“If you broke your arm/leg you would get it fixed and take painkillers.” I have heard this line about three times from two different GPs since being diagnosed with depression and anxiety last summer.
It seems to be the standard line in mental health. People use it to assure patients that their mental health is just as serious as any physical ailment. I don’t think health professionals need to say this to people. Being happy in the mind is part of being healthy. We know that mental health is just as important as physical health. That is why people visit their GPs.
I think that health professionals need to recognise that the person sitting in front of them is an individual. Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. And unlike breaking your arm, which can be fixed and treated, the brain is one of the most complex organs in the body. You can’t x-ray it, put it in a cast and refer for physio.
For me the most important thing is being listened to and having my personal views respected. It would help for me to sit down with someone and create an action plan, with small and achievable steps. Also, I think people should have an assessment for what impact stress may be having on their mental health. That way they could make sure the treatments offered won’t add stress into their lives.
I have had CBT twice via the Healthy Minds service. I think the service is very good as it’s easily accessible, and it has helped me, but I found it very hard to fit telephone calls and going through an online programme in a set time (6 weeks/6 sessions). Sometimes it added to my stress. With depression, some weeks I am okay, and some weeks I really struggle.
To improve mental health support in Bucks I think services need to be less rigid and respond to what the patient needs at the time. I would also like to see support taking a more holistic approach. Health services should also be signposting to voluntary and community services that support with improving mental health, these services also need better funding.
And most importantly – the people running mental health services need to listen to people in Buckinghamshire. They need to ask us what they can do to improve services so that we can access the support we need.
Can you relate to Katie’s experience? Let us know in the comments.