I saw this article from The Guardian shared on facebook earlier, discussing the stigma fighting analogy of treating mental health like a broken leg – and why this can’t be applied to funding. It’s absolutely spot on, although the examples given are a little extreme, please read it.
The problem with the broken leg analogy is that it gives a fairly rigid timescale for progress and healing – possibly an operation, a cast, pain killers, crutches, physio and so on. Without complications, most people will be fully recovered in roughly the same amount of time.
Mental health just isn’t like that. A fixed number of appointments and *ta da* you’re cured. Well, probably not if you have something a little more complex. With a broken leg you can trust the doctor – any doctor – to help you and make you better, but with a mental illness that trust isn’t so easy to have.
In the first few months of being in the mental health system, of being a service user, I saw three different people. Just as I was starting to trust the third person I was moved on to a psychologist I saw only once and then to my current psych who has provided the most continuity of care. I wasn’t cured by the set number of appointments I was initially given, and I’m not cured now no matter how much I wish I was.
There can be no timescale for fixing a broken brain, funding cannot be allocated in the same way as it is to physical health. Knowing you have X appointments left piles on the pressure, and pressure is something a lot of people with mental illness just don’t cope well with. Ditto for uncertainty over what will happen when you have had your allocated number of sessions.
I love the broken leg analogy, but it needs to be limited to tackling stigma and not pulled across into the realm of funding.