The Importance of Early Intervention

I often wonder what my life would be like now if I’d received the help straight away…maybe I would be recovered and free.

Imagine this: For months you’ve felt horrendous, strugged to get through the day and engaged in self-destructive behaviours in order to cope. You are hopeless and inches away from throwing the towel in and so you make an appointment with your GP and it’s a small glimmer of hope even though it is weeks away. You feel sick with nerves on the morning of the appointment but you need help and you are prepared to tolerate the anxiety around the appointment. You walk up to the surgery and sit in the waiting room silently. Part of you wants to walk straight out the door but you don’t. Your name is called and you walk into the doctor’s room and explain what it wrong whilst your hands shake and your eyes sting as you hold back the tears. You leave the surgery with an appointment card in your hand to see the same doctor in 4 weeks time. That is all he gave you.

This is a scenario that is happening far too often in the UK. Early intervention for mental health problems is not always possible because some individuals may not seek help. However there are circumstances where people do seek help in the first weeks, months or year of their illness and are turned away. This should not be happening. The longer a problem goes on then the harder it is to fix and the longer it takes. It’s the same with physical illness, if cancer is found and treated early then the chances of survival are much higher. I think that when it comes to mental illness sometimes severity can be due to the length of the illness. Say if someone who may be considered to have a mild to moderate mental health condition is left for two years with no treatment then it is likely that mental health condition could become severe.

Something more important than money is human life. If we were to have early intervention for mental health problems it would save lives. I dread to think how many people have taken their lives after asking for help and not getting it. I know lack of support and no hope in mental health services contributed to me attempting to take my life. These lives aren’t just people with mental health problems, they are people who are capable of writing the next bestseller, becoming surgeons and saving your life, paramedics, scientists finding cures for cancer. A person with suicidal thoughts may think that their life has no hope but that is because they are unwell. Their lives have so much potential and who knows what difference they could make to your life if they were given the life saving help that they asked for.

Financially it would be a good investment to provide prompt early intervention to those that present with mental health problems. If early intervention does not happen then hospital admissions, crisis services, emergency services, mental health act assessments, medication and long term treatment are often needed and that’s just for one individual. For a fraction of that cost early intervention could’ve been provided.

Early intervention is incredibly important. We are talking about human beings here. I often wonder what my life would be like now if it hadn’t taken over a decade to get the help I needed. I might have graduated university or be in a theatre company. I might still be teaching 5-8 year old children how to bake cakes and dance. Maybe I would have my own home and be in full time employment. I was always a dreamer, I always aimed high and worked to get where I wanted to be in life but mental illness stole that all away and mental health services watched me slip through the net until I had to be detained under the mental health act and required a lot of treatment. I am not a one off, I am one of thousands of people that have reached out for help and been turned away.

Early intervention saves lives, saves money and changes lives.

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6 thoughts on “The Importance of Early Intervention

  1. I found myself turning into a nodding dog reading this post. Everything you say is so true and the ‘powers that be’ need to read what you’ve said in order for change to start to happen for early intervention to occur. Maybe then we’d all be recovered and free…X

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  2. I agree, I also believe that they have to provide a transition between child and adult services.

    I was put under child mental health services aged nine, I stayed with the same psychologist until I was sixteen, at which time they said I would fall under the adult team and I was discharged. It took me until I was 25 to convince a GP to make that referral despite child MH services having originally said I needed it! Almost ten years, by which time my life had completely dissolved around me. I was even admitted to A&E during this period on multiple occasions and not even seen by on-call or crisis psych teams just physically “patched up” and sent home.

    Once I did convince a GP to refer me, it took 9 months for the appointment to come through. By which time I had lost my job, my flat, everything!

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  3. Totally agree! I was lucky that I was under CAMHS within a few days of being referred but I never received (as they never had) specialist Eating disorder treatment. I honestly think that had I recieved that back when I was 10, I may well have been fully recovered very quickly

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