OPINION: Crisis-driven intervention in mental health is threatening people’s lives

It’s no secret that mental health services in the UK are chronically underfunded. Our current government has expressed time and again it’s disdain for universal healthcare, and has funded it accordingly. As a result of this under-funding, mental health services in the UK now operate a “crisis-driven intervention” model. This is incredibly dangerous.

So what does this model look like? Simply put, it means that services will only intervene when things become to bad to ignore, when the person has reached “crisis” point. For some this can look like suicide attempt, some may be left to starve near to death from eating disorders; for me it meant no one acted until my paranoid delusions were so severe that I was a risk to myself.

Crisis-driven intervention is what happens when the system lacks the resources for early-intervention services. Early-intervention could allow for much swifter identification and treatment of mental health conditions, mitigating some of the various harms associated with such conditions. If we could stop things from reaching boiling point, then we could stop that moment where it spills over, creating a mess all over a persons life.

This is a cause for not just the activists and advocates amongst us, it is a cause for all of us. Any one of us can develop a mental health condition, it is important to know that the support is there if we do.

We must vote for governments that will give appropriate funding to our vital health services, and we must petition the current incumbents to preserve our wellbeing. I have been the person who falls through the cracks, and it is a place that I would not wish on anyone. We can all have an impact on this topic.

It’s also vital that services operate a service-user involvement model, so that treatment policy can be guided by the service-users, who by necessity become experts in their own condition and treatment. Having been involved in service-user consultancy for several years, I know first hand how vital such endeavours are.

Crisis-driven intervention models are unacceptable. They are literally costing lives. How many people are out there who received help too late? Perhaps we will never know the full figure, but what we can do is ensure that the appropriate services are there for the generations to come.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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