Nearly everyone will experience it at some time in their lives so why does grief make us all so uncomfortable?
As someone who lost a parent at 17, I wouldn’t know what to say to someone going through the same thing most likely because there is very little that will help. We need to make huge strides to overcome this stigma but with mental health services dwindling in funds and availability, the government is only making this a bigger issue for society.
It’s no secret that there is a mental health crisis. The NHS is being pushed to its limits and waiting times for CBT as well as other forms of therapy are bordering on inhumane. During a time when people feel the most lost there are very few places to turn to. Those with a support network are the fortunate ones, although this isn’t a replacement for professional help, but those without any support deserve better than what society has to offer. Six months after I lost my Mum, I was told by a GP that the NHS doesn’t offer grief counselling. I was instead recommended to see what form of support my university offers. This is an option for some, but most universities only have the resources to offer a casual drop-in service with counsellors, this is nowhere near comprehensive enough for someone going through something as complex as grief.
The level of support currently available benefits those in a more financially secure position in-line with other Conservative policies. Not everyone has a job or is enrolled in education, and even if they are, they won’t necessarily have access to help. This is a service that needs to be available on the NHS and should be offered immediately to anyone who loses someone rather than leaving often vulnerable and scared people to reach out for it themselves. In 2017 spending on mental health services was cut by 4.5 million in Sefton, Scarborough, the Isle of White, St. Helens and Walsall. There are some provisions available for common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression but there needs to be more specific support for the complex causes, events and consequences of grief including anger, denial and shock.
Grief needs to be taken far more seriously by the government as it is essential that they understand and therefore act upon, the dire need for comprehensive counselling. Around 33 per cent of people who experience a loss have a depressive illness one month later and 15 per cent a year later. It takes a serious mental and physical toll on people and as a democratic society our government has a responsibility to ensure that the medical professionals trained to help, have the facilities to do so. With Brexit now well under way it is imperative that the NHS is protected at all costs. It is irreplaceable and needs to be adequately funded so that it doesn’t continue to struggle just to stay afloat.
There are charities and support services available which can help people struggling to get the help they need. This is an issue which needs nationwide government funding but local support groups as well as charities which raise money and awareness of fatal illnesses do incredible work too. Cruse Bereavement Care is an example of a service available across the country for those struggling with grief. People can also often get support from charities with a specific understanding of the illness relating to their grief including, ‘Papyrus’ — a suicide prevention charity, ‘Cancer Research’ and ‘The Brain Tumour Charity’ just to name a few.
Although charities may not have to capabilities to offer counselling, they can offer understanding and compassion as well as a way to connect with others who will also understand. Ultimately though, it is not the responsibility of the third sector to take on such a weighty amount of support. The NHS needs to be properly funded to save lives, including those of people affected by mental health issues brought on by grief. With another five years of Tory governance ahead, we as a society must do our best to ensure the protection of the NHS so that struggling people can be helped.