Yes I am really writing about this. The mental health service in this country is a mess!
I want to stress before you start reading this post that these are MY the views and MY experiences.
For those of you that are lucky enough to not have experienced the mess that is our mental health system you might think that we are all exaggerating about how bad it is or simply that we are wrong and I only think it’s bad because we are ill?!
But can so many people be wrong? I don’t think so.
I recently spoke with a friend who chose to go ahead with a service that I declined. It’s called Complex Needs.
Giving you a quick overview it’s a group based ‘therapy’ where you have a long process of ‘getting ready groups’ (1/2 years is quite often the norm) before you can even apply to enter this ‘proper’ therapy. Once you are voted in (yes you can get voted out by members) you stay in the environment for 2/3 days per week with another 8+ mentally ill people over the course of 18 months. Whilst you are in this environment you are bound by the rules. These are often rigid, unrealistic and sometimes dangerous. But they must be follow or else! And the ‘or else’ means being discharged from the Mental health service! Yep that is the truth!
Now I have spoken to a few people who have been through the service and some found it helpful but there seems to be many many more that are still ill and in further therapy. The one, and in most cases the only, positive that people mention is that they have made good friends. I am an example of this. I have made a few great friends that I know I will stay in contact with for many years to come.
What troubles me is that in a service that is supposed to be helping people surely there must be other positives? Great therapy? Good professionals? Good and helpful rules and regulations? Safe environment? Positive experience? Helping with negative symptoms?
Like I say this is all my views and experiences and I am sure some people may have found things helpful but in the main they are not in my experience.
This Complex Needs service for people with mental health issues is just one example of how people are being failed time and time again!
It’s not right. It’s not fair. Something needs to change.
I was failed by the eating disorders service who said to me that my weight wasn’t low enough! I am almost 6 foot tall so naturally I am always going to weigh more than the average 5.5 foot woman. My weight plummeted to 8 stone (the equivalent to 6 stone in a 5.5 foot woman). I was and am diagnosed with anorexia but I simply wasn’t ill enough. I was told “If you feel like you want help then contact us, but as of now you are discharged!” Shocking! As anyone with an eating disorder knows, you don’t want help. You want to – no HAVE TO – lose more weight. So why would you ever ask for help!
The impact of this is that I felt like I was failing! I wasn’t even skinny enough to get help. So I continued and inevitably got worse. I am still struggling every single day!
I have seen people discharged from Mental health hospitals that weren’t ready. They were very ill and vulnerable. Myself and few other patients expressed their concern but we were simply told that “there was a backlog of people waiting to access the service!” It’s awful and frightening.
Another thing I believe is just awful is that you don’t seem to be given options. Now I completely understand that sometimes you might not be in the right place mentally to make any big decisions but why are family members not involved? Should you not be given all the information and options to take away and discuss with your family what is best?
With everyone that I have spoken to in the mental health system not one of them were given options of care? They were simply told – as was I – This is the only option to you. It’s this or nothing?! Yes really! I was never offered any other kind of therapy, and I did ask. I specifically asked but was told Complex Needs was all that was available!
I am now in a different therapy which suits me much better but I had to fight for it. I had to make numerous calls and visits to CPN’s Psychiatrists and my GP. Is this really fair? I spent nearly a year and half in a therapy that I hated, knew wasn’t working and at times made me worse all because of the ignorance and lack of funds!
Now, again, I stress this is my experience of how it has been in my area but I am aware that others are struggling to so I feel I need to share my experience. Only by talking can change take place.
I have written this post as a bit of a rant Yes, but also to show the how much the treatment of people with mental health issues is simply not good enough. On top of the huge struggles we face daily we also have to fight against a failing system.
Please be gentle with us. We are trying our hardest.
Lots of love