Today has been nominated as Time To Talk day by mental health campaigners Time To Change. The idea? Spark conversation and speak the words so many don’t want to hear. Words like I have a mental health issue. In my case chronic long term depression and borderline personality disorder. Words that, unlike the meds, aren’t easy to swallow. Words that condemn, spark gossip, fuel prejudice. Yep I’m the miserable one. But yep I’m the one who, when you finally get to talk to me, isn’t so bad, mad or difficult after all. Yep that’s me folks. And somedays I’m kinda proud of my state of mind. The cynic in me, I like her. She can protect, she can be realistic. But she can also be a bitch. Reading stuff into things that just ain’t there. Destroying confidence hours after achieving the wonderful. That endlessly nagging self doubt. Today might be good but tomorrow won’t. The highs and the lows. And so it goes on. But the idea behind Time To Talk is we bust down the walls built by ignorance and stigma. Close in on the misconceptions of mental health and embrace the differences within our friendships and families.
I salute the bravery of every soul speaking out today. I will always support campaigns such as Time To Change but the willingness of those living with mental health issues needs to be met by the services that are meant to protect them. Sitting on waiting lists for talking therapies so long that patients give up. Acknowledging self medication as a necessary evil because there just aren’t the networks in place to help. Finding the support you need post-assessment isn’t there due to a lack of resources. Living on prescriptions dolled out by GPs with only the basic of training in mental health. The ever growing number of mentally ill people taken to police cells rather than A&E. The words coming from Clegg and co regarding the state of NHS mental health services need to be backed up by funding, regardless of the state of the economy. Because its a false one to think that by not treating those coming forward with mental health issues the problem will just go away. Behind every depressive, every person living with bipolar, OCD, multiple personality disorder or anxiety is someone who can manage their lives successfully. Work. Engage. Be the person they really are. They just need support. Talking therapies alongside medication. And hope. We need hope.
Mental health is not a issue that can be sidelined. It affects 1 in 4 of us. It can ruin and it can take life. We can talk about it all we wish (and I’m glad we are) but until this country begins to talk seriously about, indeed demand, funding proper support, treatment, care and respect for those living with mental health issues things won’t change. (ATOS and IDS take note: assessing someone fit for work when they are clearly not solves nothing). The fact that the mental health services in the NHS are referred to as the pauper service is quite simply wrong. It needs to change. My state of mind shouldn’t be a life sentence. It should be a part of me that I manage and that gives me hope. It is time to talk. But without society, government and those allocating funding to NHS mental health services and charities changing the systems in place, all those brave enough to talk today will have been let down. Something we, they and I can’t afford. Its time to change.