What happened to my crisis care?
Posted Wednesday 23 November 2011
In the latest in our series on crisis care, Sharon Howard writes about how she had to find her own support after being let down by local services.
Based on my experience you would think there really is no support for mental health on the NHS...
After my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, progress towards support actually appeared to be a wheel in motion - slow but at least things were happening.
The diagnosis came in September 2010 and in December 2010 I received a letter asking me to book an assessment for psychology therapy services with my local NHS trust. I dutifully called and was given an appointment for February 2011.
Despite being disappointed that I would have to undergo yet another assessment (having had three months of assessment to reach the diagnosis!) I was just glad that I would finally get some help.
In the meantime I had moved house...
I went along to my appointment in February and informed the Community Psychiatric Nurse who was carrying out the assessment of my move.
She completed the assessment, but informed me that I would not be able to go on the waiting list for treatment with their services as I was now under a different NHS trust in a different county.
She wrote to my new GP to say that she hoped that "her [my] care could now be expedited from the local CMHT without any further unnecessary assessments as she has already had a number of assessments with a variety of mental health professionals".
It was April 2011 before I received a response from my local Community Mental Health Trust. Unfortunately by this time I was already approaching/in crisis.
I just about managed to complete the questionnaire they had enclosed with the letter and send it back. It was a struggle to do this as I was at a point where I was barely doing anything at all.
The letter also stated that I had been placed "directly on our [their] therapy waiting list as of February this year".
Just a week later I hit rock bottom and attempted suicide...
The suicide attempt took place on Wednesday evening and on Friday morning I was taken to A&E.
I was put on a drip and the mental health liaison (MHL) team were called to come and assess me. The woman that came listened as I explained I was now homeless and had nowhere to go upon leaving A&E.
I told her I didn’t care as I just wanted to die, but I didn’t feel she was really listening.
She just kept talking about going to stay with a friend and gave me a leaflet with some phone numbers on it that constituted my care plan. It contained the following:
- Crisis team 24 hour phone number
- MHL will chase up referral to psychiatric services
- Council telephone number - ask for homeless help desk
- MHL will refer to hospital homeless service
She asked if I still felt suicidal. I was sat there, in a flimsy babydoll nightdress, trying to remove the drip from my own arm whilst she was talking and saying I was just going to walk out of A&E as I was.
I said 'NO' but I didn’t mean it. I had already been telling her I wanted to die. "If that’s not suicidal what is you stupid woman?" was all I could think!
So I told her ‘no’ as I knew it made no difference what I said, she wasn’t listening!
I spent the next month in a hotel that I paid for myself as the council would do nothing to help me.
They wanted me to go back to my previous county for help, but my job and children (also homeless) were here in this county. What use would going back to where I used to live be to us!?
During the time I was in the hotel I went to my GP several times. At one time the GP called the crisis team while I was in the office.
I had been unable and unwilling to call them myself as I was not in a good state of mind. I still wanted to kill myself and told the GP as much, hence his call to the team.
All they did was call the council housing team and tell the GP to call again if further help was required. I just walked out of the GP’s office, disgusted.
Since then, I asked my GP several times to chase up my referral to the CMHT as I have still not heard anything from them at all.
I resolved my homelessness issue, but as there was still no sign of any help from the NHS mental health services I asked for a referral to private care in May 2011.
In June 2011 I had an assessment with a private consultant psychiatrist and was referred for private psychotherapy treatment. I have been attending my private sessions weekly since July 2011.
I have still not heard anything from the CMHT and now I am feeling angry, let down and distressed that I have to pay for private treatment when I am out of work.
I think it may be time to start the formal complaints process over this matter, what do you think?
Sharon was diagnosed with BPD last year and blogs about her experiences. You can follow her on Twitter @SharonHoward09.
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