Today mental health charity Mind has warned that budget cuts have seen thousands of people with mental health needs denied social care support. Here Lee Brookes (pictured), who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006, explains how social care input made a critical difference to his health.
“I can come across as very articulate; I have owned and managed two businesses. On a surface level, it can seem like I’m OK, but I can often spend three weeks under my bed, hiding from the light. I’ve not washed for long periods of time, not changed my clothes for days, not done the dishes and not done any housework – all because I just can’t. Often people don’t understand that with mental health problems your needs can fluctuate like that.
“My social worker, Helen, understood that but I know that other people don’t. She visited me to talk about the things that I used to enjoy doing but I just didn’t feel well enough to do, like listening to music, reading, or exercising. As I would often feel very manic, she asked me what things I would like to do to calm me down. It was like having someone give your old life back to you.
“My care plan has had far reaching consequences, not just on my mental health but also on my physical health and my social life. I had put on a lot of weight as a side effect from the medication I was taking so part of the plan was for me to go to the gym and go walking every week. I also plotted out time to do housework, get further therapy, and develop my hobbies. Those weekly plans gave me some structure back.
“I’m still being supported by mental health services and there is no way that I’d be as healthy as I am now without social care.”