I’m sitting here, furious. My anger is palpable it’s so real and although I was thinking no, I won’t have time to do this blog tonight, I have changed my mind because my fury is now driving me. The Mental Health System in the UK? Yeah, I can tell you about that lets see where shall I start?
I’m a survivor of incestous sexual abuse, of domestic violence/abuse, of the realities of sex work…I am a “problematic” drug user, a crack injector who’s spending in the region of £300.00 a day in the hope that the next hit is gonna be the one – the one that finally sends me over but no, oh no ….. I’m still here! Still here, after years of abuse and bullying and what have my local mental health team done for me? Nada, absolutely fucking nothing!
My diagnosis? What does it even matter because like so many others before me I’ve had no choice but to learn how to live with this alone! But for those interested I’ll list my ills which include post traumatic stress disorder and underlying anxiety disorder, night terrors and insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and an ‘antisocial personality disorder’ diagnosis.
Instead of being assessed and medicated correctly by my local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and GP, they take one look at my drug using history and they make an immediate judgement; “I did this to myself” and therefore I don’t deserve to be listened to or cared for.
My late husband was in the same situation. He killed himself. It happened 2 years ago but it might as well as have been yesterday; I walked into the living room and found him … dead, still sitting upright on the sofa.
Just four days before I had had a huge argument with the Community Mental Health Team and I told them I was not leaving until they put some treatment in place for Joe! They palmed him off with a referral to some inadequate project .
It was too little, too late for Joe. The plain and simple fact is that for 18 months no one was hearing him or me and four days later he was dead because they did not care!
The fact is that in my country today if you have mental health problems coupled with ‘drug use’ you are invisible as far as professionals (I believe thats what they call themselves?) are concerned. It really feels like they have to ‘put up with you’ whilst working out ways in which to discharge you out of their care. I truly believe that the reason this happens is because the whole issue of dual diagnosis is perceived as just too complicated to manage.
However, mental health nurses for the most part, are not trained in addiction psychology, their training ends when they acquire their degrees and from there on in it’s a journey of crisis management. Many look upon it as a self imposed disorder that appears to divert the resources from mental health’s more deserving patients. Therefore, the often simpler route for them is to make a referral into the care of a drug service regardless of whether or not the drug service has the skilled professionals available to work with such complex needs .
It’s easier for many to use the psychiatric professions’ standard excuse that ‘we need the individual to be drug free in order to assess the state of mind’. However, today’s recommended treatment for co-occurring disorders is now an integrated approach, where both the substance problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously.
The ignorance surrounding drugs and drug users and the resulting prejudice shown towards this client group is now so entrenched in the institutional culture that it has become the norm to just dismiss those drug users who are suffering from severe mental distress.
The ignorance surrounding drugs and drug users and the resulting prejudice shown towards this client group, something the profession would never of course admit to, is now so entrenched in the institutional culture that it has become the norm to just dismiss those drug users who are suffering from severe mental distress.
Most, if not all CMHT’s are under funded so expecting any innovative or forward thinking approaches regarding improving the quality of life for people who suffer with mental health problems is nothing more than wishful thinking. What we need are proper multifaceted treatment centres with a range of different approaches and interventions that can deal with prescribing regimes and are not influenced by a ridiculous notion that most patients do nothing more than engage in pleasure seeking behaviours.
We need the mental health system to become a vocation once again, for it to employ staff that actually care, staff that want to engage in partnership work and listen to their patients and their families in order to create care plans that include the views and needs of the patient/client. Then they must refer patients to the right places for continued care and support in the community. Money needs to be invested into our mental health services, the majority of them look like wash houses, they’re drab, falling apart, and look gloomy and depressing. My God, if you wanted to kill yourself before you go into one of these facilities you’ll make sure your suicide plan does not fail the second time round, just so that you don’t end up back inside one of these hell holes!
My son…For god’s sake, it has taken them 12 years to give him the correct diagnosis of autism. From the age of 16 he was incorrectly labelled as a paranoid schizophrenic and after countless sections’ in the psychiatric ward and a pointless number of rehabilitation centres later they finally give him the correct diagnosis, but guess what? They can’t find a suitable rehab for him because they don’t exist in this country! Bloody marvellous isn’t it? Apparently his condition has a component related to language which has just recently been identified and there are not enough facilities or trained staff to be able to work with this disability.
You may be thinking “oh she’s just mad because both her and her family have been shunted back and forth from one service to another without any positive effect” but no, this is not the case. I am angry, of course I am but something has to happen, this type of patient negligence cannot continue.
Yes, this is our “big society” Britain today, make sure you tick all the boxes else you don’t belong here!