Here at AADD-UK we avidly followed the news about mental health issues during Mental Health Awareness Week. We admired the bravery of those telling their own stories, we retweeted some general mental health links instead of those that only dealt directly with ADHD, all the while preparing for our 10th Year Anniversary by revamping our website. Then suddenly we realised we’d forgotten the elephant in our own parlour! So we decided to write, just before the week ended, our own position for Mental Health Awareness Week.. Here it is:
First, we thanked the Mental Health Foundation for hosting the week, and thanked them for commissioning the survey and consequent report “Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK’s mental health.” The authors of the report wrote that despite “many areas of advances in human health we are not seeing these reflected in mental health. If anything, the signs are that we are slipping back.” They backed this up by shockingly disclosing that only 13% of those surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales had “high positive mental health” and that nearly “two-thirds of people say that they have experienced a mental health problem” and others were clearly “just about surviving.”
The authors further reported that those of us living with either low household incomes or unemployment have worse mental health than those employed at higher incomes. 3 in 4 people at the lowest income level, 85% of unemployed people, 7 in every 10 women, 7 in every 10 young adults (aged 18-34), and 7 in 10 people living alone experienced poor mental health. Additionally, the authors quoted the “Mental Health and Wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014” (published last year) which revealed that every week 1 in 6 adults experienced a “common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression. 1 in 5 adults reported that they had considered taking their own life at some point.”
I sat in silence and reflected upon those numbers and felt an overwhelming sadness. So much unnoticed desperation and despair! Swiftly followed by anger; “Who can I blame?” “Where shall I point my finger?” You see, all this correlated almost exactly with our own experiences in the ADHD world.
It’s been almost 10 years since we set up AADD-UK with hope and optimism. During that 10 years, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published ADHD Guidelines in which adults were included for the first time. Of course there was some initial resistance but over the years more and more professionals became interested, more and more moved into the field, more and more research confirmed ADHD as valid (even the usual tabloid suspects now, tentatively, report positive ADHD stories) and there are more ADHD services in the UK than the 3 that existed 10 years ago.
But all is not well! As awareness of ADHD grows, funding for ADHD services dwindles. Some GP’s, due to funding shortages, are reluctant to refer us to services. In truth, not all of the ADHD services have enough funding to meet the NICE Guidelines. It’s even been suggested, in one known circumstance, that the Guidelines be disregarded. A couple of services have surreptitiously tried to close. Some have decided not to publicise their contact details for fear they’ll get more referrals than allowed for by their funding. Of course, this means that waiting lists are getting longer and longer; even up to 2 years long! It’s true that gate keepers and sign posters cheerily point us to psychological therapies suggesting we use them while waiting. But guess what? Yep that’s right! We’re shuffled onto the end of another waiting list where some of us must try not to listen to whispers about the low quality of the offerings. So, there we are, stuck waiting, struggling to cope with abysmally low self-esteem, hurting, lonely, barely surviving. What does this matter when it’s said that ADHD makes us resilient, that we’re used to hard knocks, that we’re survivors? It matters because we understand too well that surviving is not thriving and that knowledge is painful!
And what about those of us who’ve been diagnosed and are taking medication? We’re all thriving right? Well not exactly. Medication is indeed all that some of us need. We can now concentrate as well as focus better. That helps us to, at last, move on and up. It helps us to feel relief as well as feel the joy of achievement. Some of us can even choose between seeing a consultant privately for follow-ups or waiting months to see the same consultant on the NHS. There’s a group of us too who, after a competent diagnosis of ADHD, don’t need any further help, not even medication. It’s enough that somebody listened, took us seriously, evaluated patterns underlying our difficulties, and found a way to help us understand. That’s all we needed to find our own way, to thrive and flourish.
Some of us, though, have been so pressured and battered by an uncomprehending and stigmatising life that the clarity that comes with medication also carries the aching revelation that our graceful childhood spirits have turned into cut-down and subjugated ghosts. Taking the right medication is not all we need. Before we can move from surviving to thriving we need help, we need to rediscover our true spirits, our real potential. Yet we’re stuck in the low income, or underemployed, or unemployed bracket. So we ask the NHS for help, get sign posted to psychological therapies, by the same cheery folk our clan members encountered, and off we shuffle to join the end of a waiting list. There we are waiting, masks firmly in place (we don’t want pity), acting as if we don’t care but feeling worn-out, inside crying, mourning for our lost and trusting childhood. We’re surviving and that’s all!
Still, at least the mere fact that we’re waiting allows us a bit more hope than those of us who’ve not been noticed. Some of us in this group are being shuffled from one wrong diagnosis to another wrong diagnosis, from one wrong medicine to another wrong medicine. Never having our true reality heard or acknowledged. Some of us become disheartened, lose faith and sink into helplessness. And then what about those of us who learn to believe from early on that we are seemingly born to live life as a failure, never understanding why that appears to be our fate? All of us too are barely surviving!
It’s such a waste because every single one of us with ADHD has the potential to flourish. We would love to use our strengths and abilities to help others, to be a benefit. We don’t need much. Just the right attention and the right support at the right time. Actually you know what? That’s not hard to provide!
