Balance between heart and brain — Stock VectorMental Health v. Cancer Care

 Having negIected Mental Health for years, resources are now being thrown at this branch of the NHS.  But will this do any good, or will we find mental health provision is dumped, just like cancer care has been?

The NHS is supposedly fair for all, but there are many incidences where it throws money at one branch, to great fanfare, but neglects other departments with an equal claim to resources.

It has always worried me that those with mental health issues seem to have been neglected.  But, good for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they have highlighted the need, and now the NHS has set resources aside to help those with mental issues.

But I only hope that this continues, and patients don’t find that suddenly resources are no longer available, as the NHS jumps on the next bandwagon.

Luck of the draw

I accepted it was bad luck when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but you get on with it.  Then the ‘blame’ culture swung into action.  I was told I was eating the wrong foods;  others tried to say it was the fault of stress/pollution/Martians from outer space – and every weird theory currently trending on social media.

At the time I thought I was lucky;  it was the era when cancer was ‘fashionable’, and NHS funding was being poured into cancer services – albeit it with a scattergun approach.  Now, cancer is no longer the buzz word, it’s Mental Health that holds centre stage.

I am the first to admit that this part of the NHS is desperately underfunded.  My heart goes out to those patients who genuinely need help, which they so often don’t get.  But I can’t help thinking that the NHS should take a look at all health services, and work out what is actually needed in the fairest way.


During cancer treatment, every medic seemed to ask me “do you want Counselling?”  I didn’t think so – what I needed was help sorting out problems, such as going blind in one eye from Tamoxifen (‘they’ weren’t as worried as I was); skin lesions that popped blood every time I turned over in bed;  osteoporosis – and all the other surprises one gets along the way.

Eventually I decided to give in – maybe I did need Counselling to help me sort out whom I needed to see.  So off I went to the Mental Health department and sank into the cheerful colours and plump cushions.

The NHS says Counselling can help cope with:

  1. a mental health condition, such as depressionanxiety or an eating disorder
  2. an upsetting physical health condition
  3. a difficult life event,
  4. other

My side effects definitely came under 2 and 3, so I lay back in the swing chair prepared to listen to the Mental Health expert, and learn what snd where I could get help.

Frankly, this was a total waste of mine and the highly-trained Counsellor’s time.  He was there to deal with patients with mental health problems, not to cope with someone whose doctors should have pointed me towards the care I needed.

But the Doctors treating me weren’t much help;  I had expected to get on with it, and work WITH my MDT (those people whom I never met, but who had full gossiping rights over my body). Instead, I began to feel I was involved in a ‘pass the parcel’ exercise, and Mental Health was just one of the options thrown at me to make me feel ‘wanted’.

There is no solution

Mental Health is a very serious problem.  But so often what we patients need is TLC from a nurse with enough time to LISTEN to our fears,  And from their experience offer advice – which could be hints and tips on dealing with nausea, what makes bedding more comfortable when we have night sweats, how to cope with our ever-recurring fear that cancer has come back, etc.

In my layman’s opinion, many of us cancer patients don’t have major mental problems.  What Cute Icon Set: Professional and Kindly Smiling Nurse : Stock Illustrationworries us are fairly simple problems, much better sorted out with old-fashioned TLC from a nurse.  But so often the NHS seems to look for ways of spending sparse funds, rather than settling on a simple but cost-effective solution.