Via Letters From A Tory, MPs are complaining, through a cross-party committee, that they face discrimination and stigma if they make mental health problems known.
At least they will be able to get help. Meanwhile, those who aren't paid over sixty grand a year are stuck with the NHS. And thanks to chronic waste, mismanagement and general neglect, NHS mental health services are nothing short of a disgrace.
On reading the blog of Calum Carr*, one would hope that his experience in trying to obtain help for his mentally ill wife, only to meet with abuse, evasiveness from medics and politicians, and Byzantine bureaucracy, is unique. However, I seriously doubt that it is.
Dr Crippen described provision for the mentally ill in this country as "appalling" and psychiatric services in his area as "dreadful", with "unqualified amateurs who think psychiatry is a game". For their part, psychiatrists, as reported by the Times, report that:
The doctors say that patients with serious problems are often referred to psychologists and social workers rather than clinicians and do not receive the medical therapies they need.
So, no, Mr & Mrs Carr's predicament is far from unusual.
In hospital, the situation for the mentally ill isn't much better. A report by Dinesh Bhugra, the incoming president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, paints a damning picture of mental health-care in the NHS in 2008. In-patient acute psychiatric care is described by Bhugra as:
So poor...that he would not use them himself - nor allow a member of his family to do so.
Some wards are "frightening and dangerous places", perhaps not surprisingly when it is "standard practice for many wards to be run at up to 120% occupancy".
Mental health is chronically under-resourced and mismanaged. Why? Because mental health is a low priority. It isn't 'sexy' - It doesn't make for great press-releases or grab headlines; and it is difficult. Treatment of a patient with a complex mental disorder requires more than giving them the right drug so they'll get better. When a so-called health service is run for the benefit of politicians and managerialists rather than patients, it is inevitable that unglamorous areas such as this will become neglected. It's no surprise that, after 60 years, mental health in the NHS so often lives down to its oft-repeated description as a 'Cinderella service'.
MPs: If you really give a shit about people suffering from mental illness - and I don't mean 'stress' as a result of somebody finding out about your latest expenses scam or affair with your secretary - how about actually doing something to sort out the absolute fucking national disgrace that is NHS mental health
You may suffer embarrassment as a result of mental health problems being highlighted by the media or otherwise becoming public knowledge...but it'll be cold day in hell before any MP ends up on the mental health scrapheap that people like Mrs Carr are consigned to by the fucked up system that you have left to rot.
* The bloggers' campaign is at Mental Health 4 All.