Can we really call it 'care'?
Posted Thursday 24 November 2011
This week Mind publishes its report and recommendations on acute and crisis mental health care and promotes them to Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Rhian asks about whether it can really be called ‘care’ at all.
Trigger warning - this blog discusses self harm.
For the past year Mind has been investigating the state of crisis care for people with mental health problems, whether it's good or bad (the care, not the mental health).
Once in the past few months there was talk of having me referred to the crisis team, but I baulked at the mere mention and improved over the next fortnight or so without them.
I baulked because my own experience with the crisis team in Leicester has been less than stellar.
Leicester's a big place, lots of people, lot of people in need of care, whether in a crisis or not. So it's never going to be perfect, but it should be better.
Regardless of the need, care shouldn't be so hit and miss, whether it's for physical health or mental health. But then, we're lucky to have any health care at all, so should we be complaining?.
I find it a bit of a double-edged sword, but then, when I'm sitting in the corner of my flat rocking back and forth and crying and considering cutting for the first time in months, none of it matters. All I need is help. Care.
I didn't always get it.
A lot of the time I just got prescriptions from the crisis team for medication I was already taking, so basically they were making sure I was actually taking my meds.
Which is fine, except at that point I was mostly using my meds for non-fatal overdoses (my psychiatrist at the time called them para-suicide attempts) and helping me get to sleep after a lot of beer and some self-harm. So not quite what I needed.
What else I got from the crisis team were threats of the police (if I didn’t answer the door) and hospitalisation.
The crisis team are only involved for two weeks, and then. If you're not 'better', not out of the crisis, then to hospital with you. And that is not always the most conducive of environments, not even the safest of environments.
People still hurt themselves while on mental health wards, still kill themselves. Hospital wards can do more harm than good.
Even before the stories I heard, even before my friend killed herself, I was aware going to hospital was a bad idea.
But that was the choice I had, more drugs or hospitalisation. Of course, this is just my experience, and my experience with the crisis team.
I've been to A&E a few times, never a brilliant reception there, but I feel that's another post, for another day.
I guess the point is that I didn't feel like this was 'care' but more the bare minimum to keep me alive, before I'm passed on to someone else. I had to fight to get the help I needed to improve my mental health and live without self harm.
We should get more than the bare minimum that the NHS decides we need, that the doctors decide we need, because so often they're not motivated by the right things.
The NHS is motivated by money, too many doctors are motivated by targets, and all I ever really wanted was some help in those moments when even breathing was difficult.
That's all anyone really wants, not to have to jump through the hoops.
Rhian blogs at http://scruffy-duck.net
Read Mind’s information on coping with self harm and Rhian’s blog for self injury awareness day.
Excellent crisis care exists, but we need it everywhere, for everyone. Support our campaign, take action now.
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