Warrington Guardian Column | Mental Illness

Mental illness does not discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of gender, age or ethnicity.

One in four adults and one in eight 5 to 19-year olds experience mental illness.

Those are stark statistics.

Whether brought on by pressure in the workplace, money worries, family challenges such as post-natal depression, rising levels of pensioner poverty or loneliness, mental health difficulties can affect any of us at any time.

Life is getting tougher for our children and young people as they face many challenges to their resilience, and this can take its toll on their mental health and wellbeing.   

Many are affected by bullying, the intense pressure of school work, social media or troubles at home. It is crucial that theyare given the support they need, when they need it.

But demand on support services is growing, with the number of children seeking help from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in England more than doubling over the past two years. 

Men have traditionally been reluctant to seek support. In England around 1 in 8 men have a common mental health problem. According to the Time to Change campaign, research has shown that only a third of men would talk openly about their feelings, and one in five admitted they saw others showing emotions as a sign of weakness. 31% of men said that they would be embarrassed about seeking help.

In Warrington, the Time to Change ‘be in your mate’s corner’ campaign was launched to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues, encouraging men and young people to be more open and supportive of their friends when it comes to mental health. Campaigns like these are invaluable – raising awareness and aiming to break down the stigma of talking about mental health. 

But we also need our services to be able to cope with the rising demand.

After years of Government driven austerity, the gaps in mental health provision are widening. The Government has repeatedly promised to give mental health the same priority as physical health – yet according to analysis from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, mental health trusts have less money to spend on patient care in real terms than in 2012. The Royal College of Nursing maintains that the NHS has lost 5,000 mental health nurses since 2010.

It is essential that our mental health services are properly funded to meet these unignorable pressures, and that mental health budgets are ring-fenced so that we can be sure these funds reach the frontline. 

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