Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2417

Our society is depressing - the level of care shouldn't be

The suicide of actor Robin Williams last week, like those of others suffering from severe depression, was really tragic.

Equally tragic is the lack of help available. People suffering from depression and other mental health illnesses have to wait weeks or even months for help from the NHS.

Then they may just get a short burst of cognitive behaviour therapy, when what they need is at least weekly support by a trained mental health expert.

The service is under-resourced and under-staffed. 

The whole NHS is under attack from cuts and privatisation, and mental health services bear the brunt. Currently there are very few if any spare mental health beds for people suffering with acute mental illnesses.

And many mental health trusts will only take in patients if they are sectioned. And that is a label that remains with them for life, in an age of mental health stigmatisation.

Mental health jobs have also been radically cut back and nursing roles downgraded to support staff.

There are now 3,640 fewer nurses and 213 fewer doctors than just two years ago—and funding has been cut by £253 million in 57 mental health trusts.

Robin Williams was rich and successful, and could still be so depressed that he ended his life. For many others, stress, poverty and unemployment can lead to depression.

These factors are on the increase with the nasty austerity measures of this government—and so is the suicide rate.

More children also have mental health needs. In Islington in north London the figure rose by 38 percent during the last year, with no funding.

This problem won’t go away until we change the society that drives people to depression.

But until then governments are refusing even to fund a public health service that can meet our physical and mental needs.

Shirley FranklinChair, Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition

Poisoned by profit

Toxic sludge flooded hundreds of square miles of forest and a major lake in Canada this month. This disaster could threaten drinking water.

A “tailings pond” used to store by-products of metal mining in British Colombia had burst. 

Mine bosses had been warned that the “pond”—a huge reservoir kept in only by a dyke—was not secure. But nothing was done.

Tar sands oil, which Canada has used to become an energy superpower, also creates tailings, and the danger of many more spills.

Businesses are out to make profit for a few and for a finite time. They have no concern for human health or the environment.

Katrina LawrieWigan

Act now for the climate 

The article on tipping points (Socialist Worker, 16 August) is a reminder that now is the time to act on climate change. 

We need to build mass movements that can stop governments basing energy policies on fossil fuels. 

People’s Climate Marches planned worldwide for 21 September are a start. Socialists should also build the Time to Act protest in London on 7 March 2015. 

Trade unionists can promote the new edition of our One Million Climate Jobs booklet due to launch at a conference in London on Saturday 20 September.

Ken Montague, secretary, Campaign against Climate Change trade union group

Easy exams? That's the least of our problems

I’m one of the many students getting A-Level results last week.

Universities have been struggling to fill a record number of open places available. Since fees were brought in, a lot of people are thinking university isn’t for them.

This doesn’t affect middle class students whose parents can pay, but working class students who can’t afford it.

Results are lower this year, and the right wing media are cheering that exams are supposedly getting harder. But their argument that exams were too easy is a load of shit.

Maybe it has more to do with the pressure from former education secretary Michael Gove’s reforms. 

Teachers are stressed out—I know a teacher who was driven to quit this year. Gove’s changes are making our education worse.

Lawrence HumberThe Wirral

Scots Asians need more than Salmond

Around 200 people came to a Scots Asians for Independence meeting in Edinburgh this month. They included first minister Alex Salmond, local trade unionists and people from the mosque.

Anum Kauser, of Muslim Friends of Labour Scotland, attacked Britain’s wars and Westminster’s scapegoating of immigrants.

Hamza Yousif blamed the Tories’ disgusting attack on the poor for the spread of food banks in Scotland.

The contradictions of the Scottish National Party (SNP) were glaring. 

It has pursued some progressive legislation, and made some promises from the platform about jobs and equality. It has also made cuts, and has a neoliberal basis for its programme.

Salmond talked about making Scotland attractive to big Chinese capital. He talked of reducing rates on small business as a sweetener for the supporters of the party who are petty bourgeois.

We need to expose these contradictions, raise international solidarity, and demand a socialist transformation of Scotland.

Ayesha SaleemEdinburgh

Zero fairness in zero hours

I work an average of 33 hours a week as a mental health support worker—and I don’t want to do any more. But I am on a zero hours contract.

I’ve told my employer I don’t want to work Saturdays and miss the chance to spend time with my granddaughter. 

I was told I don’t have a choice—I cannot be spared. Why the hell don’t they give me a proper contract then?

Name and address provided

Humans are what matters

People are being manipulated. Borders, flags and national anthems don’t matter. 

Religions, trademarks and currencies are all created by people. But in their name terror is inflicted on real humans. 

Governments and corporations get rich while millions die of hunger, disease and war. 

People are real. The rest is artificial. When will the world see this?

Graham ManleyLiverpool

Prison is not our problem

Your article about suicides in jail (Socialist Worker, 16 August) is the one area where my lefty sensibilities clash with those of many comrades.

Prison is not for the offender. It is to keep scum away from decent folk, and to give victims a small sense of justice.

Many people are in jail for crimes against the capitalist establishment. They shouldn’t be there.

But if you hurt or steal from fellow citizens you deserve a horrid time.

Rowan Goodfellow Debonaireon Facebook

Israel relies on the West

John Curtis asks if Israel could “go it alone” (Letters, 16 August).

The US gives Israel more than £2 billion of military aid a year. 

A quarter of Israel’s exports go to the US, much of it military technology that the US itself invested in. Israel cannot afford to lose this.

Israel is reliant on the US—and the US is still complicit in the slaughter of the Palestinians.

Nathan PettefarSouth East London

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Article information

Tue 19 Aug 2014, 19:36 BST
Issue No. 2417
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