The Tories should stop playing political football with mental health
Yesterday we were treated to yet more politically motivated NHS bashing from the now somewhat irrelevant Gordon Brown.
Today is just another day for the NHS bashers of the world. This time the culprit is the ever so slightly more right wing Annie Wells MSP. The subject of the moment seems to be mental health provision in Scotland’s NHS, something I happen to be particularly familiar with.
I find it incredibly disconcerting that political opponents would choose to exploit such a subject solely for political gain. The argument is that the Scottish Government are failing in their duties to not only provide the appropriate support for patients but also in capping a number of patients they should treat with anti-depressants. Annie Wells MSP made her stance clear in an interview in her capacity as Mental Health Spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives - "The nationalists were very clear that reducing the prescription of these drugs would be one of their priorities, but the opposite has happened."
The Conservatives would do well to remember that benefit sanctions are one of the leading causes of mental illness amongst adults in the UK. The Tory government's agenda is partly responsible for mental illness and should they reconsider this ill-judged approach to social security, fewer people would be suffering mentally. Annie Wells should know that the SNP will not bury mental health issues under the rug, our primary aim is to give help to everyone who needs it.
Perhaps the prescription of anti-depressant medications ARE on the up, but I suspect the actual reason behind that draws no correlations with the political agenda Ms. Wells aims to promote. For reference, it should be noted that anti-depressants are not always prescribed to treat depression and in fact have a multitude of other uses from MS to Sciatica and this should be taken in to account. However, the most obvious rebuttal for Ms. Wells’ poorly formulated argument is this - should it not be considered that a rise in anti-depressant prescriptions could well have stemmed from an increase in mental illness sufferers seeking help for their condition? It is a commonly known fact that mental illness goes undiagnosed more often than not due to the societal stigma attached to it and this is undoubtedly the biggest barrier we face as we tackle the impact that mental illness has on our society. If so, I very much welcome this development and believe it’s absolutely a step in the right direction. We should be wholeheartedly encouraging those who suffer silently to come forward.
Antidepressants save lives. They saved mine and they will save many others after me who find themselves in a similar position. Considering the suicide rate in Scotland rose by 8% from 2015-2016 and is the biggest killer of young men in the UK, perhaps an increase in anti-depressant medication is precisely what is required to prevent disaster?
The reality is, there are more of us suffering than we realise and as mental illness becomes less of a taboo subject, the domino effect occurs and more sufferers will seek help. It’s not a bad thing. The more people that seek help, the more the suicide epidemic will be brought to heel.
Annie Wells MSP, I would much rather anti-depressant prescription numbers were up than suicide numbers. Right now, let’s focus on saving lives rather than political gain.