A bit more politics today – well commentary on politics – the article the quote is taken from can be found at the link at the bottom of this post. But this is the comment I want to talk about today.
‘In her speech, May suggests that tackling stigma is more important than resources. I think this misses the point: under investment in mental health is itself a symptom of stigma at an institutional level. Of course, less stigma is a good in itself, especially if it enables more people to seek help. But if the help isn’t there because of a lack of parity, then the results are the same’
So yes, removing stigma is a great idea and part of this blog is to open up the discussion and freedom to allow people to speak about their mental health and well being. There are 2 points that I want to make – institutional stigma re mental health – the under investment point made above is valid and I have seen it here in Cumbria with the lack of understanding regarding the potential closure of Kentmere Ward here in Kendal . More worrying for me was to sit in a meeting to hear the new chair of the CCG supporting mental health. They stated that they would review the facilities based on the postcodes of the users and that the solution might be to have a state of the art facility in the centre of Cumbria. The reason we have facilities based in the 4 corners of Cumbria is because the centre is full of lakes and mountains! This basic lack of understanding of the area they are responsible for shows, to me, the extent of this idea of institutionalised stigma. There is an idea that one solution fits all, with no thought of local issues.
Secondly, a point I have made earlier. In an ideal world we work to remove the stigma, to encourage people to be open about their mental health. But, if that becomes a reality then by inference more people will be looking for support. However, if there is no extra money and resources are already stretched, and that is being polite, then where do they go? How will they get the help that they need. There is an assumption that the third sector and local charities such as Mind, SAFA and CADAS will be there to support people. But to support individuals with major issues requires employees with professional qualifications and a professional organisation – that requires us to seek funding from a broader more diverse base, this is a finite pool with an increasing demand.
To illustrate the point, we have seen at South Lakeland Mind a large increase in people in a state of serious distress calling the office for support. This includes people who are at the point of suicide – they do not phone the statutory services, they phone organisations such as the Samaritans and Mind. If you had cancer you would not expect your first point of call to be a charity.
I am proud of the work that the staff and volunteers do at Mind but somehow I think the mental health world is all a bit arse backwards.
Day 21 – 35 mins
2/3 of the way through the challenge. A glorious morning for a run, cold, crisp and clear. I allow myself 30/40 mins and head off with no clear direction in mind. Running on a day like this is a pleasure, the clear air invigorates and refreshes the mind and the body – I only run as far as yesterday but today it does feel like it has made a difference. I find myself at the Asda roundabout and consider where I will go next – I realise that I have never been down Helm Lodge so off I go. I stop at a hedgerow to take the daily picture then down the Natland Rd – the next decision point is at the college. I turn left up the hill and near the top, find a well trodden path that leads me on to Kirkbarrow via a childrens play area created by the Kirkbarrow Residents Association. I continue along the path past 2 old corrugated iron garages and make a mental note about coming back to photograph them. A noodle round Kirkbarrow then down Gillinggate and home.
Frost on a hedgerow