‘Mental health needs a bigger slice of the NHS cake’

PUBLISHED: 18:28 10 July 2018

Hannah Brown from Langford has been speaking about NHS funding as the service marks 70 years. Picture: Hannah Brown

Hannah Brown from Langford has been speaking about NHS funding as the service marks 70 years. Picture: Hannah Brown

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Hannah Brown from Langford, who has battled anorexia and is now a mental health campaigner, talks NHS funding as the service marks 70 years

It is impossible not to celebrate our incredible NHS and all the staff who for the last 70 years have, day after day, cared for each of us at some point.

Regardless of the shortcomings and apparent failings that dominate our headlines, some of us – including myself – owe our lives to the hardworking and dedication of a few individuals.

A massive part of the NHS cake is the provision of mental health services, and unfortunately this is a piece that definitely scrimped on the jam.

This is a given fact, and Prime Minister Theresa May herself has said: “As the NHS has grown, mental health was not a service that was prioritised.”

The rest of the cake got icing and even candles, but for some reason the same care, attention and of course resource was not afforded to the mental health services.

Of course the NHS has come an incredibly long way since the days of asylums and the incarceration of unwell individuals – and thankfully so.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that, on average, people with mental health issues have a reduced life expectancy of between 10 and 20 years.

Despite the £20 billion cash boost so kindly afforded to the cash-strapped NHS, mental health services are still not truly part of that comprehensive healthcare provision and, as such, is unlikely to get much more than a mere nibble.

As I eluded to, however, the NHS did save my life. When my battle with anorexia became too overwhelming and dangerous, I was able to receive the inpatient care that was my lifeline.

Regardless of my opinion on that care, it halted anorexia in its tracks. The problem came when I reached a body mass index (BMI) that meant the resources ran out, that the funding wasn’t going to stretch any further.

In 10 years’ time we will be celebrating once again, and hopefully with this promised funding on its way an even bigger cake will be served.

But with a bigger cake must come a bigger slice for mental health, with plenty of jam and icing too. It must be comprehensive enough to cover all areas of wellbeing, including – most crucially – mental health.

• Hannah runs her own peer support group for those suffering with eating disorders. Visit aneartohear.co.uk to find out more.

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