So 2020 is a new decade, and has brought somewhat of a rollercoaster of change with it. From climate change, political tyrants, Brexit ripping us away from our European brothers and sisters and then the world lockdown against the invisible but deadly virus Covid-19, it’s been quite the page turner. As we stand together at this precipice of potential lockdown take 2, it’s a good time to reflect on what little, if any mental health protection we have in England for those reeling from all of this… and let’s be honest; who isn’t?
For some of us coming out of the pandemic lockdown meant getting back into the groove of things, a welcome plunge back into eating out to help the break out. Sorry, I mean to help out (slip of the tongue, honest). Projects and aspirations for the next decade ahead are rebooting back into business. For many others, just a few hours doted towards something else other than the fear of this virus are a win, with many of course, still shielding.
There’s a few people though that are not getting out there jubilantly, nor feeling comfortable stuck in, but rather are sat feeling sick and scared right now at the thought of returning to work.
As if it wasn’t bad enough before the virus, The Telegraph reported on November 1st 2018, that in the UK alone, ‘For the first time, work-related stress anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in Great Britain.’ They go on to say ‘In total, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/18 as a result of the condition, up from 12.5 million last year.‘ We can imagine that this ‘soul sickness’ will have likely continued the trend and increased on these figures for 2019. With front line workers now also in harms way, anxiety has sky rocketed.
So if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself that you’re experiencing anxiety and stress at work, or that you simply can’t face going into work (for whatever reason), you’re not alone. With over 50% of all health related absences being stress, anxiety or depression related, it really does scream that we have a major problem going on in the UK of epidemic proportions… and it has actually little to do with Covid-19.
Just when the nation needed more mental health awareness and support, the budgets were slashed and services cut. Little did they know of the crisis that lay ahead. The measly offerings of GPs for the all new singing and dancing Improved Access to Pychological Therapies programme (IAPT, touted to be the new solution for the decade, launched back in 2008, for those struggling with their mental health) parcelled up tiny rations of quite basic support (due to ever depleting funding constraints and workers being paid low wages for their highly qualified level) which meant it just didn’t deliver enough clout for the majority of people with anxiety seeking help. With the Children and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) bending under a cascading arch of referrals and also suffering from a lack of funds, waiting lists have peaked in recent years at around 18 months for some young people, a figure the workers within these services themselves are sure to be losing sleep over.
Mental health is at an all time low since after the end of the war over 70 years ago, with the only exception being that during lockdown, many of those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders or anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, bi-polar or GAD actually reported a spike in improved feelings, largely due to no longer being expected to go out or frequent school or the work place.
For a while now I’ve been campaigning and sharing knowledge on the abilities of hypnotherapy to get to the heart of psychological matters, especially anxiety and stress. But it’s not just hypnotherapy that can be beneficial on the war against stress and anxiety.
There’s a growing number of us out there, an army of us in the complementary healthcare field, developing our working knowledge in neuroscience, the body and specialising our expertise in our chosen areas (can you tell mine is anxiety and wellbeing?), who are ready and waiting to nip these psychological problems in the bud before they grow into a dominating, all consuming, malignant issue. Many of these professionals may be the sharers of this particular article. Right now, many people are still in the middle of fighting the stress of the covid-19 situation. But what happens after, when each of us digests all that we have faced this year? When we are going back to the now old normal, of fast paced offices, schools and travel? When we have time to stop and notice how it affected us and our families?
It’s frustrating to say the least, when after 4 or 5 private hypnotherapy sessions, agoraphobics are starting to go out again without panic and are exclaiming that they are feeling the joys of being ‘normal’ again. Not because it isn’t wonderful news; it is! But because they needed to pay us privately for what should fundamentally be effective, basic mental health care for our nation.
The overweight individuals, weighed down with depression and trauma, sweating out the shame and guilt they’ve been made to feel living in a image-driven society like ours, changing and finding their unconscious passion and niche blooming within weeks, and feeling proactive and proud to be active and on the road to recovery of their persona.
The children who are feeling sick in their tummies, when they think of school, rejoining their friends again in the classroom within weeks and feeling safe, without the stigma of being labelled this or that all over their medical and school records.
We see these shifts and they feel right to us, yet we are still hidden in the shadows as an ‘alternative, complementary’ therapy. It’s tough on us when we see how good health care can be, day in, day out. It feels like something should be done about it.
We are all individuals in society, and this one size fits all approach to mental health in the community does nothing but pigeon hole our friends and family, and reinforce the unhealthy behaviours we have developed within ourselves from the way we saw the world as children. The very ones we each (with wisdom and experience) spend our later adult years working so hard to get rid of to feel unhindered and accomplished in whoever we choose to be.
So what’s the answer in this crazy time of school kids standing in their own box and adults eating out behind perspex visors? There isn’t a clear cut one I’m afraid. We ultimately need high quality mental health soldiers with a real working understanding of what trauma and anxiety does to a person, to get into the trench with them and help them out of it with our handy extendable, foldable ladders and torches.
For society to stop sending in generals to give them basic ideas from the sidelines, that they’ve probably already tried, before realising they’re definitely stuck. Or wasting money or time sending them mechanics or chefs, who they don’t really need (however skilled they are or thoughtful).
Before this metaphor for getting adequate quality services the client actually needs gets lost… good quality, empowering, reliable, practical and knowledgeable mental health work really is the only preventative way forwards for our nation right NOW, at this time whilst everyone is still in the thick of survival. It’s really rather critical. Because in a few months, front line workers, our friends and our family will be hopefully physically recovering, and will be psychologically hit with how much of a toll this has had, as they reflect, and we’ll need to be ready as many turn to mental health services at that point.
If you want to find some of these unsung heroes, I’d recommend the professionals on the Hypnotherapy Directory online. Read the profiles to hunt out and ensure you find those professionals that have a passion or specialism in what you’re specifically wanting help with. Additionally, check the practitioners (in whatever field they’re in) are registered with membership bodies, such as the only government endorsed membership body for professionals in alternative healthcare fields, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). If for any reason you don’t ‘click’, switch to someone else. My motto is, you’re aiming to get rid of the anxiety, not add to it.
I really hope to see in 2020, some urgent support put in place around post covid-19 mental health services, and also the encouragement of free ‘micro’ relaxation sessions for the masses, a movement I’m myself supporting with my series of short to the point meditations over on YouTube. Now, I want to pull no punches about the fact that these are a sticking plaster for a problem that needs a much bigger answer. However, they do work impressively well to radically halt tension and worry and drop the body into healing; reversing the effects of stress within around 5-15 minutes.
I’d love to encourage more support towards our wonderful NHS, and a teamwork model for getting the right people and their support services to the clients that need them. From the likes of yourself at home sharing this article, and researching what alternative health support is out their for your condition or feelings, to exceptional, caring GPs, consultants and health staff professionals facilitating with passion a ‘bigger picture’ approach to healthcare and suggesting possible complementary therapies IN ADVANCE of crisis point being reached by patients. There is a quiet educated army of very talented professionals out there, we just need more help in people being vocal about the need for us and pulling it all together so it can be streamlined, made uniform and offered to you, ideally free of charge.
We stand together at a great time of change, and I believe, as Tocqueville wrote on revolutions:
“It is almost never when a state of things is the most detestable that it is smashed, but when, beginning to improve, it permits men to breathe, to reflect, to communicate their thoughts with each other, and to gauge by what they already have the extent of their rights and their grievances. The weight, although less heavy, seems then all the more unbearable.”
Wishing you a positive plot twist for 2020,