5 Jul 2011

David Harrison - County, District and Town Councillor

In my day job, I'm very proud to work for the NHS. I'm involved in helping people overcome mental illness. I'm just a small part of a large team that helps our service users manage their illness. We work with them to assist them re-build their lives and cope with the stigma associated with mental health problems. Ideally, they will eventually live independent, fulfilling, lives out in the community.

Many of the people I have helped over the years have developed mental health problems through abuse of alcohol or have become unwell through the use of taking recreational drugs. As with so many health related issues, the old saying “prevention is so much better than cure”. Perhaps, there are people reading this now who are travelling down the same path. The answer is simply to seek out help now rather than to let things get worse.

Many of the people I now care for had allowed things to deteriorate to the point where they committted a serious criminal offence, resulting in a tragedy, causing utter misery for others and particularly themselves. Once in the mental health system it is sometimes a long time getting out again.

There have been many news stories about proposed changes to the NHS and it is still far from clear exactly what kind of service we will have in a few years time when all the dust settles. However, one thing that has not changed is the importance of the local GP (General Practioner).

In these days of economic hardship, people struggling to pay bills, wage cuts, job losses, lack of security and the like, I fully expect the numbers of people suffering from stress and depression to increase. The temptation to take refuge in the use of alcohol or recreational drugs will never be greater. For most people who find themselves developing problems, the GP will be the first port of call. He or she will be able to refer you on to specialist advice or treatment.

I have just taken a stress test which is available on the BBC website. After answering all the questions, I wasn't unduly surprised to learn that I am moderately stressed, (no doubt due to my very busy lifestyle). My own favorite therapy is taking time out for a walk or bird watching in the New Forest. Different things work for different folks.

In the past 50 years, society in this part of the world has changed to a remarkable extent. Some things for the better, some not so good. It is certainly a lot easier to get stressed out than it ever used to be and it isn't the high flying executives and business people who suffer the worst health problems as a result. It's those of us who have limited control over how we lead our lives. I bet that's something that the health professionals who insist we must have fluoride in our tap water haven't even considered.

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