The murder of a 60 year old U.S. citizen on the streets of London is another indicator of how mental health issues are increasingly found to be at the heart of frenzied attacks.
However, it is important to clarify and note that the vast and overwhelming majority of individuals who suffer mental health issues are not and will never be a threat to anyone. If anything, some will be a threat to themselves and people suffering mental heath issues should not be viewed through the prism of being potentially violent or dangerous. Furthermore, there are varying degrees of mental health issues from anxiety through to more long term and more complex issues such as schizophrenia.
Yet, what is important to state is that mental health service provision has become more shambolic since the huge cuts in public services. Waiting times for treatment have increased and with little or no support for people with mental health issues and there is less resource for voluntary sector organisations to step in to support the most vulnerable in society. Also, NHS mental health services are stretched to the bone.
This means that police services are having to keep people with mental health problems overnight in cells since they have nowhere to refer the individual who may have been arrested because of their erratic behaviour or for minor criminality.
It is essential that mental health services remain one of the key areas where investment takes place. It seems patently obvious, though needs to be said. If the mind is sick, it does not matter how fit the body is, sooner or later, the very being of the person will be affected and that is a danger to them and in a very small number of cases, a danger to others.
Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased and injured and if readers can get down to Russell Square, place some flowers nearby in honour of the woman who now remains in our hearts as a Londoner we will remember.