Current Affairs, Original Writing

Mental vs Physical Health

I was reading up on the law recently (as one does in their free time, of course) and something struck me as particularly concerning.

Context: I was looking to apply for my student loan for this September when I visited the Disability Allowance section. I have no physical disability (minus asthma but I don’t really consider that a disability in the scheme of things) but I wondered if suffering from mental health conditions qualified as a disability in the eyes of the law and if it did, to what extent?

Here’s the tricky part; it does. Kind of. From studying law at college, I remember how important it is to pay close attention to the use of particular diction in legislation. For example, the Equality Act 2010 specifically states that a disabled person must “have an impairment that is either physical or mental… must have adverse effects which are substantial, long-term and affects normal day-to-day activities.” If all factors stated above are met, the person is thereby classified as disabled, legally. But what is classified as an “impairment?” Can mild forms of mental health conditions still be classified as impairments?

The issue I have with this legislation is that there is an awful lot of grey area with regards to what can be classified as a disability and where the line is drawn between disability and an “impairment” which does not warrant the term disability. Usually, an act will define its own terms. For example, they’ll say something along the lines of “used in its ordinary meaning.” However, there is an element of subjectiveness and discretion in this act. Nevertheless, there is very little subjectiveness associated with physical disability. In the act, examples are given of where there should be no deliberation over disability; specifically, an obese woman who has trouble breathing because she’s overweight. The law  points out that the reason behind her breathing difficulties (her obesity) should NOT be referenced. She is automatically classified as disabled, due to her breathing problems. Fair enough.

However, when looking into the mental health aspect of this law, I came across a sticking point. As per the act, in order to be classified as disabled, one’s “impairment” must affect one’s daily life as well as being a long-term condition. In particular, the act uses an example of social anxiety and panic attacks; it states that if a person’s anxiety is so severe that it warrants having to travel at certain times of the day to avoid the rush hour then yes, they are classified as disabled. However, if one doesn’t need to make changes, to their routine for example, in accordance to their condition, it is not classified as an impairment, nor is it classified as debilitating enough to warrant the term “disability.”

This stood out to be as considerably worrying due to the high percentage of people who suffer from mental health conditions in silence because they’ve known nothing else. For sufferers of severe mental health conditions, there are certain requirements within the field of treatment which contribute to their condition being a disability. But what about those who suffer from mild anxiety, mild social anxiety, mild depression etc? Where do they stand in the eyes of the law? Where do I stand, someone who is still overcoming their health condition day by day, without altering anything in their routine?

Ultimately, this all comes down to the fact that mental and physical health will never be treated equally. Ironic, considering the name of the above act. The act states that cancer and HIV are automatically classed as a disability (rightly so) thereby reiterating a distinction and distinct lack of equality between mental and physical health. There should not be any grey area in the law regarding mental health, if there is no element of subjectivity for physical disabilities. That is unfair not to mention unequal. Until schizophrenia is treated with the same importance as cancer, we will be stuck in a unequal society, trapped by the stigmatisation of mental health.

A x

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Current Affairs

Save Our NHS: Fight the Junior Contract

I’m both saddened and appalled at the strikes going ahead over the next few weeks, but I support the junior doctors in their decision because I hope it serves as a wake up call to this blindly ignorant government.

Although this isn’t the first strike to take place over working hours, it’s shocking to see the government’s utter nonchalance at this whole situation, with Hunt instead referring to those striking as “trade union militants.” Junior doctors are striking against unjustifiable hours, and rightly so.

Three years ago, I held most junior doctors in utter contempt simply because of my experience in an NHS hospital which left me in an increasingly worrying state of health, both physically and mentally. The doctors I came across were completely unexperienced and out of their depth when they came to me, primarily because my body was rejecting all medication and they were at a loss as how to treat me. However, with 2015 being the year which saw my accident and emergency admissions at an all time high, I’ve come to realise that my experience three years ago was fundamentally due to the hospital and certainly isn’t an accurate representation of junior doctors over the country. They sacrifice everything for us and we tend to forget that a free health service is a luxury in many senses; free services, 24 hour emergency rooms, surgical intervention being free. Of course, there’s many downsides to the NHS which can be inferred as counteractive but the fact that these people are working day and night to help us is something we cannot and should not take for granted.

Hunt, along with the rest of this pathetically useless government, are dissuading the public from supporting the doctor’s strike by claiming harm will come to those with pre-booked appointments, particularly the elderly and cancer patients etc. Bullshit. The appointments have not been cancelled, they’ve been rebooked for a later date. If the patients were in such grave danger, surely they’d be admitted into hospital and be under the care of surgeons, registrars and senior consultants? Outpatient appointments have been affected but this is not the end of the world. It’s really not that big of deal compared to what these doctors endure daily. If we had even an inkling of what their schedules must be like, we’d hardly be kicking up a fuss and Hunt’s position would most definitely change. It’s very easy to criticise a strike when you won’t be remotely affected by the consequences of your own actions.

Hunt also claims that the lives of the public will be put in danger, but he’s failing to register, or possibly ignoring, the fact that lives will be in danger with overtired doctors. They’re more likely to make a mistake if they’re unsafely overworked. This kind of gross ignorance sums up the government. Surgeons, nurses, doctors, they’re all working incomprehensible hours out of their own goodwill, and a disregard for this is inhumane.

