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  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

Sad reality of U.K mental healthcare: a huge disparity between NHS and private psychiatric services

There were an enormous amount of articles published as a result of the broadcasting of two powerful mental illness and suicide documentaries last week.

Roman Kemp's 'Our Silent Emergency' and Channel 4's 'Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death' have both given us lots to consider as we try to tackle the complicated issues surrounding mental illness and suicide in the U.K.

There are almost too many articles at the moment because it's hard for people to keep up with, and there are so many issues surrounding mental health (illness) that it's easy to over-do it and alienate people - especially those that are not directly affected by mental health issues.

Some of the important messages also get lost in the profusion of articles and there's all sorts of problems being tackled at the same time which unfortunately means that not one of them gets the deserved focus to allow for it to be effectively tackled and resolved.

The same is happening with the allocation of money raised through both fundraising and government spending which goes in all sorts of directions, meaning that it is thinly spread which doesn't help those in desperate need, anywhere near as effectively as it could.

I mentioned last week that I will be fundraising to buy an rTMS machine (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) for my local psychiatric hospital because there isn't one currently and I am having to pay huge private medical fees to get access to the treatment that has saved my life.

It seems that it is going to come down to the severely affected yet again, who will have to do something about providing treatments on the NHS - the irony in all of this doesn't escape me!

I am going to be focusing on fundraising for three areas in the future which are: mental health research, provision of current private treatments onto the NHS, and building my own centre for suicidal people (men in particular) to receive support, effective treatments and mental health education, in an appropriate setting NOT an unsettling and chaotic psychiatric hospital.

So, I've got my work cut out if I'm going to achieve any of this! I just hope that people start to see that we need to be focusing our efforts on the treatment and research side of things so that we can get people into remission from mental illnesses and give them their lives back.

There must be millions of people out there today, under a duvet with the curtains closed like I used to be, completely crippled by depression and mixed state bipolar disorder and I'm just so terrified for them because they're on a knife edge continuously, yet there's a treatment out there that I've received privately that can get them well. The AGONY I feel in all of this is palpable.

The disparity between private and NHS healthcare especially for psychiatric problems is ENORMOUS and the fact that private doctors are using treatments that are not even available on the NHS is unjustifiable.

It's totally possible for NHS psychiatrists to be using the same treatments that I received privately, but after going round in circles for twenty years on my NHS psychiatric 'safari' I can tell you that they are not doing this!

Every psychiatrist does a different thing, there's absolutely no unity or agreed approach which is quite frankly TERRIFYING.

One is partial to using antidepressants (highly dangerous for a bipolar), one uses a combination of antidepressants and mood stabilisers, one uses ECT, one uses ketamine (DISASTROUS for me), one uses antipsychotics and advocates talking therapy, one says hospitalisation is needed, and one says psychiatric drugs are feeding and generating mental illnesses!! - it's an absolute MINEFIELD for the patient - How the hell are we supposed to know what to do?!

It's trial and error until something sticks quite frankly, which isn't particularly helpful for the patient, who is already 'dying to stay alive' with mental illness and does not need confusion and complications to add to their already intense misery.

I've switched psychiatrists numerous times and I'd been through every treatment available on the NHS, so after 20 years of hell, I've ditched it in favour of private treatment and guess what? I'm in full remission from bipolar disorder!

I'd now rather cripple myself financially than go through more failures on the NHS - who wouldn't?! But I know this isn't right at all, and it comes down to a lack of money really, because the NHS is stretched to breaking point and I do understand the issues involved in all of this (especially now); it's just that it's frustrating when you've spent so long fighting a debilitating illness that has ripped a massive hole in what would have otherwise been a successful and productive life.

I thought the only difference between private and NHS would be the service (which is a million miles better privately), I didn't think there would actually be a difference between what they were able to prescribe and offer regarding treatments and medications - but there IS! It's such a difficult problem to sort out, but I am determined to try!

I'm so sad to have to say this but if you CAN afford to go privately then do it immediately! Don't mess about like I have for 20 years on the NHS with unanswered phone calls, month-long waits (often spent in suicidal crisis) to be referred to a psychiatrist, six-month waiting lists to see a therapist, and failure after failure plus horrific and catastrophic side effects from the psychiatric drugs - go privately NOW!

For those that can't do this - I AM COMING for you NEXT so please hold on!!

I'm having to take a deep breath again this morning because all of this is difficult to document and the frustration from the reality of the situation is sad and upsetting, but I am insistent that people should know about what is going on out there and be able to benefit from my terrible experience!

I will be covering some of the important articles that were written last week over the next few days so stick with me because there is so much more to come!!

Thanks for reading,

Speak to you soon,


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