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.