Cynicism about Mental Health Awareness Week

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I'm angry.

I'm pretty vocal about being mentally ill, both online and in my personal life. I'm vocal because I believe I shouldn't have to lie about my health to be accepted in mainstream society. And amazing communities dedicated to fighting stigma and educating the public have helped me tremendously in my recovery.

So I feel pretty terrible for saying it's not enough, but it really isn't.

Our NHS is being gutted. People aren't getting the care they need. A&E departments, mental health wards and just about every service you can think of are being shut down around the country.

A GP cannot attend to the needs of a mental health patient in a 10-minute appointment. Even the wait times for counselling are six weeks. Six weeks to someone with severe depression are an eternity. If someone needs therapy, they might wait almost two years with no mental health care at all. And if someone needs a bed on a psychiatric ward, they could be sent to a completely different part of the country, dumped in a hostel somewhere or turned away even when desperately suicidal. Not everyone can afford expensive private care, and as for the support of friends and family? That's all it is. Support. It can help a lot, but it's not a substitute for professional treatment.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, let's make people aware of how difficult it is to get help in this country. The NHS is overstretched and underfunded. And if we sit and ignore the problem, ever-deeper funding cuts will go through unopposed.

I'm not saying this will be remotely easy. This government is still standing despite widespread protest. I'm not saying that there's any guarantee of success - I've campaigned against cuts before and they've still gone through.

I'm saying that without an effective NHS which can provide treatment quickly, mental health awareness is all but useless. It's no use knowing that it's okay to have a mental illness if doctors keep refusing you help you need because there's not enough money to pay for your medication, or your therapy, or your hospital stay.

I'm saying that right now, we need to be aware of what's happening to our NHS and we need to fight like hell for it. It's going to be hard and it might not even work, but it's better than ignoring the problem altogether and doing nothing about it.