I am responding to the article ‘Oxford must improve its approach to mental health’ [28th November].
I am someone with a central diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which is arguably the most difficult to treat of all mental disorders. I can empathise with the author’s frustration at the mental health services provided by the NHS. My frustration, however, is a direct consequence of under-funding and is not directed at the doctors providing my care.
The author of the article relays a disheartening experience at the Jericho Health Centre, for which I was sorry to read. The Jericho Health Centre, specifically Dr. Leaver, oversees my care with a consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Merson. I owe my life to the care of Dr. Leaver, who took on my case following seven suicide attempts around a year and a half ago (not that I recommend waiting until such events to talk to a medical professional). Both Dr. Leaver and Dr. Merson have supported me and informed me in making my own decisions about my treatment. And I have flourished under their care. Moreover, I have found that Dr. Leaver’s Practice is integrated with my college (St. Anne’s) such that I have never experienced problems with requesting and obtaining extensions for my course.
I write this to you to encourage students facing mental health problems, whether diagnosed or not diagnosed, to see a medical professional. It saved my life. It is my opinion that the article to which I am responding will actively discourage students from accessing NHS services. The NHS is underfunded, especially compared to other developed countries like Canada, but in my experience the people working in the NHS here in Oxford are exceptional. I was a carer growing up and as such I co-ordinated the mental health care for a parent over a decade. I have met with over 15 medical professionals and none of them are as good as my GP or my psychiatrist in Oxford.
Finally, I am aware that Dr Leaver’s Practice both gives talks to incoming students explaining how to access services and collaborates with the Student Mind Ripple Campaign. This work is not funded by the NHS. These GPs go over and above what anyone would ask of them.
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