It’s a well-known fact that urgency (or rather lack of it) is contributing to and exacerbating mental illness in this country. GPs are often clueless as to where to refer their patients, that is if they are able to diagnose or recognise what the issue may be. Lack of understanding of many mental illnesses and stigma, especially surrounding eating disorders, unfortunately appears to still be rife in the NHS as well as in society as a whole.
Not being referred for the help you need makes you feel like you are not being taken seriously. Perhaps you are lying, perhaps you are overreacting? Maybe you aren’t worth the help? Damaging feelings for those who already have a negative mindset.
I don’t believe that bashing the NHS will bring any positive change – that’s not what this article is about. It’s about identifying and sharing other avenues which are open to those suffering who don’t feel they are being listened to or are getting help quickly enough – other avenues which do exist but aren’t always widely known about. Avenues which your GP probably also does not know about – therefore you simply don’t hear about them.
Over 11 years, I’ve tried to access help on the NHS several times. Sometimes it was voluntary and elective, at others it was something that I was compelled to participate in. Each time, I was let down. I decided each time I was poorly that if I was going to feel better I had to do it alone – as I always had done.
At the end of this year, I was under a lot of stress and pressure and my family asked me to go to the GP. I refused because I knew no good would come of that – and a few weeks later someone came back to me and said that a friend at work had been talking about the charity Mind, and how they had helped them. I was sceptical at first, but I agreed to give it a go and called my local Mind. They called me back and arranged a one-to-one with a member of staff who could direct me to the right place for support.
I was so impressed with this service. For the first time, I felt properly listened to, and the staff member I saw completely understood that I felt demoralised and had actually been made to feel worse in the past by not having been taken seriously or receiving the treatment I had urgently needed on several occasions. She was incredibly efficient and printed off a self-referral form there and then (this exists in my borough but obviously may differ depending on which region you live in). I have been recommending Mind to all my friends who have felt let down or who are disgruntled because they are consistently ignored by their GP, or those who are desperate for help and stuck on endless waiting lists for therapy.
If you are struggling to access help through your GP, then I would encourage you to speak to your local branch of Mind. They can listen to you completely impartially, and share with you the local resources which may help you. They may also be able to help you to get referred – so it’s definitely worth a trip. They also run workshops and therapies themselves, so there’s lots of ways in which they can possibly help.
Have you accessed help through Mind?
Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!