Author – Lucy Bonner
Across the world, thousands of people suffering from Mental Health conditions are deprived of their Human Rights.
Not only are they discriminated against, stigmatised and disregarded, they are also subject to emotional and physical abuse from both the community and Mental Health facilities. Every individual, no matter whether they have a mental illness or not should have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, but unfortunately this is not the case. We believe that dignity comes from both within and from outside. From people, the government, laws and the community. Here at The Recover Clinic, we promote the fact that Mental Health treatment requires social nurturing not isolation. We treat the whole person for their eating disorder in an environment where our clients feel safe and secure. We help our clients realise that they know what is best for their treatment and recovery and that their feelings and choices are vital in this process. We believe our approach symbolises dignity in Mental Health.
“Dignity is about seeing the individual person and respecting their own space and their way of life.”
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, which takes place on 10 October, is “Dignity in Mental Health”. The World Health Organisation, who run World Mental Health Day, say they “will be raising awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with Mental Health conditions can continue to live with dignity, through human rights oriented policy and law, training of health professionals, respect for informed consent to treatment, inclusion in decision-making processes, and public information campaigns.”
To help understand what Dignity in Mental Health means to people, the UK’s Royal College of Nursing provided a useful definition of dignity, “Dignity is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves and others. To treat someone with dignity is to treat them as being of worth, in a way that is respectful of them as valued individuals.”
The level to which GPs are trained in Mental Health is a huge cause of concern. If a GP is faced with a chronically ill patient but is not sufficiently trained in Mental Health, it is unlikely that their patient will go on to receive the best possible care as the GP is unable to refer them to the correct doctor. A survey conducted by the Scottish Association for Mental Health found 85% of GPs felt there was a lack of local support for patients. Most doctors questioned also wanted to see more alternatives to prescription drugs used to treat mental illness. Just over one in five of the GPs surveyed had had training for treating mental health in the past six months. Clare Gerada, medical director of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, said that around 40% of everything the NHS does is based around Mental Health. In 2013, a total of 6,233 suicides of people aged 15 and over were registered in the UK. Suicide rates are on the increase and it is unreasonable to expect our GPs to be able to treat the rising number of Mental Health cases they receive with the level of dignity and respect they deserve, and therefore prevent the risk of suicide, if they have not been adequately trained to do so.
To try and close this gap, the NHS has established a task and finish group with the Royal College of GPs mental health strategy group, whose goal is to identify and recommend mandatory mental health minimum standard training for all of primary care. It is hoped that this training will close the bridge between GPs and Mental Health doctors and allow GPs to confidently refer their patients to a doctor who specialises in their case and can therefore provide the patient with the correct care and support that they require.
Here at The Recover Clinic, our approach to Mental Health reflects The World Health Organisation’s approach to dignity. We believe that each individual should be treated with the upmost respect and dignity and they feel they have the ability and right to choose to recover.