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Becky Blomfield On Why Mental Health Services Need A Drastic Change

Despite the Budget pledge of increased funding for UK support services, solving the mental health crisis requires more than money, says Milk Teeth’s vocalist/bassist.

To me it’s an absolute priority that we improve mental health services in this country. You only have to look at the music industry and the losses we’ve had over the past couple of years. How many more people do we have to lose before we take it seriously?

Having the funding is important but so is the way these services are delivered. There was a study done recently that compared treatment access and times across the UK, and some places are so much faster at responding than others. My own experiences reflect that. I‘ve been lucky recently that the doctors have been really helpful and all my treatment’s been fairly swift, but I definitely had a lot more problems when I lived in Stroud; simply trying to get the appointments, to have people understand the symptoms. Then often there are long waiting lists to be seen before anything can be done.

I‘d like to see more consistency. It’s literally a postcode lottery. If you have a good doctor who’s able to point you to the right places quicker, that’s great. But that should be a right throughout the country and not a privilege.

There’s also a gap between child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and adult services. An important part of successful recovery is in the earlier stages of treatment, which tend to be more successful in CAMHS than in adult mental health services. The services for adults need to be brought forward and dealt with quicker. When I passed 19 and realised I still needed help, it was a lot harder to access it.”

Milk Teeth’s latest song, Stain

There are also lessons to be learned from charities in this area. Beat is the leading eating disorder charity in the UK. My family has had experience with them over the years when I was ill myself, and I think they’re very forward-thinking and ahead of the game. The support they offer is 365 days a year, and they’ve extended this not only to the people who have the eating disorder but to their friends, families and partners too. I think these are people who often get forgotten about along the way.

It’s very personal to me because I was very ill as a teenager. That’s why Milk Teeth raised money for Beat with a series of self-care sessions where people could come and spend time with us and play music and just have a safe space to chat. It doesn’t ever go away, but I’d like to show people who are as ill as I was that you can go on to do things. Everyone has different needs and we need to streamline services so they’re specific to individuals and those individual needs.”

If you have been affected by the themes of this article, see youngminds.org.uk.

Interview: Paul Travers

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