*Trigger warning – Talks of self harm and A&E admittance

It’s World Mental Health Day and yet again, there’s a theme. This year’s theme is kindness. Now, although I think that being kind is definitely something we need to do, it’s not the way to fix what’s already broken.

Research by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that:

  • Two fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatment contact emergency or crisis services, with one-in-nine (11%) ending up in A&E
  • Nearly two thirds (64%) wait more than four weeks between their initial assessment and second appointment.
  • One in four (23%) wait more than three months
  • One-in-nine (11%) wait longer than six months
  • Two-fifths (38%) reported that they, or someone on their behalf, had contacted emergency or crisis services while waiting for their second appointment, while 39% said that waiting led to a decline in their mental health (Source)

Two fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatment contact emergency or crisis services, with one-in-nine (11%) ending up in A&E

Last year, my partner caught me self harming and bawling my eyes out in the bathroom that I didn’t want to live in my head anymore. I couldn’t deal with the extreme moods, one day feeling amazing, the next at rock-bottom. My partner rang the local mental health team only to be told that they couldn’t do anything and that whatever I was going through ‘would pass’. I do believe they looked at my borderline (BPD) diagnosis and thought I was attention-seeking, something that happens with people like me.

He decided to go against their ‘advice’ and both he and my mum took me to A&E outside of my area to get support. The nurses were amazing but were limited in the help they could provide because I didn’t live locally. They rang my local hospital and asked if they could send me over as an inpatient. The response? My local hospital said the mental health team don’t work 24 hours and the psych ward wasn’t open either. So they sent me home. Under the care of my partner and my mum who were not equipped at that time to deal with me. The pressure on them was enormous.

Kindness was provided to me at the out-of-area hospital and it was great but ultimately, it didn’t solve the problem.

Nearly two thirds (64%) wait more than four weeks between their initial assessment and second appointment.

I contacted my GP during lockdown because my moods were getting more and more extreme. He made a referral to the primary care mental health team, who deal with conditions like anxiety and depression and provide counselling. The first time I was referred, I was assessed then nothing. Tumble weed for three weeks until I chased them and they said I wasn’t in danger so they couldn’t help. I asked if they could provide guidance, they said no. So, being in a high mood, I wasn’t taking that shit. My GP agreed that their dealing with me was poor so she referred me back. They begrudgingly referred me for counselling. Four weeks later, I had a call.

Kindness has most definitely been provided to me by my GP and my counsellor who are absolutely amazing and are fighting my corner with me. However, they are frustrated because the mental health support system is inadequate at best.

Kindness won’t:

  • Fix overstretched services
  • Fix the really long waiting times
  • Fix the stigma surrounding many mental health conditions
  • Show a true picture of what mental health support is really like
  • Fund the services that are so badly needed

However, I’m not completely soul-less. Since lockdown started in March, there has been an overwhelming level of kindness being shown by communities across the world and it really is heart-warming. Seeing stories on the news about people doing incredible things really has shown human beings in such a good light, despite all the evil happening in the world. Although kindness won’t fix what’s wrong with mental health care, it will:

  • Cheer someone up who’s having a bad time
  • Encourage conversations around mental health
  • Make those struggling feel that it’s OK not to be OK
  • Make the nation think about mental health and they way they think/approach it

I’m all for raising awareness surrounding mental health and actively do this without a second thought. But more needs to be done to fix what has been broken for so long.