Help us tell the true story of crisis care
Posted Friday 12 August 2011
Mental health hospitals serve around 100,000 people a year, yet despite treating a significant number of our society, for most people they remain a great unknown. We know they are there, but don’t know what happens there; they have an interlude in the media spotlight when there are failings or scandals, and then return to anonymity, a silent presence in the lives of our communities.
Whether you have been in hospital or not, you will already know that public perceptions of mental health hospitals come with a whole load of baggage, largely informed by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest, one-off news stories and fictional representations in TV dramas.
For all the popularity of the ‘mental health asylum’ in our story telling traditions, little is spoken about their day to day reality. For storytellers, they are full of horror and intrigue; for their audience, it’s a chance to glimpse behind the curtain of one of life’s largely hidden experiences. Whether in fact or fiction, people who use mental health hospitals are always the Observed, and rarely the Observer. Rarely do they get the chance to turn the tables, and comment on what it’s like for them.
The very hidden-ness of life in mental health hospitals is one of the things that makes it difficult to hold it to account. With a public that has limited access to accurate information on hospitals, arguably widespread pressure to change conditions will likewise be limited. In the autumn, Mind will be launching a new campaign on crisis care, and we have spent the last year asking people for their opinions and experiences of all aspects of the crisis system, and gathering your voices on what needs to change.
We know from what people have told us that crisis teams and hospitals can be left to solve the failings of elsewhere in the system, where delays in access to treatments and poor services have left people vulnerable and deteriorating. We’ve been told that for some people, crisis care is the pinnacle of these failings – a medley of atrocities and oversights – while for others, the sensitivity of staff and intelligent compassion have produced the support people need to recover. The extreme variation in experience alone is a cause for alarm.
Whatever your experience, positive or negative, as a service user, family member, or mental heath professional, Mind’s campaign is based around presenting the true story of crisis care from your perspective, and advocating for changes that will bring the system closer to delivering the things people need in a crisis.
Now that we’ve had your views for our policy-making work, we’re looking for people who are happy to speak out about their experiences in the media – to tell their stories themselves, and help lift the veil surrounding acute and crisis care.
If you have experience of using crisis care or delivering these services, and would be happy to share your story with the media, we want to hear from you!
Update: Thursday 18 August
Thank you to all of you who have shared your experience of mental health crisis care services with us in the last week. We have been inundated with a range of stories, and will be in touch with each of you in the coming week.
Julia Lamb, Mind Senior Media Officer
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