Unexpected knowledge – Things I’ve learned since being sectioned

12 Apr


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.




23 Responses to “Unexpected knowledge – Things I’ve learned since being sectioned”

  1. ComaDiary 12 April 2014 at 11:37 am #

    I’ve been in mental health services for years, and I now work in mental health. Being taken to a place of safety is not classed as an arrest and will only show up on a DBS or CRB check generally if there is violence towards an officer, it is classed as detaining under a 136, in which the patient can be held for up to 72 hours in a place of safety to be further assessed.

    I don’t believe anyone detained under the mental health act should ever be taken to a police station, but this is another issue really. You can check out 136 legislation here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1983/20/section/136.

    Sadly, I have been picked up many times by the police under 136 and also as a missing vulnerable person all while working with vulnerable adults and children, my CRB/DBS has to be renewed every year and so far nothing has come up, despite the fact my dealings with the police concerning my mental health has been equal to dealings with crisis teams and psych units.

    If your 136 was because you were trying to harm yourself, and not young children or vulnerable adults there is no reason to disclose. The information provided in a DBS/CRB check has to be relevant to the post, so if you were 136’d after trying to throw yourself off a bridge and you were applying to work in a nursing home, it probably wouldn’t be disclosed because there is no reason to really, you were trying to harm yourself.

    Also, it is worth baring in mind, even if they are going to disclose 135/136 sections, after 2 years they become ‘spent’ like a criminal conviction that does not result in prison (cautions, etc) so then they would not be disclosed.

    • Sectioned 12 April 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and attempting to explain the law and the practice of the police to me. However, you are mistaken on the law, and you are mistaken in your generalisation about the manner in which individual senior officers may exercise their discretion.

      You don’t need to take my word for it. I recommend taking a look at this previous post https://sectioneduk.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/section-136-mental-health-places-of-safety-and-criminal-records/ for clarification. There you’ll see a conversation with Mental Health Cop, a police inspector who deals with such issues on the ground daily. S136 is an arrest and it may be disclosed on an enhanced police records check at the discretion of the police.

      It’s an injustice.

      • ComaDiary 12 April 2014 at 2:31 pm #

        [This entry was deleted by the administrator as it is unrelated to the blog post]

      • Sectioned 12 April 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        If you read the blog post I’ve referred you to, you will see the legal position set out. Thanks for your continuing interest. With so much to say, why not write your own blog post on the topic?

      • ComaDiary 12 April 2014 at 3:08 pm #

        [This entry was deleted by the administrator as it is unrelated to the blog post]

    • desdemoaner 10 July 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      You’re wrong ComaDiary. You only have to read AlastairCampbell’s blog to see instances of what can be disclosed on a enhanced CRB/DBS.

      The enhanced part of a CRB (now DBS) means soft information that can be anything the Chief Superintendent of the relevant police force knows and decides to disclose. This includes someone absconding from a mental hospital who is returned by the police and doesn’t have to involve any violence or threat whatsoever. Incredibly petty, but some police officers are disclosing such information and even if one can pass such a check once, it doesn’t mean that next time the information won’t be disclosed. People are actually being refused jobs and voluntary work because of this mental health related disclosure.

      Soft information is also alarming because it is being shared between education, medical, social work and other organisations. Thus a school can be informed if the parent of a child has had some brush with the psychiatric system and they can be watched for signs of neglect etc.

  2. Quinonostante 12 April 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Reblogged this on Mentally Wealthy.

  3. First Night Design 12 April 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    I came here via Mentally Wealthy and although I’m not surprised by much these days, I am horrified that so much of what my mother went through is still, criminally, extant. Wishing you strength.

  4. Carolyn Hughes 12 April 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your experiences so honestly and helping to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by those with mental health issues. I have never been sectioned but I have stayed voluntarily in hospital in the past when my depression was at its worst.
    That was about 20 years ago and it is hard to see that resources and facilities are so lacking.
    I wish you much good health and happiness in your recovery.

  5. Rubeus Flint 12 April 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Love the blog. Sent you an email. R

  6. learning2float 12 April 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    Reblogged this on Learning to float and commented:
    Fascinating post!! Recognise some of the points made despite never being sectioned. When will mental health be treated equally to physical health.

  7. luaprelkniw 13 April 2014 at 2:37 am #

    I *have* been “sectioned” (called “formed” where I live) and here it is indeed called an arrest; furthermore, that arrest record is shared by the police in my country to prevent one from entering other countries unless an officially approved psychiatrist (approved by the foreign government) gives a written statement asserting that one is mentally fit to enter that country without harming its citizens or becoming a burden on its government services. The price of such examinations is around £400, not including travel and accommodation costs. There are a number of cases in the press detailing these situations. The whole thing is outrageous!

