David Cameron and Theresa May have said all the right things about improving the nation’s mental health. Yet people aren’t getting the help they badly need.
What is it about the mental health debate that makes me go all Malcolm Tucker, effing and blinding at the gap between what politicians say about it and the reality on the ground? And why do I want everyone else to get as angry as I am about it? Because every time there is pressure on health spending, mental illness slips down the priority queue.
We are frankly light years away from the parity between mental and physical healthcare that is set out – in law – in the NHS constitution. In the last week, I have spoken to a mother at her wits’ end because her daughter is being treated in Scotland when she lives 80 miles south of the border; a young man I persuaded to get help for his anxiety and depression who has been given some pills and told he might get cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in six months; a student who has dropped out of education after two failed suicide attempts, one of which followed a long wait in a crowded room waiting to see an overstretched university psychiatrist.
I recently got a letter from someone who said that my urging people to be open in a radio interview had led him to seek help for what he worried was a drink problem. But when he got to his GP he was told the alcohol support service had been cut and was instead given a list of local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It makes you wonder what is the point of fighting to change attitudes if the services are not there to help people who, despite all the stigma and taboo, make that first step to be open about a mental health problem.
There are of course many people who do get good treatment. But my worry is that the battle against stigma is seen as a substitute for the services we need, rather than an accompanying policy goal, and a genuine government priority.
So for all Theresa May’s fine words, and David Cameron’s before her, they have presided over 8% cuts in real spending on mental health, the loss of more than 6,000 mental health nurses and a fall to a lower per-capita number of psychiatric beds than France, Germany or the OECD average.
According to findings from mental health research charity MQ, more than four out of 10 people believe that mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are now an inevitable part of life. Even with more prevalent physical illnesses we don’t have the same expectation, because we just don’t think about mental health in the same way. That has consequences for care, and the pressures politicians feel to provide it.
Sadly, young people seem to be hardest hit; only one in four young people referred to a professional actually gets the treatment they need. When you consider that 75% of mental illness starts before the age of 18, that’s a lot of young people surrounded by their own concerns and the inabilities of others to help them. Yet where is the anger? Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in Britain – replace “suicide” with any physical illness or any other aspect of our national life, and you would have outrage aplenty. Walk past all those people living on the streets, as we all do, and imagine they were lying there untreated, not with a psychiatric illness but a broken leg or a heart attack – we would have an ambulance there in no time.
The demand for parity must include research. To make progress, we need research that focuses on mental illness in young people. You only need to consider the progress in HIV treatment over the past 20 years to see that research is a huge part of the answer.
May is right that mental health care is not all about the money. But a lot of it is. For every person affected in the UK we spend just £8 on research. For dementia – £110. For cancer – £178. Good for cancer. The impacts of mental health problems can last a lifetime. If we were funding mental health research like we have other physical illnesses, things would look very different.
If you bump into May or Jeremy Hunt, point out that by not investing in care, by not investing in research, by not taking seriously the growing mental health needs of younger people in particular, we are storing up much bigger problems – and costs – for the future. That much, surely, is so obvious, it’s unbelievable we even have to say it.
Malcolm Tucker coined the phrase “not my fucking problem”. This is our problem, because we all have mental health and we need to do a better job of getting the services, understanding and research we need.
Ongoing NHS crisis and economic recovery may have triggered rise, but impeding Brexit means future is uncertain.
The LaingBuisson data suggest private hospitals such as Bupa Cromwell Hospital in Kensington have profited from rising private cover demand. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
The number of people in Britain taking out private medical insurance has risen significantly for the first time since 2008, amid fears about the ongoing crisis gripping the NHS.
After falling steeply between 2008 and 2011 and then staying flat, demand for private medical insurance cover in Britain rose by 2.1% in 2015 with just over 4 million people insured.
The figures, compiled by healthcare consultancy LaingBuisson, account for the period until the end of 2015. Figures for 2016 are not yet available.
