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With dignity

November 2nd 2015

The right to dignified care. © Time to Change

Mental health nurse Christina Clark says it’s important that mental health support is offered in a dignified way.

In the UK, only a quarter of people with mental health problems receive ongoing treatment.

This means that 75 per cent of people are thought to be battling with mental health illness alone or are receiving only informal support from friends and family.

From my experience as an inner London mental health community nurse, I very often hear about the difficulties loved ones face when trying to access help.

On 10 October, the world marked World Mental Health Day, hosted by the World Federation of Mental Health. This year's central theme was dignity and some worrying statistics were highlighted.

An ONS report from 2011 showed that twice as many people in the UK as in our EU neighbour countries reported mental health problems as the main reason for their homelessness. A separate review in 2009 found that just under a third of those residing in direct-access hostels had a serious mental health illness.

Only 65 per cent of those with psychotic disorders receive treatment. Even more alarmingly, a 2014 ‘We Need to Talk’ survey found that only 15 per cent of people who tried to access talking therapies were offered the full range of recommended treatments (as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).

Between 2013 and 2014, 94 per cent of people in the UK in contact with mental health services did not spend time in a psychiatric hospital, which indicates that most support was provided in the community.

The worry is that many people are not accessing the correct care owing to ill-informed and damaging attitudes towards mental health, which still exist.

If we do not take the concerns of our friends, family members or neighbours seriously, they could be denied desperately needed help.

The aim for this year’s World Mental Health Day was to challenge the dignified manner in which we treat those who may be facing mental health difficulties, so they feel they can continue to access the support they need without stigma-associated feelings of isolation

Feelings of discriminatory behaviour or stigma can be fatal to someone needing support in a crisis. Failing to provide dignity to others can lead to self-stigmatisation, low self-esteem and confidence, and social isolation.

In 2003, the World Health Organisation declared: “All people with mental disorders have the right to receive high-quality treatment and care delivered through responsive health care services. They should be protected against any form of inhuman treatment and discrimination”.

People should feel they are given a choice and are included in the decisions around the treatment they have access to and are eligible to receive.

A&E departments are open 24/7 and often have psychiatric departments, which you can walk into if you are finding things very difficult, or take someone else to if you are very worried about them.

Below are phone lines that offer confidential, non-judgmental support:

Samaritans (116 123) is a 24-hour crisis line with trained professionals who can help talk through your troubles – you don’t have feel suicidal. FREE (including from mobiles).

NHS 111 (111) will help signpost you to where you can seek support. FREE (including from mobiles).

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) (0800 58 58 58) For men experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings. Open 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. FREE (including from mobiles).

Mind Infoline (0300 123 3393) For information on mental health. Open 9am–6pm, weekdays.

SANEline (0300 304 7000) For emotional support and information. Open 6–11pm, 365 days a year.

Your local NHS Trust may also offer a crisis telephone line or information on where to access help in a crisis. Check your local NHS trust website for contact details.


Nov/Dec 2015



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