In this day and age, you would think that we would finally be able to speak openly about mental health and accessing help easily. But if Meghan Markle’s devasting Oprah interview has taught us anything, it’s that unfortunately, that does not always seem to be the case.
Accessing mental health supports
The issue with accessing mental health services is twofold in my opinion. Firstly, you must first be brave enough to address the fact that you need help, and then must feel free to seek that help. Poor Meghan Markle, who was having what can only be described as a mental health crisis, actually managed to do both things, and yet still help was not given. Hers was not an issue of finance. The Royal Family has huge resources behind them. It was an issue of image. A distressed Meghan was told to grin and bear it as everyone else does.
A dangerous narrative
This is, of course, an extremely dangerous narrative, one that can only bring pain and suffering. This pain was shown by both Meghan and Harry. We have seen their fallout unwind in front of our eyes. The Royal family has huge clout in the United Kingdom and indeed across the world. To hear their alleged backward views on Monday night was startling. The lack of accountability is frightening. Scandal after scandal passes through as the Royals remain untouched. Almost twenty-five years after Princess Diana’s tragic death it seems to me like nothing has been learned.
As the pandemic continues to wage on, it’s having a very real impact on people’s mental health. For many people, this time of deep stress and isolation will have had a negative impact on their mental health. As we go through this pandemic and when we emerge from it, it can only be hoped that people will feel they can ask for and seek help. For this to happen we as a society need to be ready to encourage those conversations. We need to accept, and more than that, respect people’s bravery.
Supporting people’s mental health journey
What I hope becomes a takeaway from this pandemic is our ability to put the vulnerable people in our society at the forefront of our thoughts. Our ability to do just that during this pandemic has saved countless lives. As we move forward, I hope it is something that we continue to do. Those dealing with mental health conditions may be in a place of greater vulnerability. We must take some positives from our pandemic experience and this can be one. We cannot slip back into bad habits.
Of course, the issue is not quite as simple as this. There are financial barriers too. In 2018, just 6% of the overall health budget was allocated to mental health. This proportion was a decrease from previous years. It was severely lagging behind both national and international standards. Sláintecare is a ten-year program that aims to transform our health and social care services. It aims to address these financial barriers, with the hope of increasing the funds available for the provision of mental health services to 10% in the next ten years. One can only hope that this will come sooner rather than late so everyone can access the mental health supports they need.