If anyone is to be blamed over this walkout, it’s David Cameron and his NHS cuts. The only people “damaging” patients’ health is this government.

I support the junior doctors, and their decision to oppose a cut in pay as well as overworking to the point of disregard for their own health.

#SaveOurNHS

#JuniorDoctorStrike

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Current Affairs, Original Writing

Panorama: 26th October 2015 – Britain’s Mental Health Crisis

After watching Panorama’s recent documentary tonight, I’m absolutely appalled at the state of mental health care. Of course, this is not the first reminder of the terrible state the government cuts have reduced the trusts to, but it’s an imperative reminder to all of us that we need to raise awareness for those vulnerable citizens silenced by their psychological disorders.

Firstly, the assessment of those “less ill” to free more beds for furthermore patients. Sickening. A patient who had the intention of committing suicide at a train station shouldn’t be “assessed” on whether or not they’re worthy of a bed: this is nonnegotiable. Vulnerable citizens are silenced due to their psychological conditions which is the most shameful fact of all. I’ve said this before in my last post regarding mental health and I’ll say it again: a cancer patient, or a terminally ill patient, will not be refused a bed, neither will they be “assessed” on how unwell they are. They’d be given a bed as soon as possible, with the professionals working as hard as they can to get them on the road to recovery, or at least to make sure they’re not suffering as much. Why aren’t mental health patients treated with this urgency?

How can patients, who are assessed to be suffering from their health conditions to a great extent, but not as great as other patients, say suicidal, be cast out into the community with no social help or support system to rely on if they relapse? Where’s the security that they’ll be helped if they ever feel vulnerable or have a bad day? This isn’t just a disgrace, it’s an atrocity and complete disregard for mental health sufferers.

Fundamentally, patients are judged on their suffering. As someone who’s been rushed to Accident and Emergency 11 times over the past two years with multiple health conditions, I know that patients are assessed on how much pain they’re in. The more pain you’re in, the quicker you are treated. As a sufferer of anxiety which almost crippled me to not leaving my house for weeks on end, my parents and I felt I had no choice but to receive private help as my condition was too serious to be thrown onto a waiting list. Which could take months. This is where the problem lies, and where it will continue to lie until the stigma attached to mental health has dissolved. Most of us cannot afford private healthcare, let alone private mental healthcare. How can the government expect a patient to pay £1000 a day to receive help and support which needs to be offered free, and is easily accessible?

I urge as many of you as possible to sign the petition below, which, if 100,000 signatures are received, the parliament will be obliged to take action and debate the bed crisis.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/109889

This is an increasingly concerning situation and we are all ambassadors for those in need of our support and help. Together we can make a difference, and we will.

A x

PS: Follow my twitter @_anisahhamid for more tweets regarding this.

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Current Affairs

“Assisted dying” or “assisted killing?”

I’m incredibly disappointed to learn that 330 MPs rejected the idea of allowing a terminally ill patient to end their lives with medical supervision, despite many doctors agreeing to administer the drugs and take part in it.

I understand the cons of the bill; the possibility of vulnerable patients being exploited by their families and pushed to end their lives. That patients may feel the need to end their own life to stop the misery and pain of their loved ones. I get that. However, I am of the opinion that those 330 MPs acted with complete selfishness and possible religious bias.

I am not terminally ill, so I cannot speak for those who are. I also strongly oppose the categorisation of people who qualify for the ‘right to die’ – those who only have 6 months to live. What about everyone else? What about those who have been suffering from constant pain for months and even years on end? What about those with absolutely no quality of life? According to the Guardian, “one in five people who travel to Switzerland for assisted-dying are from the United Kingdom.” Surely the statistics speak for themselves?

I’ve watched and read a fair few interviews with people who suffer from motor neurone disease and their biggest fears were living a life of complete paralysis, wheelchair bound and in pain without the ability to speak coherently and express their distress. For MPs to deny these people that right to me, is a complete failure of morality within the establishment of law-making.

Another obstacle in this debate is the concept of religion. In many religions such as my own, it is forbidden to take one’s own life. Full stop. There are no ifs, no buts; just no. I understand that life is precious and a gift; we only get one and we ought to do all we can to preserve it. But I will never understand the point in living if there’s nothing to live for because an illness or health condition is prohibiting you from doing so, and instead you’re sentenced to a life of pain and misery.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the end of the debate on assisted dying. We ought to give these people a chance to do as they please with their own lives, as they’re the ones living it. Not us. For authoritative figures to simply dismiss this chance in the name of “ethics” is simply incomprehensible and morally unacceptable.

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Original Writing

Hacking Scandals

There’s nothing more aggravating than the increase of hacking scandals in this day and age.

It sickens me that these pathetic criminals are imposing fear and control over society by means of exposure and fraud, yet the government does so little to prevent this and help put an end to this ridiculous crime. Just because a criminal is working online, does not mean he is any less of a criminal. When was the last time you heard of a hacker being jailed recently?

With the leaks on iCloud so fresh in our minds, the government have taken a very obvious back seat in attempting to find these criminals. Now with cloning scandals taking place from abroad, more needs to be done now than ever.

Action needs to be taken now. Society should not be condemned to fear.

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