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Only one ‘blue’ day?

Mental health ‘biggest challenge of our age’
Jody Whitehill, Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Yesterday (January 16) was Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year and it falls each year on the third Monday of January.


For many the end of the Christmas period is hard – the festivities are over, the time with your family quickly feels like a distant memory once you return to work, the financial strain of Christmas spending can make January a difficult month and the short, dark days can be hard too.


But for many Blue Monday is more than just a day where you feel a bit down and can last a lot longer than just one day.


Mental health charity Mind says that Blue Monday is misleading and that depression is not dictated by date.


A shocking 25 per cent of UK adults suffer mental health problems in any one year and 41 per cent of the people referred to a talking therapy have a three month wait for treatment.


Mental health is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that by 2030, depression will overtake heart disease and cancer as the leading global burden of disease.


Under the current conservative government mental health funding has decreased by eight per cent, while demand for services has increase by 18.5 per cent since 2010.


Mental health services are underfunded in the NHS — they receive for only 12 per cent of NHS funding, while accounting for 21 per cent of interactions with patients within the NHS.


Prime minister Theresa May has made promises on mental health but so far we are yet to see any extra funding made available for providing better services and there are now less mental health nurses then there were in 2010.


“Mental health service provision has gone backwards under the Tories and the only chance of Theresa May’s high rhetoric on mental health services being achieved is through concrete action to give mental health services parity with physical health services,” said Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite national officer for health.


A Unite survey of NHS applied psychologists in October 2016 showed mental health services are reeling from a funding crisis, low morale and increased workloads.


“The government must seriously address the funding crisis to deliver a well-qualified and trained workforce and end practices that cause stress, fear and, ultimately, lead to highly qualified professionals departing the NHS, at a time when their skills are needed more than ever and mental health waiting lists get longer and longer,” added Colenzo.


Scariest by far

“I have suffered with several illnesses throughout my life but mental illness has been the scariest by far,” said Kate Brookes.


“I didn’t understand what was happening to me, who to turn to or if I would ever feel better. I had visions of ending my life and leaving behind a young family who needed me but I didn’t have the strength to seek the help I needed,” added Kate.


Waiting times for a GP appointment have increased up to four weeks, which now makes it even harder for people to get the help that they need. We have one of the lowest numbers of doctors per head of population in Europe.


“I was lucky to be seen by my GP within two days. I was put on anti-depressants and referred for counselling,” said Kate.


“I wouldn’t say I am ‘cured’ but I now know the signs to look out for, how to reach out of I need help and that there are many, many other living with depression who do understand what you are going through,” she added.


If you are struggling and feel you need to talk to someone before you can be seen by a GP here are some charities and organisations that support people with mental health issues:


The Samaritans




Anxiety UK


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