Saturday, 23 May 2015

Meeting with my local MP

As a result of my last blog post I was spurred on to write to my local MP about mental health services in the UK. I was invited to his surgery and met him yesterday. I voiced my opinion and said that I am speaking on behalf of all survivors who are in need of support. 
We discussed support available to survivors during and after a court case. I spoke about my own experience and the fact that I received no support, unfortunately hit rock bottom and tried to take my life. Only then was I offered a lifeline, which in all honesty changed my life. I said that in my case, and in the case of many others, when we finally remember and admit what happened to us, our first instinct is to stop the perpetrator from reoffending. Obviously we are putting the safety of others before ourselves when in reality we deserve ongoing counselling during and after a court case. 
The discussion concluded with action points that will be forwarded to the Victims Minister. From what I can remember, the main points we discussed were:

  • support services need to be in place during and after a survivor goes through a court case
  • survivors deserve more than 2 years counselling services on the NHS (a deadline can't be placed on someone's healing) 
  • my local area is in need of a support centre that offers individual and group therapy
  • survivors need to feel validated and made aware of support/ treatment that is on offer

I will admit that I am proud of myself for making it through the meeting and speaking so eloquently. A year ago I could barely speak about my experience without getting extremely upset, so it shows how far I have come. With my new found confidence I wish to continue speaking out and being actively involved in campaigns. In my life I haven’t always received the support I deserve, however, I can try to implement changes in order to improve the support offered to other survivors in the future. 

Here is a copy of the initial letter that I wrote to my MP:
I am writing to ask for your help with progressing mental health services available in the UK. Throughout my life I have needed counselling and will need it continuously for the rest of my life. I have previously paid for private therapy but last year, due to health reasons and unemployment, I had counselling through the NHS. I really appreciate the therapy I received as it has enabled me to move forward with my life, however, I was saddened to hear that I could only have 6 sessions on the NHS. It is really detrimental to anyone in need of help to be told: "you must heal in 6 counselling sessions." In fact, I would say that it is impossible to heal so quickly, especially for people like myself who suffered trauma over a long period of time.

In the UK, we are very fortunate to have the NHS, however I wonder about budgets that have been implemented for healthcare. I noticed that as a result of this year's budget, £1.25 billion will be spent on mental health services in the UK. I am curious to know the breakdown of this amount and how this might affect counselling services. If you have more information about this, I would appreciate it if you could share it with me.

Unfortunately, my voice alone is not enough so I hope you might be able to help with progressing mental health services. I feel there needs to be more leadership from the national government and the media. While there has been progress in ending stigma around mental health, education is needed within the schooling system to end the mental health stereotypes embedded in our culture. People with mental health problems need to feel supported and comfortable knowing that they can heal at their own pace. It is unfair to give someone a deadline in which they need to heal.

I would really appreciate any support you could offer in regard to this matter. I would be willing to meet you to discuss this further if you feel I can be of assistance. 

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