Archive | April, 2014

Unexpected knowledge – Things I’ve learned since being sectioned

12 Apr

Unexpected

Since starting to have mental health problems and then being sectioned, I’ve learned about things I never imagined existed or would need to know about.

  • I’ve learned that being taken to hospital by police counts as an arrest that could show up on checks done for prospective employers.
  • I’ve learned about the Work Capability Assessment, Atos and Employment Support Allowance and that, even if your doctor’s certificate is for mental health, you’ll still be asked to touch your toes.
  • I’ve learned that mental health problems are often treated with purely physical means, and that merely keeping someone alive is seen as success enough.
  • I’ve learned that getting treatment for mental health problems can be a test of endurance: nearly three years post-discharge, I’m still waiting for talking therapy.
  • I’ve learned that, even though mental health services are already badly under-funded, they are being cut more than physical health services.
  • I’ve learned that what goes on behind the closed doors of a mental health ward doesn’t matter, because no one sees and no one believes you or wants to listen either inside or when you get out.
  • I’ve learned that, though you don’t have to justify treating cancer, we still have to make an economic case for alleviating mental distress in a bid to get treatments funded.
  • I’ve learned there’s a gap between being too unwell to qualify for help (when you’re excluded from IAPT services) and not being ill enough (when you can get the full works, including a community psychiatric nurse, social worker, occupational therapist, care coordinator and support worker); and that, in that gap, people like me are parked on meds and benefits to quietly while away our existence.
  • I’ve learned all sorts of weird DIY coping mechanisms to mask my difficulties, to get through the day and to try to pass for normal. I’ve become good at improvising, but I’d rather be living life to the full.
  • I’ve learned that acceptance and lowering my expectations are helpful; and that, sometimes, low expectations may later need to be lowered still further.
  • I’ve learned that, unlike when someone has a broken leg, insight into (and self-awareness of) your own symptoms and distress is somehow seen to mean you don’t need help urgently or, indeed, at all.
  • I’ve learned that, though A&E doctors describe it as “like a war zone”, it’s where people in mental health crisis and distress are told to go.
  • I’ve learned that, though paramedics have no mental health training, people in mental distress are told to call 999 for an ambulance.
  • I’ve learned that children in mental distress are held in police cells (also here); and that all that prompts is hand-wringing and promises to try to do better.
  • I’ve learned about concepts from activism and human rights campaigning, like derailing, gaslighting, mansplaining and tone policing.
  • I’ve learned what it’s like living in homeless hostels from people who are living there now; and that (if I’m lucky and can persuade the council to put a roof over my head) that’s where I could end up this year (for example, see here and here).
  • I’ve learned that forced treatment casts a long shadow. That, though ward staff may see it as a short-term fix, it can cause long-term harm.

When I was sectioned, I never imagined I’d learn these things.

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Unexpected questions – I didn’t expect to be asked that!

11 Apr

 

Fearless baby - now that looks like a risky activity!

Fearless baby – now that looks like a risky activity!

Since coming into contact with mental health services, I’ve been asked all sorts of questions I never imagined I’d be asked. Questions by a social worker as part of a needs assessment for a care plan, a mental health advocate at Mind, a mental health day centre and my new support worker as part of preparing my support plan. These include:

  • How long after we don’t hear from you should we consider you to be missing? That’s one to ponder when you’re asked out of the blue. The support worker suggested two weeks or a month. I said one day: I’d like to think someone would start looking for me after a day, you know?
  • Do you have access to children? “Access” to children? How does that work? I was asked that as part of a needs assessment for a Care Plan.
  • Do you have a history of violence or aggression? Really? Do people get asked these questions when they’re assessed for a medical problem? No.
  • What is your level of trust and hope in services? I was asked this only today as part of my support plan now I’m getting my first ever support worker. Well, when you factor in PTSD then parking on meds and benefits, frankly pretty low.
  • What risky activities do you engage in? Ooh, eating food just past its ‘best before’ date? Going for a walk without a pac-a-mac? This prompted some hilarious responses from the lovely twitter people!

Read the full twitter conversation here.

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Section 136: Mental health, places of safety and criminal records

10 Apr
My Enhanced Certificate from the Disclosure & Barring Service, April 2014

My Enhanced Certificate from the Disclosure & Barring Service, April 2014

This is a photo of the Enhanced Certificate I received yesterday from the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) which last year took over from the Criminal Records Bureau in providing criminal records checks.

Here’s a twitter conversation yesterday about places of safety, mental health and criminal records, including the law relating to section 136 (and yes, it is an arrest; and yes, it’s up to police to decide whether to include it in an enhanced DBS check) from the perspective of award winning police inspector Mental Health Cop.

I’ll write this up into a blog when it’s not bedtime! I’m having to be strict with my bedtime routine at the moment to try to get back on an even keel.

Night night.

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