An everyday story of ruptures in mental health services
Reports show that there is a mental health crisis and long waits for treatment are adding to this. Theresa May’s pledge to deal with the “burning injustice of mental illness” is in jeopardy. Increasing demand versus cutbacks is creating an uncomfortable scene.
I have a personal account that I’d like to share to illustrate this point. When too much work gets too much for you and the work-life balance is 100%-0% and on top of this you feel permanently ill and can’t stop picking every little bug up, sometimes you just don’t know where to turn.
This happened to me four months ago and I just didn’t want to burden my wife and family with the problem and felt that none of my friends would want to hear me droning on about how I felt. So, I thought that I would approach MIND and see if I could just go in and talk to someone about how I felt. Even doing this was hard as I felt that I had failed and was weak because I could not cope with my everyday problems.
However, after looking at my phone for twenty minutes I did it and someone on the end of the line said that they would be back to me by the end of the day with an appointment to come in for an assessment.
A week later I was sat in the waiting room, very nervous but ready to spill it all. I was ushered into a room where I spent an hour just dumping everything that I had been bottling up out to a very interesting lady who seemed to be able to help me get all of this out in the open.
I was then assessed and they recommended that I went off-plan and came in once a week for six weeks to see if they could help me to work it all out.
My first appointment arrived and I received a text the day before it and on the morning of the appointment to make sure that I was going to turn up. I sat and waited but at 9am, the time of the appointment no one came to pick me up from the reception area. At 9.20 I went to the front desk to ask and the receptionist said, “Oh, I had better go and ask”. Ten minutes later I was met in the foyer by the flustered receptionist who said that the appointment had been cancelled.
The floor fell away and I was so disappointed after galvanising myself and steeling myself and looking forward to getting some help.
I was left without the chance to have the talk I really needed.
After a chat with one of the managers, he said that they were really sorry but they could not offer me an alternative that day as everyone was busy. My unfortunate but understandable retort was that “I had given up a mornings work to come in and I was very disappointed”. Looking back this was a poor response on my behalf because this was the very pressure that had been causing the issue.
I was offered an appointment exactly a week to the day and they promised that they would ensure that everything would be fine. The following week I took another half day off work and rolled up to the offices, again parked my car outside and went into reception. They had again texted me to remind me of the appointment and I had even rung them in the morning to check that it was still on.
I approached the desk to find the receptionist in panic and told that the person that I was due to have an appointment with had severe problems and was not going to be able to make it. I was shattered, twice in a row I was going to be denied the help I so very much needed. The person in charge of the unit then appeared and took me to a room intermittently moaning about her bad leg and problems she had, not what I came in to hear and very bad practice.
Unfortunately, I had had enough and was not going to fall for these deflection tactics and just told her that the service was a disgrace and how would it have been if I had really been at risk, suicidal or had a severe condition. She had no answers. She then frantically phoned around and found someone to come in. Thirdly minutes later I was shown into a room and was able to try and put this behind me and talk about my issues.
At the end of the session, I felt much better and I was told that within a week they would have found someone that I could talk to.
It is now three months later and yesterday someone rang me to say that they had found me, someone, to take me on, and would I like to book another appointment.
If this is the state of the mental health care service it is no wonder that so many people have so many problems.
Although I am strong and have systematically worked through my issues and redressed my work-life balance to ensure that I have put this issue behind me for now, if I had not been strong I just don’t know how this kind of treatment would have affected me.
How many people have received poor service like this from the so-called professional services, I feel that it must be fairly high given my experience and that of others that I have spoken to.
It is great that we are highlighting mental health issues but if we can’t offer top class services in response that is of high quality I fear that we have a long road to walk down and perhaps a mountain to climb at the end of it.