Philip Blackburn, an economist at LaingBuisson, said: “There has been a clear rise in interest in private healthcare recently as more and more people are dissatisfied with higher waiting on the NHS and increased restrictions on NHS treatment. Private medical cover will benefit from this, and there is a wide choice of policy options at different prices to attract customers.”
The rise in sales of private medical insurance (PMI) comes despite increases in insurance premium tax (IPT) during the period from 6% to 9.5%, which has made policies more expensive. But the private medical industry is still far below its peak in 2008, when 4.35 million people – 12.4% of the UK population – had private cover. After the rise in 2015, a total of 4,022,000 people have cover, or 10.6% of the population.
All of the rise in private cover is coming through company schemes, where the number of employees with medical insurance rose by 3.4% to 3,070,000 people, or 76.3% of the total. This suggests that the increased popularity of PMI may be down to a recovery in the economy and companies taking more staff, rather than fears about the state of the NHS.
The number of individual subscribers to private medical insurance continued to decline, dropping by 1.7% to 952,000.
Most are put off by the rising cost of buying cover independently. A typical PMI policy for a healthy 35-year-old costs about £650 a year, but this rises steeply to £2,300 for those aged 70, when claims are far more likely.
But the LaingBuisson data suggests that the companies and private hospitals selling cover are enjoying bumper profit margins. Companies and individuals spent £4.7bn on private medical insurance in 2015, but the total value of claims was £3.6bn, leaving the providers with a gross profit of £1.1bn.
LaingBuisson estimated that the total gross profit margin for PMI providers rose from 25.9% in 2014 to 26.7% in 2015. But it added that further tax rises and Brexit may make 2017 a tough year for the industry.
“A sharp increase in IPT from 6% to 9.5% effective from November 2015, and further rise to 10% from November 2016 has loaded significant additional cost for all medical insurance customers. A further hike to 12% in June 2017 will tighten this ‘taxation straitjacket’, and in an industry where affordability has been identified as the primary reason for a lack of growth in demand, this hefty additional burden is likely to mean demand for PMI is vulnerable going forward,” said Blackburn, adding that “the medical cover sector faces further uncertainty from the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.”
THERESA May has been accused of neglecting Britain’s troops and failing to provide adequate mental health support as figures reveal that 80 veterans sought help for depression-related issues over the last week alone.
He said: “A litmus test for the Government’s commitment to mental health is how we treat our troops. This data shows we’re betraying them.
“The toll on our troops does not end as they leave the battlefield.”
Melanie Waters, from Help for Heroes called on ministers to explain the dramatic rise in stressed soldiers as it was revealed that over the past week, 80 veterans have sought medical help over anger, anxiety and depression issues.
The news on rising mental health issues amongst our forces comes weeks after an MoD reports confirmed 10 infantry battalions of soldiers required medical treatment for drinking too much alcohol.
by S.D. Wells
Do not talk about whether vaccines work or not, or whether or not they cause autism, unless you’re ready for a very heated debate. Although the link between vaccines and autism is nothing new, to even speak of it can get you labeled as an “anti-vaxxer” or a health fanatic of sorts by the sheeple (brainwashed masses) that believe every vaccine the CDC recommends not only works, but is 100% safe and 100% effective 100% of the time. Even if some vaccines work some of the time, are they worth the health risk? That is the ultimate question, because one statistic you may not know is that children who receive mercury-containing vaccinations (listed as thimerosal usually) are 27 times more likely to develop autism than those who don’t get those jabs. That comes from a recent study based on the CDC’s own data. Still want to keep it a hush-hush topic?
Pediatricians in America are not allowed to question vaccines at all, nor are they allowed to recommend less than the CDC recommends, or they face the wrath of the AMA – the infamous American Medical Association – that finds a way to shut down the “contenders,” sometimes even taking away their license to practice medicine. Big question: would the statistics of autism suddenly bottom out if mercury was removed from all vaccines, including flu shots? (By the way, the CDC lied when they said mercury has been removed from all vaccines).
