Support in mental health? Yeah right. The system has epically failed me.
Posted by flissyb
8th Aug 2014

The NHS and government support system designed to help individuals with mental health issues, such as myself, has epically failed.

• I have a diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar, a severe mental health illness with episodes of depression, mania, psychosis previously using coping strategies including an eating disorder and self-harm. I have been admitted to both private and NHS psychiatric hospitals a number of times over the last six years and received ECT (electro convulsive therapy).

• It is continually communicated that focus should be on relapse prevention through creating care plans and monitoring individuals, preventing crisis and possible hospital admission. To me, there is no focus. Myself, close friends still in hospital and those discharged, others I’ve met in drop in centres, families, friends and the voices of those I’ve lost to suicide – we all feel the same.

• I am ‘supposedly’ supported by the community mental health team. I helped to write a care plan with my community psychiatric nurse some time ago which was sent to my psychiatrist and GP to help prevent any relapse. Waste of time. I am struggling now and my psychiatrist check-up appointment is three months overdue and my community health team support non-existent. It appears I have been discharged through no knowledge of my own. I must now be reassessed. Why? Who knows? It’s a shambles.

• The saddest thing is I am asking for help. I am at the stage where I am recognising I am at risk of becoming ill. I am identifying the red flags listed in my care plan. I know this is when support needs to kick in.

• I have made at least fifteen phone calls to my psychiatrist, GP and community mental health team, asking for help in the last three months. Last year just before I was admitted to an acute psychiatric unit I would barely have managed the one phone call. I still feel very much unsupported.

• I have been told time and time again the cancellation of appointments and delay in returning calls and difficulty in reaching people is down to community mental health teams in Coventry being divided and moving offices. This excuse is now three months old. The change management to make the NHS mental health teams work more efficiently and effectively is appalling. I know for a fact there are others who feel the same. We are calling for help and we can’t get through, people are not available, they don’t return calls and they don’t work at those offices any more. Who is accountable for this broken down service? We are all at risk of relapse, hospital admittance and in reality, suicide.

• My support unit crumbled months ago. I broke down unable to cope with financial difficulties and after my CPN telling me ‘you’re better than you were’ and ‘go to Citizens advice’ when I pleaded I couldn’t I refused to see her. I was allocated a caring and efficient social worker who kick-started the problem solving but no-one supported me effectively from then on. An appointed Independent Advocate was supposed to act on my behalf. Both him and Citizens advice professed my financial difficulties where ‘outside their remit’ but never effectively signposted me anywhere. I was stuck with a deadline resulting in a court order, potential CCJ or bankruptcy. I was forced to see someone privately costing me hundreds. I am on DLA and ESA and after three months the professionals could not tell me whether I qualified for legal aid.

• I am not asking for a medication change. I understand recovery and relapse prevention to be more than a pill. However, I want it to be recognised that the stress and pressure of my life currently is making me feel unwell and I am anxious and scared of going through another depressive episode. I want someone to be aware. I want someone to listen. I want someone to support me in getting through it.

• If I called the crisis team now, suicidal, the response rate would be within hours. However, it seems to be fine to put us through the chasing and chasing and begging for help to prevent that ever happening.

• We need accessible help that promises someone on the end of the phone. We need people to listen, let us vent and empower us to find solutions. We need encouragement. We need more effective people monitoring integrating the support network so stress and triggers can be identified and potentially resolved. We need our CPN’s, psychiatrists, social workers, GP’s to work as a team. We need to be effectively signposted. We need recognised, trusted people to see us through our difficult periods and not allow us to feel alone and abandoned by the services we are taught to trust. We need better communication in coping strategies and self-management to assist alongside medication, not allowing pills to take centre stage.

• I am sure the government and NHS will tell us all my points above are being addressed but I can assure you, they are not. I battle an illness yet at the same time regularly volunteer for MIND and MHFA (mental health first aid) training courses and have been a guest speaker at various universities including Leicester and Coventry delivering personal experience and crisis workshops. I also wrote a book about my bipolar experience as an e-book on Amazon – ‘Madly Seeking Sanity’ by Lola Jane. Dissatisfaction is rife.

Please ask me for more detailed information on any of my points. I am absolutely committed to putting my view across. None of us holding diagnoses asked to become ill but we did trust that after paying our taxes and being a British Citizen that we would be appropriately cared for. And we never, expected to be put at risk through lack of support adding only to our already troublesome stresses.

It makes me both angry and heart achingly sad that I have to write this. I lost a wonderful friend to suicide after she left the ward overnight where we were both inpatients. We spent every day together for three months. I fight the corner of my friend in another hospital who was recently told after being moved rooms and breaking down crying ‘there is worse than changing rooms, there is dying’. I of course lodged a formal complaint and the nurse is no longer there now. Good. I received a text today from a talented artist I shared my Priory experience with in 2008 and after numerous hospital admissions he tried to take his life last Friday night by overdosing. He is being seen by a home treatment team now where he has managed to self-harm with a screw driver and you know why? Because no beds are available.

I want to make a difference to this system because it’s not fair. And I don’t want the next suicide be because someone didn’t answer them when they asked for help. Let’s not learn from it. Let’s prevent it.

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