I'm Expensive and I'm Worth It: Why We Need to Invest in Mental Health Services

I am expensive. For the last five years I have had acute mental health problems and I've cost the NHS a lot of money.

On my behalf, the taxpayer has forked out for: many GP appointments; years of daily medication; weeks of in-patient treatment; several A&E visits; three years of psychological therapy (an unusually generous offering); four emergency service call outs; home visits; a year's worth of support from a social worker; six weeks of intensive out-patient treatment; about six months of sick pay (I work in the public sector).

But, like a terrible shampoo advert, I'm worth it.

From a purely economic perspective, I believe that I will 'pay back' what I have 'taken'. Because of the support that I have received, I am able to financially contribute again. I work in the public sector, I pay tax. I can afford to rent privately, so I'm not reliant on social housing. My therapy has enabled me to make real change, so I am far less reliant on mental health services that I used to be. I no longer need the support of a social worker. I am stepping down my medication. I fully believe that, over the next 30 years, the taxpayers' investment in me will pay off.

And, actually, even if it didn't make financial sense, I'm still worth it. Because I'm a person, and my life is as important as anyone else's. Because we should look after vulnerable people, even if it means making personal sacrifices, because it's the right thing to do.

I am now deeply, deeply concerned. I consider my story to be a success story. One where the NHS largely stepped up to the plate and served me well, and where the state has done it's job. I'm one of the relatively few lucky ones. I have been incredibly lucky to have had the support of a wonderful social worker, and a therapist who has helped me to turn my life around. The allocation of therapy that I have received has been far, far beyond what is typical, and without it I would not be functioning anywhere near as well as I am now. I would go as far as to say that, without it, I might not even still be alive.

Some of my experiences, and the experiences of my friends, serve as 'failure stories'; stories that show what can go wrong when services become over-stretched:
  • I know far too many people who have been reliant on mental health services for 10 years+ because they have never been given the intensive input they need to make lasting changes. These are people who are desperate to be well, and to be able to realise their potential. 

  • Earlier this year I called an ambulance and was put on hold. For an ambulance. I then waited (alone, distressed, and dangerously impulsive) for nearly an hour for it to turn up [yes, it was a necessary call out, I acted on the advice of NHS Direct]. 

  • During my first psych admission, a young woman died on the ward. Obviously this is not a 'never event', but it was a very busy night and the staff were incredibly over-stretched. To this day the idea that this might possibly have been preventable makes me so, so angry and upset. What a waste of a life. 

If even one more person dies because of cuts to mental health services, then we have (been) failed. And they will. 

6 comments

  1. Amazing post - clear, concise and angry, just what we need right now!

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  2. ooosh. well done you. we need to be angry, this is bullshit.

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    1. It really, really is... Sadly I can't see things getting much better any time soon.

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  3. I am glad you were considered Worth it! You are and so is everyone who needs the support. I really hope they sort it out x

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    1. Me too... The thing is that it'll probably get worse! x

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