Nary is a case of autism in the Amish communities of America
For starters, children are not born with autism. It appears during infancy or childhood, and is brought on by an overload of neurotoxins either consumed, injected or ingested from environmental factors, or all of the above. In fact, the recent autism spectrum disorder (ASD) spike over the past two decades in the USA directly coincides with the vaccine schedule increase, by quantity and frequency, enforced by the CDC. To understand why autism is next to non-existent for the Amish, consider that the Amish have been “cut off” from American scientific and medical “progress” for centuries, thus they’ve had less exposure to the major factors that trigger autism, including the most likely proponent–vaccines.
Take a little trip to the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country and try to tag yourself even half a dozen Amish children with autism and you’ll come up short. If statistics matched our national average, there would be about 200 in the Amish community, but to date, there are only three, one of which was adopted and brought over from China. Go figure. Another one actually did get vaccinated and developed autism shortly afterwards. Go figure again.
Here are some universal and national statistics to consider. Autism affects over 20 million people around the world, and occurs in boys four to five times more often than girls. In the US, one in every 68 children has some form of ASD, a 30% increase from just 2012. Why is that, you’re asking yourself? United States kids get 50 inoculations before age seven, many that are combinations containing multiple disease strains, mercury, formaldehyde (yes, embalming fluid for the dead), monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aluminum, just to name a few neurotoxins. Flu shots contain the highest levels of mercury, up to 25,000 times what the EPA allows as a maximum in drinking water and edible fish. Mercury is the second most poisonous element know to mankind.
Due to religious beliefs, the Amish opt out of all vaccines
Fortunately for the Amish, they’re also opting out of three of the most controversial vaccines on the market today: hepatitis B, HPV (human papillomavirus) and of course, the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella combo) that was implicated in the CDC vaccine-autism-link and biggest medical cover-up in history, ever. Conflicting with CDC claims, the multi-dose version of hepatitis B still contains thimerosal (50% mercury). The immature central nervous systems and the liver of Amish newborns are spared this volatile toxin thanks to their parent’s religious beliefs. Amish children experience hardly any learning disabilities at all, in fact. Nor are the Amish experiencing typical US diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This could all be because they don’t eat GMO, take chemical pharmaceuticals, or vaccines. Surely, no government run regulatory agency will ever run this comparison of Amish health vs. non-Amish health, but the reality speaks for itself.
Still, the CDC refuses to regulate the vaccine industry and instead literally promotes toxic chemicals, dangerous heavy metal toxins, carcinogens and lethal “preservatives” like mercury. It’s all about lifestyle and natural health these days, if you really want immunity that doesn’t come with a boatload of permanent and debilitating “side effects,” like autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome or liver cancer.
Courses improve survival by a fifth if taken up within five weeks, giving patients advice on healthy diets and exercise in a bid to prevent further health issues.
HUNDREDS of heart patients are dying each year after missing out on crucial NHS rehab, experts claim.
Medics say the courses improve survival by a fifth if taken up within five weeks.
Those taking part are given advice on healthy diets and exercise in a bid to prevent further heart attacks.
But half of the 132,000 eligible Brits fail to do any rehab.
Experts warn thousands are simply not offered a place or choose not to take part.
They claim 720 are needlessly losing their lives each year as a result.
The NHS must do better to boost recovery warns the British Heart Foundation.
It said even when patients do attend classes, seven in 10 rehab programmes are inadequate.
Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: “This research shows the worrying extent to which cardiac rehabilitation services are failing heart patients across the UK, putting them at increased risk of having another potentially fatal heart attack.
“These services are paramount in a patients’ physical and mental recovery and the programmes which are meeting recommendations help save lives.
“Services across the UK need to ensure that at the very least, they are meeting the basic, minimum national standards of care that every heart attack patient should expect to receive.” The study, published in the journal Open Heart, assessed 170 programmes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It found that just 52 were good enough.