When I got involved in the campaign to improve mental health treatment, I already had a little experience of starting a petition.
It was a few months ago, I found a petition from a serving police officer who wanted the Government to consider an emergency service specifically for Mental Health:
Consider a Nationalised, funded Mental Health First Response Service.
UK Police Forces and NHS services now spend around 30% of their time responding to Mental Health sufferers who do not receive the best attention or assistance. A MH Service that are the first responders to Suicide risks and Sectioning requests, who can convey MH Patients to the correct facilities.
Working in the Police, it is being increasingly more and more difficult to tackle Crime and deal with Community issues, when every 3 or 4 of 10 incidents we are responding to are for Mental Health patients that require specialised help that we cannot provide.
This is tying up Emergency resourcing that can be better used elsewhere, and would provide MH patients with the best care and help possible.
Sectioning people and attending Suicide Risks would be better dealt by more a appropriate agency
This struck a chord with me. I had recently been feeling very unwell and on the verge of crisis. I had a telephone number for a crisis team attached to my local Mental Health Trust, but I didn’t have a positive opinion of the service based on the one occasion I had tried to use it. I thought this proposal to dial 999 was a good idea and signed the petition.
Then I found myself discussing petitions with friends, spoke about this one for an emergency service, and in the course of the discussion developed the idea a little further. I decided that “consider” was not enough. I wanted it to happen. Looking in to the pros and cons of the idea would be part of the process, surely? A friend’s daughter works for a Lobbying organisation and I was encouraged to start a new petition.
So here it is:
To: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Mental health emergency service
I shared it with my friends, added information backing up why it was needed and emailed some charities in the hope they would support it or comment on the feasibility of the idea.
I have had doubts as to where the money and the extra personnel needed would come from. The emergency services seem to be overstretched as it is. But if you don’t ask you don’t get!
So when this new initiative to improve mental health services was first broached, I thought yes, I can help. The difference would be that this time I wouldn’t be on my own, there would be a group of us all striving towards the same goal. People who can offer encouragement, advice, knowledge and ideas.
Which brings us to now. Emails have been sent, a Facebook page has been set up (and has been noticed). This website has been created and has been noticed, not only in the UK but also America, China, Spain and Ireland. We have had lots of encouraging comments about people wanting to help and get involved.
But there is a lot of work still to do. There are probably thousands of petitions out there, all vying for the public’s attention and support. Somehow we have to make ours stand out.
We are still fine tuning the details of the petition, but will share it here as soon as it is up and running.
As an end note, if anyone knows the person who started the petition that inspired mine, I would love to get in touch.