Despite its theoretic appeal the Cliché-‘one in four get a mental health illness’s yet to translate to reality. Who is the one that’s affected, could that be you, me, one of your family member or a friend, the answer is anyone may be affected. If mental illness is so common then why is there so much discrimation against mentalillness? Discrimination may take many forms; let’s take some examples from recent portrayals in Media.
To jump or not to Jump:
Few days ago when I was driving through M25 listening to my radio ,I was Intrigued to hear about the M42 incident where a man was trying to take his life by jumping off the bridge and finally was rescued by the Police and detained in hospital safely. what intrigued me about this incident was though majority of public were empathic there were some cold tweets by some people asking the man to jump fast, there would not have been such backlash if everyone realise that this man is some one else brother or father or son and they share the same sentiments about their loved ones as us.
The ongoing tug of war with Thorpe park defying to rename it’s offensive “Asylum attraction’ (where customers are chased by ‘patients’) despite a petition backed by many signatories. We all are very much aware that mental health patients are not scary; they are a vulnerable lot-studies show that people with mental illness are five times more likely to be assaulted than average and more than 50 times more likely to kill themselves than someone else.
Parity of esteem:
In essence, ‘parity of esteem’ is best described as: ‘Valuing mental health equally with physical health’.(Rcpsych report on Parity of esteem).Imagine you hurt your leg sustaining injury tomorrow, what would you do, go to A and E or GP and get it treated in hours, it’s as simple as that. But is that the same case if we have a mental distress, how many of us are brave enough to admit we are depressed and get the appropriate care, even if we take that extra mile to visit the doctor how many of us get the quality of care we deserve due tounderfunding of mental health teams. People with mental illness have 10 years less of life expectancy because of their poor physical health.
Bed cuts in Psychiatry:
I recently read in a paper that between 2011 and 2012,we lost at least 1,711 psychiatric beds. That's roughly 80 individual wards, or 9% of our beds. Not sure what are the figures with general medical and surgical bed by I don`t that will be this much. The basic truth is mental health is equally important as physical health and no health without any mental health.
I recently read an article in a newspaper about over prescription of antidepressant medications by doctors, we do come across many articles pertaining to weather we are over medicallinsing normal emotions and labeling patients with diagnosis. How can psychiatric diagnosis be a label, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia is a diagnosis same as diabetes or hypertension and not a label. While we agree that there are psychological therapies for mild and moderate form of depression, severe form of depression do need antidepressant and effectiveness of antidepressants are same as physical health medications.
The way forward:
Royal college of Psychiatrists has taken a number of initiatives to tackle the stigma and discrimination. The time to change initiative is one of the many examples. Also it`s producing various leaflets to create awareness among general public. What steps could we take ,each one of us should make it our top most priority to give the highest quality of care to each and every patient we treat. If we come across any deficiencies in care we should make it heard by appropriate professional agencies and do our level best to make sure our mental health patients receive the care they deserve-we need to be mindful that one in four could be our family member or friend.
People with mental illness are at increased risk of heart disease stroke and liver disease due to various reasons like lifestyle and side effects of medications. As junior doctors we are the future of NHS and health care andwe must act to ensure mental health is on par with physical health. If we tackle physical health of people with mental health problems we not only enhance their quality of life but also cost to NHS as said by Dr Martin Mcshane.