Doctor doctor

doctor_cartoon

Having been snuffling around in the pigsty of poor mental health for several years now, I’m learning to be more demanding when it comes to getting help.

A recent trip to the doctor’s more resembled a perilous voyage into Mordor than an innocent check up – I was battle-ready and prepared not to leave with just a pill prescription, but rather a more concrete and sustainable plan to wobble my way back to better mental health. Fight the power.

Except that ten minutes after shaking the doctor’s hand, I had a psychotherapy referral underway, a blood test booked and a sincere request from my GP to please come back if I felt in any way overwhelmed over the next few days. It all went so well I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

It’s not my intention to badmouth the NHS, but my experience of GPs is that they’re perpetually reluctant to make referrals to see a specialist unless you’re so far gone that your brain’s seeping out your ears like a soft, steaming mass of spaghetti. ‘Come back in six weeks’ and ‘I’m certain we can sort this out here’ are all too familiar platitudes to me. Not to mention that bloody depression questionnaire they make you fill out. Sometimes, I’ve felt like doctors are clueless when it comes to mental health.

Which is why my recent experience was so refreshing, and also why it’s so great that the campaign against mental illness stigma, Time to Change, has implemented a new project to make GPs more mental health friendly. Since October last year project workers have been leading one-to-one sessions with frontline health staff, to help them better understand mental health service users’ experiences. The results have been positive with 64% of GPs saying they were better equipped to make adjustments so that people with mental health difficulties could access their practice, as opposed to just 41% before the project began.

In times of ill health your doctor is the lifeboat you cling to and the way they react to those that reach out for help with depression and anxiety, can be life changing. So if this project has made even a shred of progress in doctors surgeries nationwide, for some people that could literally mean the difference between life and death.

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7 thoughts on “Doctor doctor

  1. Thanks for the info on Time to Change. I had no idea of it’s existence or the GP project. I tried to work out why then realised: depression. I avoid news/everything these days. I worry when I first saw my GP I must have been ‘so far gone that your brain’s seeping out your ears like a soft, steaming mass of spaghetti.’ Still, that what it felt like!

    • You’re very welcome – TTC do lots of awesome things to stamp out stigma around mental illness, they’re truly great. Totally get where you’re coming from on news avoidance – it depresses me at the best of times, let alone when I’m sick!

  2. I like the being more demanding with getting help. I am very familiar with the routine of going to the psychiatrist and answering the typical questions of “how are you?” and occasionally filling out some psych quiz and then just getting more medication and not seeing any progress, so sometimes I wonder if treatment is actually working…

    • That damn quiz, seriously, if there’s ever anything that’s going to push me over into anger management classes…

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