Ben Keyte, who has lived with mental health conditions for the last 20 years, is encouraging people to share their views about how NHS care should improve.
Mental health is one of the main focuses of the NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out how health services across the country need to improve. Better supporting children and young people’s mental health is a central aim of the plan, as is making more use of technology to help people manage their own mental health. In addition, the NHS will focus on how it can provide better care for new parents, at-risk groups, such as people experiencing homelessness, and those facing a mental health crisis.
Now it’s time for local people to have their say about the changes that would make the biggest difference to their communities.
41-year-old Ben first experienced mental health concerns in 2001 whilst at university. He was put on medication and has been through a cycle of recovery and relapse ever since. His symptoms have been so severe at times that he’s been unable to work.
“It’s quite hard for a man to talk about their personal issues and accept they have a problem,” says Ben, who volunteers with Healthwatch Gloucestershire.
“Even now, I still sometimes struggle to admit I have a mental health issue. If you can’t admit you have a problem, it is quite difficult to know where to go.
“Up until recently I kept getting dragged back into the doctors and wasn’t getting into a situation where I was recovering and getting off medication. They throw medication at you and expect you to get better. There’s not enough psychiatrists out there to help. The services have improved over the last couple of years for me and this is mainly due to having a better psychiatrist.
“I think I have been very lucky as I found the Independence Trust and the people at Cirencester Memorial have supported me. The 2gether Mental Health team suggested I took up volunteering at Healthwatch Gloucestershire and that has been a positive experience.
“I would encourage others to share their experiences of mental health services with their local Healthwatch, as the more people who leave feedback the greater chance there is of change.”