Now I’m angry again so I’m jumping right off the fence and pointing my finger squarely at you, the Government. I’m pointing at you, Theresa May, as well as at you, Jeremy Hunt. If you get back in charge, for goodness sake stop with your wasteful changing, privatising and building inequality into the health service. Instead, if you really care about helping people to thrive, helping the country to prosper (you do, don’t you?), stand back and for once look at the big picture.
The prevalence rate for children with ADHD is between 5 to 7%, of whom approximately 65% will continue to experience symptoms in adulthood. In other words, roughly 3% to 4% of all adults have ADHD. To make it clearer, about 1 in 25 adults have ADHD. That’s a lot of us! That’s a lot of us costing you a lot of money!
Leaving us unrecognised, undiagnosed, untreated or treated ineffectively, or pushing us onto waiting lists is costing you, the Government, a lot of money in lost tax revenue, inappropriate treatments, repeat visits to A&E, clearing up after our accidents, looking after our brothers and sisters in prisons, and so on and so on (you want evidence, ask and we’ll give it freely). It’s cheaper, far cheaper, to increase NHS mental health funding so that all of us can receive proper help! We want to use our strengths, abilities and skills. We can use them to thrive and flourish!
And here’s a final note, the need for mental health awareness and funding did not disappear with the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. The two thirds of people living in England, Scotland and Wales who’ve experienced mental health problems, including all of us with ADHD, are still here on Monday morning. Funding and treatment for everybody experiencing mental ill health is still needed and is still vital. With that, and with preventative care, all of us will thrive and flourish and so too will the country.
I’ve had my say for now! It’s time for you, the Government (whichever of you ends up in charge) to listen and act!
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) will host its 7th Congress from Thursday 21st to Saturday 23rd September 2017 at the Mermaid Conference and Events Centre in London.
The title of this conference, ADHD in the Mainstream, reflects the increase in recognition and treatment of ADHD by adult mental health services. But despite the fact that ADHD is a common disorder, and despite the fact that the role that ADHD plays in the health of many adults presenting with mental health problems is more recognised, recent evidence suggests that the disorder is still being unrecognised or untreated for many adults using mental health services. Since there is considerable psychiatric morbidity associated with ADHD, this lack of full recognition leads to unnecessary distress to individuals, ineffective targeting of treatments, poor control over chronic mental health problems and the development of adult onset disorders later in life.
Licensed drug treatments for adult ADHD are now available for the first time, including both stimulant and non-stimulant mediation and recommendations from guideline groups such as the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The importance of concurrent psychological treatments is also recognised.
Mainstream psychological treatment services need to develop the understanding and skills required to manage mental health problems related to ADHD. This conference, therefore, is designed to raise the level of awareness, knowledge and expertise among health care professionals about people with ADHD and to provide a better understanding of the persistence of the disorder, the development of comorbid mental health problems as well as the delivery of effective treatments.
This conference is relevant for all health care professionals interested in the mental health of people from the adolescent years through to early, middle and later adult life.
The program will be delivered by prominent opinion leaders, clinical experts and internationally recognised investigators and is designed to cover key topics relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD from adolescence to early and late adulthood. The selection of speakers is particular important so that the audience can hear directly from the most experienced professionals working in this rapidly developing area of clinical psychiatry.
The Scientific Programme, list of speaker, and registration information are all available on UKAAN’s website here https://www.ukaan.org/adhd-in-the-mainstream/
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) will host its 6th Congress from Wed 20th to Fri 22nd September 2017. This 3 day conference will take place at the Mermaid Conference and Events Centre, which will accommodate up to 600 delegates in a Theatre. The venue is situated between the City and the West End, on the North Bank of the Thames, and enjoys spectacular views towards the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge.
The conference is titled ‘ADHD in the mainstream’ to reflect the rapid increase in recognition and treatment of ADHD by adult mental health services. ADHD is a common disorder effecting around 5% of children and 3% of adults, with symptoms and impairments that overlap with other common mental health disorders. The role that ADHD plays in the health of many adults presenting with mental health problems is now much more widely recognised, yet recent evidence suggests that in many cases the disorder still goes unrecognised or treated. Our vision is to bring ADHD into the mainstream, so that all mental health professionals have the knowledge and understanding to diagnose and treat ADHD, in the same way as other common mental health disorders.
This meeting aims to raise the level of awareness, knowledge and expertise among health care professionals about people with ADHD and provide a better understanding of the persistence of the disorder, the development of comorbid mental health problems and the delivery of effective treatments.
The program will be delivered by prominent opinion leaders, clinical experts and internationally recognised investigators and is designed to cover key topics relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD from adolescence to early and late adulthood. The selection of speakers is particularly important so that the audience can hear directly from the most experienced professionals working in this rapidly developing area of clinical psychiatry.
Registration is now open on the UKAAN Website http://www.ukaan.org/adhd-in-the-mainstream/
Please help us with a study from the University of Exeter. The project is about children and young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in transition between children’s services and adult services.