    The other things you mentioned regarding being in a mental health care facility mainly stem from the understaffing problem, in my opinion. The staff have no time for the patients, so all they care about is order and the smooth operation of the unit. If you interfere with that in any way, you risk punishment, physical restraint, or isolation. Not all facilities are necessarily like that, but many are.

  8. helenafay 13 April 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Reblogged this on psu24c and commented:
    I am filled with great fear when I hear of the lack of empathy in the treatment of the mentally unwell.

  9. donnakemp 13 April 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on LYPFT Planning Care Network and commented:
    Brings a whole new dimension to shared learning; we all have something to learn from this………

  10. Orange County Chiropractor 14 April 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Love the blog. Thank you for sharing your experiences so honestly and helping to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by those with mental health issues.

  11. Yvonne Liddell 14 April 2014 at 11:02 am #

    In 2014 no-one should be feeling like Sectioned. Let’s just hope that things start to change….soon. A lot is asked of people when being led towards Recovery and too often they are finding that the things they want and need are not in place due to lack of funding and resources. Or if they have been in the system too long they are pre-judged which halts any chance they may have.

    ‘ For thou shalt see the land afar off but thou shalt not go hither ‘.

  12. Liz 6 May 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, vital for people to know what it’s really like, poor you, I hope things are better now? I was a placid agoraphobic (all my life), with a mobility issue (back and knees) and an ‘armchair activist’ and due to place being a mess (no care package) was hauled off by a 7ft policeman (I am tiny) minutes after having ‘met’ 2 psychiatrists. No warning, just action from local police, one of whom was heard to say ‘get her on the grounds she’ll always be a nuisance’ (I was complaining of corruption in the Police, labelled a ‘vexatious’ complainer) I spent four months in hospital where panic and anger is labelled ‘psychotic and schizophrenic’ . It was like prison (according to other patients who had been, prison was better) and has left me traumatised. I managed to stop taking their ‘risperidone’ which had robbed me of personality as well as giving me a tremor. Terrible trauma and WHAT FOR? To meet budget targets? All the best.

  13. desdemoaner 10 July 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I was sectioned, or detained without trial as I prefer to call it which is the reality, twice when I was 18.

    Both times I wasn’t told it was done: the first time I guessed a few seconds in, the second I guessed as soon as I found a stranger shouting at me in my own home. Yes, they can come and do that to you in your own home! I felt raped and violated that it was in my own home. I wasn’t told why, no one told me their names, designation or why they were there and they never addressed me by name. On the first occasion I was officially told 6 days later by a different doctor. It was actually illegal as it was done by a doctor and nursing officer and it should have been 2 doctors but the illegality doesn’t bother me too much as it’s only a formality as all doctors cover for each other and back each other up. Later I learnt the reason was that I was alleged to be a danger to my mother – a violent, brutal and cruel child abuser.

    The second time I was sitting on the sofa in the dining room at home on weekend leave, wondering what on earth was going to become of me, being kept in a hospital (a prison in all but name) not told why I couldn’t leave; drugged till I fell unconscious, bashing my head and losing control of my bowels in front of people. I was also nursing a sore head and my ear lobes were bleeding after being beaten up a few minutes earlier by a male relative. Wasn’t really thinking about that much as he’d done that to me all my life. But what hadn’t happened before was that the thugs of the detention squad hadn’t burst into my home, shouting at me and detaining me under the Mental Health Act. But they did on that most terrible day of my life.

    What I learnt:

    1. Doctors, social workers and psychiatric nurses have too much power.

    2. More legal protection needs to be in place to protect people from unnecessary deprivation of liberty

    3. It’s got to be easier to sue doctors and AMHPs for illegal and unnecessary detention.

    4. It’s got to be easier to sue psychiatric nurses and carers for assault.

    5. The dangers of the medical model and its dismissal of real life experiences.

    6. The Mental Health Act is a perverts’ charter.(they use it to discredit their victims)

    7. Psychiatrists, social workers and psychiatric nurses are possessed of an almost idiotic level of low intelligence.

    8. Psychiatrists and social workers believe any lies they’re told by ‘loved ones’ of an allegedly mentally ill or disordered person.

    9. The nuclear family is a sacred unit and much of psychiatry is about protecting it.

    10.. Being detained without trial is worse than child abuse both as it is experienced and in the long term.

    11. Psychiatrists, social workers and psychiatric nurses don’t care what humiliation and injustice they heap on human beings.

    12. Psychiatrists, social workers and psychiatric nurses will indulge in extensive cover up to conceal the mistakes they make.

  14. desdemoaner 10 July 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Sorry for using your space to ramble on. I do like your blog and your honesty. It is such a raw and emotional subject for me: it’s like an open wound that’s been septic these past 39 years.


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