What can I say? In the UK the mental health provision for all is bad but for survivors it is appalling. For me it took a formal complaint to get therapy. Even this isn’t enough.
This is my experience of negotiating the mental health services in the UK.
It started in January 2011. When I had a breakdown and admitted that I’d considered suicide, I was in such a state because I’d not had sleep for several months. After being taken for an emergency appointment to a local doctor, prescribed sleeping tablets to help me sleep. Two days later I went to my own Gp. He wrote a letter for me to take to A&E. When I arrived at A&E they gave me a red card as I had been referred to them because I was a suicide risk.
I was assed by a lovely nurse who said in the note good eye contact. Then I was asked to sit in a locked room while the psychiatric nurse was called. This room would normally be used for violent patients who were a risk to others. I sat in this room with a friend who took me to the Dr. I recounted my story to the nurse and how I’d been feeling. He then went away for about two hours. I’d not had any food or drink for hours. When he came back he said that the psychiatrist wasn’t available for another two hours. They did say we could go and get a tea and a sandwich.
When we went back down after they called me on my mobile to say the the psychiatrist doesn’t need to see me and prescribed anti depressants.
About a week later I got a letter from the local mental health trust telling me I had an appointment for assessment. At the assessment the community mental health nurse wanted the whole story again. During this interview he advised that he would recommend that I have my CRB clearance taken away. Obviously with the work I was doing I needed the CRB.
I then waited. One month went by the,two and then after three months I wrote to the trust asking what was going on. Did I get a reply. No. This went on for months, then after getting my MP involved I finally got to see a psychologist. By this tim I had found out that my contract would not be renewed. By the time he had reviewed my case it was suggested that I go to group therapy. The only problem was I’d just started a new job and would not have been able to attend. They discharged me.
Fast forward to June 2012, the weekend of the jubilee. When I realised that I needed more help a I’d hit rock bottom. In September 2012 I went to my Gp who suggested I refer myself to the mental health services in my area. In October I had a telephone assessment, which was done on a speaker phone. The advised that I would need CBT to deal with the depression. So I waited and waited then in January I got a letter advising that they would be in contact to arrange an appointment. After four months of waiting I was told I was discharged.
I made a formal complaint to the company who were providing the service. This went on for about six weeks, before getting a letter saying can I call to arrange an appointment.
I have now had eight sessions and I’m beginning to see progress but the rub is I now only have four sessions left.
I’m one of the lucky ones as I’ve been able to surround my self with positive people and I’m stubborn to boot.
Something needs to happen to save lives that have been blighted but the evil of abuse. In this day and age we need an integrated health system that reacts to the needs of the patients and not the whims of politicians.
Well I have had more therapy since then after a mini breakdown last year. I realise the this all about managing my past. The mental health system is now in a worse state due to cuts and privatisation. On New Year’s Day the local NHS took away my access to a support website, this site had helped me out and I feel that I’ve been let down once more.
I have to to say that it’s time to stand up and challenge the perception of mental illness and take away the stigma.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.