This was Laura’s experience in Scotland, but it’s not really any different anywhere else.
I’m university-educated, pretty tenacious, and am lucky enough to have very strong social support systems around me but navigating NHS mental healthcare took exactly the sort of clear-headed determination that I wasn’t feeling.
The fact of the matter is, the mental health system in most countries, heck even the medical system for psychical ailments, is a confusing mess of rules, regulations, waiting, and hoping. It can require a ton of work, and a bunch of luck, to get to the help even after you ask for it.
When I look back at my own experience, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I was to have people help me navigate this system. The first time I had a truly serious mental health issue, I also had a close friend who was a doctor. After being recovered from living on the streets during my fugue state, I was in his office the next day. He did some blood work and checked for physical issues, had me setup with an appointment for an MRI, and a referral to a psychiatrist within the week.
I also had a job that had put me on medical leave while I gone, and then allowed me to work around these appointments, keeping my insurance and money flowing in.
Do you have any idea how many people don’t have anything even close to that? How many people are out there dealing with a mental health crises, with no help at all getting through this system?
That has to change. The system shouldn’t make it this difficult to get help, and there should be someone to help anyone get directly where they need to be for help until the entire system can be improved to make it easy.
Until then, we are simply failing too many people.
So yes, speak up, and speak out. But as the rest of Laura’s experience shows us, we need to do better at listening, and reacting, to help those who do.