The importance of early intervention in the treatment of serious mental illness – and the need for GPs to become up-to-speed in diagnosing mental ill health – was one of the talking points at today’s Movin’ On Up event in Barry.
Anne has been a full-time carer (since giving up work) for approximately two years. Speaking about her experiences of caring and mental health services in the Vale of Glamorgan Anne, who cares for her husband who has bipolar disorder, and her son, who has been given a diagnosis of psychosis, said: “My son’s problems started six years ago when he was 16. Unfortunately his GP did not believe he had mental health problems, he thought it was simply a case of bad behaviour. I begged my GP to write to a psychiatrist but he refused. My son would go to the job centre for Jobseeker’s Allowance and even they could see he had problems. Someone from the job centre phoned my son’s GP and he said: ‘What’s it got to do with you?’
“I tried to access support for my son via the local council. However, I was shocked to learn that he was too old for CAMHS services and too young to receive adult services. I could not believe that a loophole like this existed. I was batted back and for between child and adult services, I became very stressed and confused and almost fell ill myself. Since then I have had to fight to get services for my son. I had, for example, to push hard to get a Support Worker in place for him.
“I strongly believe that early intervention is crucial in the treatment of serious mental illness, that there should be an easy transition between children’s and adult mental health services and that GPs should be brought up-to-speed on mental health issues, and that they are fully trained to see the signs and symptoms. It’s crucial that GPs are au fait with mental illness as they are the first port of call for most people.”
The aim of the “Movin’ On Up” campaign is to maximise the opportunities for recovery from serious mental illness which will be provided by “Together for Mental Health”, and the historic Mental Health (Wales) Measure. The Measure is hugely significant because it affords service users key new rights and has finally given users of secondary mental health services in Wales the legal right to a comprehensive holistic Care and Treatment Plan covering areas such as: accommodation; finance and money; and education and training.
The “Movin’ On Up” campaign is run by service users and carers and supported by mental health charities Hafal, Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation. 22 weekly county events are taking place and the campaign will culminate in a climb of Wales’ highest peak, Snowdon, in September. The campaign will also feature an interactive stand on World Mental Health Day at the National Assembly.