Why Can’t The NHS Treat Mental Health Effectively?

It’s been an interesting few years for mental health; once seen as an ambiguous and silent range of problems that were kept out of the public perception, it has recently found its voice and received an unprecedented amount of attention. Numerous articles questioning the quality of treatment available in the UK and lack of government funding have dominated the media, while an increasing number of public figures campaign against the stigma surrounding the subject.

But has all this attention made any difference? It’s all very well the government promising radical change and raising awareness of the prevalence of mental illnesses. What remains to be seen, however, is evidence from the frontline of these changes happening.

So five years on from Nick Clegg’s speech calling for mental health reform – and after countless parliamentary promises for a change to the system in the years that followed – radical improvements remain to be seen. Stark inequality between physical and psychiatric care and the subsequent economic and social strain this puts on individuals and communities persists, while underfunded psychiatric wards are under intense strain from lack of beds and facilities to properly care for patients and provide staff with the training they need to treat such complex conditions.

Unfortunately, under the current government, it doesn’t seem that things will be changing for the better any time soon. The Conservative party’s inexorable privatisation of public services has left the NHS in a precarious position. The hospital beds in London’s mental health centres are in gradual decline as more and more ground is sold to private developers, which seems symbolic of the gradual death of our once globally esteemed social welfare system.

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