The importance of a good mental health team
Posted Wednesday 8 August 2012
I’ve been a service user of the Mental Health Team for 4 years now and I am very fortunate to be able to say that I have been treated especially well in the community, by my CPN and my psychiatrist. I often wonder if these two individuals know how much they have helped and mattered to me throughout those years that I have been under their care. I certainly think that people like them do not get the recognition they deserve.
I think back to when I first was referred to the Early Intervention Team for psychosis. At this point I was not aware that I was unwell, only that people did not share some of my views and did not understand the concept of ‘voices’, so I went along to see what would happen. That first meeting with my CPN was vital for me in that I could voice my views without getting a funny look or hearing I was wrong, for the first time. I was wary of this new person, but this was someone who would soon become one of the most important people in my life.
Skip forward 4 years and this person has been with me throughout almost half a dozen hospital visits and much personal confusion and distress. Each time I was admitted she would be there, once a week, sometimes twice. This was someone from the outside world who cared enough to drive and see me at my worst, that wasn’t family. I remember my CPN saying to me each time “this isn’t forever, you know”. When I thought things couldn’t get much worse, here was someone saying that things will be better, that there was hope. As I voiced my concerns, there was no “don’t be silly, that’s ridiculous”; instead “I can understand those concerns”. It was a relief to talk, once a week, without being judged, with a phone call also possible outside of the session.
Of course, it is always good to have someone to talk to that is not family or friends, who might be panicked and worried. Someone neutral to talk to was perfect, also someone who could reassure my family that my illness was treatable and there was hope for wellness and normality. Even when my CPN had to arrange a Mental Health Act Assessment for me, she was still hopeful of my situation and made no hesitation in letting me know that.
I also maintain good feelings towards the psychiatrist I have had. Whilst it often seems a lot more formal seeing a psychiatrist than a CPN, I soon grew more relaxed as the months went on. I find that seeing the psychiatrist is like a check-up and someone who can give you reliable answers about diagnoses and medication. Each time I saw my psychiatrist I would get a letter a few days later, without fail, summing up the meeting. If I need a letter explaining my illness for anything, my CPN will be there with it in an envelope. Communication has been very efficient.
I also have to attend a clinic at the Mental Health Team building for a blood test every fortnight, since I am on the medication Clozapine. The two specialist nurses who take my blood, check it and give me my medication are always friendly faces and I feel they genuinely care about my situation. It’s lovely not to feel stigmatised or embarrassed.
I am honestly not sure where I would be without all these people had they not been 100% involved and dedicated to my care. I truly think that good mental health care is possible and I also think it is highly important. The distress I experienced throughout my most unwell right through to the joy of being better was noted by them and I can honestly say I trust them fully with my situation. It is so important to be noticed, understood and cared for when you have a mental illness. I have seen that this is possible.
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