Young people and mental illness

I have spoken before about how dreadful the situation is for young people who suffer mental illness. During my month in hospital in April 2013 I observed a very young girl in deep depression who rarely left her bed. One day she had visitors and spent much time that evening sorting through her bags. It was good to hear the rustling as it indicated she was actually doing something. My immediate thought with a young girl is that she has probably been badly let down in a relationship.

When I heard of the girl in Torbay who was put in a police cell in November I was, along with many others, horrified. Social media comment was fierce and has brought results. I am pleased to read in the Guardian this Tuesday 16th December that Theresa May is setting out legislation that will prevent this happening in future. I am not sure where vulnerable young people will be held but if large companies can put up a shop building quickly I am sure the NHS can do something similar. After all, a secure unit only needs one main door (plus fire exits of course). There are unused buildings, deserted buildings on hospital sites and many other places which could be converted to make for more mental health beds. We need them badly as there is more depression these days and the need is great. It surely must be possible for buildings to be quickly converted. Let’s hope the Government does not sit on this as they have with so many of their plans which fail to come to fruition. Believe me, David Cameron, we will remember you at the next election.

Whether this legislation would help my sister when she becomes unmanageable is not clear, as reading between the lines it would appear that some mentally ill people will still have to be held in police cells temporarily if they need to be held for their own and others’ safety. I still feel that a profoundly deaf and very sick woman should not be restrained in cells and in handcuffs. I would wish that paramedics could deal with such a situation and an emergency doctor could administer some tranquilising medication.

Let’s hope the treatment of the mentally ill improves as a result of this latest government initiative.


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