The physical/mental divide – how is it that this remains in the 21st century?
Nick clegg talked about it during his election campaign. He highlighted the disparity there is between funding for Physical Health and that for Mental Health Provision. He’s absolutely right, too – given that more than a third of GP consultations are for Mental Health issues yet it receives just 11% of the funding. And look at the funding pumped into ‘health’ promotion (e.g. healthy eating/fit for life etc) and in prevention yet helping people to think about to keep mentally healthy is left to a handful of charities without the governmental machinery behind them. I put ‘health’ in inverted commas because we should be seeing health in a holistic sense and not even making a division between the physical and the mental aspects – because it’s such false dichotomy. Health should be the whole of us, not just the bits you can see, or the bits people understand about.
I spoke to an insurance company the other day, which had a 25 page list of the physical procedures they would pay for, but when I told them I was doing a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a young person they were unsure if this would be covered and had to get back to me. CBT has a huge evidence base – we know it can make life significantly better for someone, and perhaps even save their life, so why is it not considered in the same way as an appendectomy or varicose vein removal? And, what on earth they are going to say when I ask them if I can do a systemic piece of family therapy or am teaching a child to externalise their anger using narrative therapy. The latter is something I do quite often, as children can believe that their strong feelings are the whole of them and controlling what they do without any redress. I can help them to see their anger (/anxiety/low mood etc) as something they can fight and develop a sense of control over. However in the case of the mental/physical divide and the ongoing discrepancy in the way these two are approached I think I’m going to wholeheartedly own my anger and continue to make it known that the situation is not ok. It’s worth holding on to this anger if it drives me to keep seeking change.