9 Questions for Public Health Coordinator Phil Chick

I’ve been invited to a mental health forum. We have been asked to put questions to the public health coordinator. Here are my questions:

  1. Someone I know had bipolar and agoraphobia (they couldn’t go out the house), and yet they were told they could only go help if they go to their doctors (which is outside their house!). He likened this to a person with arachnophobia having to seek help in an enclosure with hundreds of spiders in it! Why aren’t special cases permitted more easily for people with special requirements like this? He was locked out of help, and we had to threaten legal action relating to medical negligence before they would act.
  2. The Royal College of Psychiatry state that CBT can last between 6 weeks and 6 months. Why is it then that the NHS version is limited to up to 10 weeks? This is like saying to someone that they will only get 30 minutes of surgery on their knee, and if the operation isn’t finished then they will just be left with the operation half finished. Please create a policy where the job is finished.
  3. CBT only works for people who have NATs (Negative Automatic Thoughts), so why doesn’t the NHS screen for this? i.e. it’s a waste of time using CBT on someone who is experiencing depression or anxiety for other issues.
  4. Why is the current system of sickness benefits so black and white? People are either deemed completely fit to work, or completely unfit for work. A better strategy would be to have a graded approach, i.e. some people could be deemed well enough to work 1 day a week, or 2 days a week, and they get their pay topped up with benefits. This would allow people to slowly return to work. Currently a lot of people experience high anxiety to even start getting better because they worry that they will suddenly be expected to work full-time!
  5. Why is there such a long waiting list for people with mental health issues compared to physical conditions?
  6. Why are the mental health assessments so brutal to people with mental health issues? The government punishes the vulnerable instead of the bankers, which is morally corrupt.
  7. People either have a choice of CBT or medication. Why is there a dead end after that? People receive no support if those two methods don’t work.
  8. Why do a lot of people with mental health issues have to fight so hard to get the help they need?
  9. At the Depression Summit run by The Economist, it was suggested that mental health treatment should be seen as an investment rather than a cost. The cost of helping people is less than the cost of not helping people, after benefits and damage to society etc. When is the government going to spend the right amount of money on mental health? The country would be financially better off if it invested in mental health, so even the Credit Crisis is not an excuse.

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