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Norwood man's plea for more mental health funding

Norwood man's plea for more mental health funding

Published at 6:25am 15th July 2020. (Updated at 1:38pm 16th July 2020)

A man from Norwood has written to the Health Secretary and his local MP - calling for more support for mental health.

  • Billy Reynard-Bowness has shared his experiences of using mental health services in Harrogate.
  • He's concerned that services will struggle to cope as lockdown is eased in the UK.
  • A recent survey from the mental health charity, Mind, showed a majority of adults say their mental health has got worse during the pandemic.

A man from Norwood has shared his experiences of living with mental health disorders in a letter to his local MP and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Billy Reynard-Bowness wrote to Julian Smith and Matt Hancock, asking them to prioritise mental health provisions as lockdown is eased in the UK.

In the letter, he shared his experiences of thanatophobia, a fear of death.

He says the condition shouldn't be confused with being scared of dead people, or a fear the pain of death. Instead the "finality of existence".

LISTEN: Billy shares his experiences of thanatophobia

Reading from his letter to Julian Smith MP and Matt Hancock MP, Billy told Stray FM what it's like to live with thanatophobia.

Listen to it here:

Billy reads from his letter to his MP and the Health Secretary.

In the letter, Billy writes about the impact coronavirus will have on people's mental health, and the subsequent impact on mental health services:

"For many people this may be the very first time they have contemplated their own mortality; thought about death seriously, or allowed deep seeded fears to poke through the surface.

"It may be many folks first experience of loss & grief. This may possibly have proven terrifying & overwhelming; triggering many new sufferers to seek help.

"New cases will present and existing cases may need increased support."

Billy set up a support group on Facebook for people suffering from thanatophobia, and says more people have joined it during the pandemic.

Click here to access the group, which he describes as "a platform for calm discussion between adults who live with existential angst."

Mental Health

"It was hell"

Billy told us about a crisis with his mental health in 2018, when his husband was forced to take him to hospital.

After a day waiting in Accident and Emergency, staff found him a psychiatric bed.

The closest one available was in Durham, a 150-mile round trip for his husband, Lee, to visit:

"It was hell for Lee to try and get up to see me. It was a 150-mile round trip after work.

"He ended up going off work with stress literally because I'd been sent so far from home.

"He couldn't work, look after the house, get up to see me and eat his dinner. There wasn't enough time in the day."

Mental health in schools
According to a recent survey from the mental health charity, Mind, the majority of adults say their mental health has got worse during lockdown.

Mental health and coronavirus in numbers

The mental health charity, Mind, recently published the results of a survey about the impact of coronavirus on mental health across the UK.

It found 60% of adults said their mental health got worse during lockdown.

More than a fifth of young people and adults who have no previous experience of mental health issues said their mental health during the pandemic was "poor" or "very poor".

It also found younger people are being affected more seriously.

If you're affected by any of the issues raised in this article, click here for a list of helplines you can call.

At the time of publishing, Billy hasn't heard anything back other than an automated response from Julian Smith MP. We also contacted his office and haven't heard anything.