One piece of the project, however, is a mapping survey designed to find out which adult ADHD services are out there for young people with ADHD aged 18 and over to transition into from children’s services. This means that this survey can be answered by any person of any age who has knowledge of ADHD services, whether they have ADHD themselves or not and whether they are a parent/carer or not.
If you click on this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CATCh-uS_SU you will be guided to a page where you can tell the researchers about adult ADHD services in your area – or equally important the lack of adult services. The online questionnaire asks no more than 8 questions and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
The survey is anonymous and your response will contribute to the creation of a map detailing adult ADHD services currently available in the UK. If you want more information about the project, the research team have a website where you can find more information: http://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/catchus/mapping/
Thank you very much for helping us with this project.
AADD-UK has received permission from Mike Birtwistle, Head of MHP Health, to reproduce his analysis as to how the Health and Social Care Bill is now set to become an Act, barring any last-minute dramatic revelations. We asked for Mike’s permission because his analysis helps us to understand how these reforms might impact our access to assessments, diagnosis, and treatment for ADHD, and also helps us to figure out how we can address impacts resulting from these reforms.
Close to an Act: how did the Health and Social Care Bill get passed?
Submitted by Mike Birtwistle on 20-03-2012
It’s all over, bar some (more) shouting. The Health and Social Care Bill is nearly law but, after hundreds of hours of debate, thousands of amendments and countless controversies, what will it actually mean? And how on earth did it ever get passed?
Theoretically the Queen could decline to give Royal Assent to the Bill, as Unite suggested last week. However, barring any constitutional outrages or last minute shocks in the Commons, it will become an Act. And the Health and Social Care Act will represent one of the longest and most complex items of health legislation ever known. That it passed through a hung Parliament, in the teeth of such controversy is no small feat.
For better or worse, the Act will represent one of the most profound pieces of reforming legislation ever (alongside the Attlee reforms of the 1940s and some of the market reforms of the last Conservative Government). I believe all three sets of reforms have problems, but the scope of their impact and ambition is undeniable. Continue reading
The UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN) will hold the 3rd Congress on the 29th June 2012. The theme will be ‘Transition of ADHD from Adolescence to Adulthood’. The conference will be located in Central London at Savoy Place, 2 Savoy Place, City of London WC2R 0BL
The congress aims to bring important topics on transition in ADHD to a wider audience. The scientific program will include five main sessions, with a panel and audience discussion
Clinical services for ADHD during the transition years from adolescence to adulthood and for those newly diagnosed as adults are developing rapidly. This meeting will address important clinical and scientific questions relating to ADHD and will be relevant to anyone interested in the mental health of people from the adolescent years through to early, middle and later adult life.
For more information and registration details for this important conference please go to the UKAAN website.
Brighton Adult ADHD Group has been invited to contribute directly to a new cross-government disability strategy. The Government has published a discussion document with questions and Brighton Adult ADHD Group wants to gather your views, to make sure we represent the experiences of people with ADHD in Sussex.
To share your views please come to our discussion event. We will have a speaker from the Office for Disability Issues.
Date: Wednesday 7th March
Time: 18.30 – 20.00
Location: The Brunswick Room, The Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD
Light refreshments will be provided
For further information please contact Caroline Williams on 01403 733931
We want to talk about practical ideas that will make a real difference to your life. The Government has asked us to focus on three areas:
We have made a questionnaire with questions relating to each area that can be downloaded here. It would be helpful if you could fill in your responses before coming to the meeting, and bring them with you. If you are unable to attend the meeting, please email your responses as soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will send a report of our event to the Government. They will look at everyone’s suggestions and work with disabled people to publish a new strategy later this year.
If you want to find out more visit www.odi.gov.uk/fulfillingpotential
AADD-UK has not yet received an official response to our letter (see previous post on this subject) regarding the actions taken by NHS Trusts and Commissioning Groups in Cambridgeshire which restrict access to NICE recommended treatments for people who are diagnosed as adults with ADHD. However, we notice that the new low priority policy for ADHD has been removed from the website for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Public Health Network and has been replaced by the words “Please note this policy has been temporarily withdrawn.” You can read this for yourself here.
Now we do realise that this removal could just be coincidence, and may or may not be a good sign. But Cambridgeshire County Council, who also received a copy of our letter, has made a very positive move. The Council’s “Adults Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee” has listed under Agenda Item 7a (for their meeting on 8 February 2012) in “Committee priorities and work programme 2011/12” the following: “Provision of medication for adults with ADHD: The Chairman has received representations from individuals with ADHD on this issue. It is proposed that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, with the support of the Scrutiny and Improvement Officer, follows this up with NHS Cambridgeshire.”
Well done and a big AADD-UK Thank You to Councillor Kevin Reynold, the Chairman of the Committee!
The meeting of the Adults Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee is open to the public so if you live in Cambridgeshire and have been affected by the low priority policy do please go to the meeting. The meeting is on Wednesday 8 February 2012 at 2:30 PM in the Kreis Viersen Room, Shire Hall, Cambridge. More details are available on their website here.
And again, Thank You Councillor Reynold!