Dave's Progress. Chapter 78: The Big Nothing.

So, I've been away from blogland for a while, and to my many fans and admirers I apologise for this. OK, so I'm being sarcastic, but for those of you who do follow this blog, you may like to know that I have been, as well as all the usual stuff, preparing my CV and covering letters to send to potential employers. After my invective last time, I thought I had better put my money where my mouth is and actually start doing something about what I often only speak of.
However, you may also know, unless you are a hermit who never switches on the TV or radio or reads a paper, that the economic situation we find ourselves in at the moment is perhaps not the most conducive to finding employment. Indeed, although the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, attempting to penetrate the job market, especially with my own history of illness and the type of illness that it is, may not be at all easy.
Prime Minister David Cameron's "big idea" surrounding this issue is the creation of what he calls "The Big Society". In the "big society", it seems, we will all be asked to muck in and run things which have previously been only in the hands of those qualified to do so. "We are all in this together", Cameron is fond of saying. He would have us believe that such things would be a sort of democratisation of power, while others contest that "The Big Society" is just a smoke-screen to detract from the huge cuts which are having to be made in services. Indeed, will it just be a case of some people having to do a lot more for a lot less.
A case in point seems to be that of the recent reforms in the health service, where primary care trusts will be stripped of the power to commission services, instead handing over this power to GPs. One of the many problems with this "revolutionary" idea, however, is that the provision of care for those with mental illness might become, as a recent "Observer" article attested, "a postcode lottery writ large". The article goes on to explain why this might be:
"...two polls of family doctors have revealed that an overwhelming number don't feel able to take on the role of providing services for patients with mental health problems. In the first, by the charity Rethink, more than tree-quarters of GPs said they didn't feel equipped for the role, while the same proportion were happy to provide for patients with conditions such as diabetes and asthma."
The result of this, says Rethink, will be that without a national plan to train GP's, an estimated 1.5 million people with severe mental illness will not get treatment. The problems associated with lack of treatment are well known, and now patients have not only the massive weight of stigma to dissuade them from seeking treatment, but also this massive hole in services.
Aswell as this, Mind have suggested that there are increasing reports of services for mental illness being cut. It says people are worried about cuts in incapacity benefits, closure of drop-in centres and other services. So, will things continue as they possibly always have, with mental health services being the poor man of health provision? Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, seems to think so, stating, "there is always a concern when times are tight that mental health gets treated disproportionately negatively."
So, it seems, that instead of being in this all together, some, namely those with mental ill health, will continue to be marginalised, alienated and disempowered. "The Big Society", to them, may in fact mean a great, big nothing.
That's all for now from your normal, average, paranoid and delusional man.


corfubob said…
It's a sad picture you paint, and sadder because people do not readily believe anything can go wrong with the mind, even in some cases when it happens to them. "It's all in the mind" others say, meaning 'not real'

Keep blogging please.

Help us all understand what happens. You can certainly use language.
bazza said…
Forgive my ignorance David, but are you obliged to reveal to a potential employer all of your medical history?
You may well feel, justifiably, that you want to because it's nothing to be ashamed of but what is the legal position?
Judging by your profile you may be seeking employment in the accounting or writing professions.
If so, have you considered working for yourself? Lots of small businesses and startups outsource their bookkkeeping and there are other business services such as tax returns, self-assessment, company formations etc. I work as a business adviser by profession so I do know this world quite well.
David said…
Dear corfubob,
Thank you for your encouragement, but I hope it's not all sadness and despair that I get across. People can and do recover from mental health issues, even those regarded as severe as mine, and go on to lead "normal" lives.
But I will certainly try my best to help you understand what happens when things go wrong. As with other illneses, it seems to be a case of, at least in the minds of the more enlightened non-sufferer, "there but for the grace of God go I".
Thanks once again.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear bazza,
Thanks for the free advice!
Unfortunately, the "accounting" job listed on my profile was there when I started blogging and was not put in by me. This blog was initially started by the Media
Action Group for Mental Health as part of its "mindbloggling" campaign, and so I did not set it up myself.
As to your other question about the legal position of revealing one's illness, I have to say that I will have to look in to it. I know that in the US, you are not required to reveal anything, but here it may be different. I believe there was a case last year regarding someone's history of depression which may have set a precedent in this area, but again I would have to look in to this to be sure.
Thanks for your concern, bazza. I hope you continue to find something of interest here.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
Anonymous said…
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Well, please include me amongst your many fans and admirers. Always worth the wait for your postings.
I have noted the eloquent responses from the other 'two'.
This seems like more of the Maggie Thatcher ideals being reinforced by a Government that is indeed using catchphrases such as 'The Big Society' to detract away from the fact that this mucking in is really a way of getting people to potentially volunteer there services at the expense of those who may have been in a paid position.
This could, sadly, make paid job opportunities for those with mental health concerns, all the more daunting. This is, of course, compounded by the fact the 1.5 million you allude too, will not get the help they need. This can only be a detriment to those in that situation who would like help and become meaningful contributors to society.
With kind wishes, Gary.
Anonymous said…
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks, as ever, for your understanding comment.
Being in the position I am in, I feel I am ready to move on. I would never, however, force people in to working when they have entirely valid mental health issues. This, it seems, may be another element of "the big society" as I believe all those on incapacity benefit are to be "retested" to find if they are capable of work. Perhaps another way of covering up cuts in services, and it always seems to be the most vulnerable who end up paying.
Thanks once again,
Yours with Very Best Wishes,

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