Letter: Help mentally ill out of ghetto

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The Independent Online
Help mentally ill out of ghetto

Sir: At last, a sympathetic and unprejudiced analysis of the crisis of mental health provision in this country (leading article, 5 February).

I am a student, and I also happen to be mentally ill. I am distressed by the almost entirely negative approach of the press. Coverage is biased towards the infrequent violent cases, personal accounts of sufferers are rarely published, and local newspapers are reluctant to publicise horrendously long waiting-list times.

I have had the "luck" to be able to compare the services in three countries: Egypt, Germany and Britain. My experiences and research lead me to agree with your diagnosis. There are cases of depressed children and teenagers in our inner cities who, even after they have attempted suicide, have been put on a three-month waiting list to see a psychiatrist. Some do not survive until their first appointment.

I am living in a grey world of fear, which is haunted by unwanted spectres and thoughts. And I am not alone. Many other people in similar and worse positions than me are feeling ghettoised and stigmatised by society. What we need is a full, frank and empathetic discussion about the chronic underfunding in the mental health sector.