Posts with Thumbnails