Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Insane Vs The Mental Health Team


I am appalled by the state of the mental health system in Yorkshire, specifically Kirklees. I am disgusted with the apathetic doctors and the inappropriate demeanour of the mental health nurses of the mental health team.

My dear friend suffers with Asperger’s syndrome. For those of you who don’t know what that is, basically it is a high functioning form of autism. She also suffers from severe depression and anxiety. She needs her routines, she has poor to no eye contact and talking to people she doesn’t know is almost impossible.

Lately she needed to have her antidepressants changed. Anyone suffering with severe depression and on medication will know that this needs to happen when the pills you are taking aren’t working, you get used to them or the side effects outweigh the benefits. It can be a very stressful time to someone who is suffering as there is almost always a noticeable change in your mood and/or thought process while the other pills are coming out of your system and the new ones are taking effect.

She went to see a doctor we do not usually go to as he is generally unsympathetic and rather rude. She was desperate. She explained to him that she was overly suicidal, irrationally angry and at a greater risk of harming herself on these pills. He reluctantly changed them after lecturing her about getting better quicker. This is not what outraged me, unfortunately in both of our experiences, this is the norm. It seems to be the understanding doctors that are few and far between these days.
It was what followed me that outraged me. A few days later, she returned to the doctor's for her top up of pain killers (for various ailments) and after being lectured about taking them and being told to drink water instead as it will cure everything including her depression (!) she looked at the notes the previous doctor had put. They were as follows:

“She displays no signs of suicide, has good eye contact and generally has good rapport”

Now, I was not there but I know she (having Asperger’s) cannot lie. He was not only out rightly lying about her suicidal thoughts but in the mood she was in as well as not liking him, I know for a fact her eye contact would have been worse than poor.
I wish I could say this was the only way she has been failed by seemingly trained professionals, not only in her life but just this week.

She had recently been contacted by The Mental Health Team for her second time; the nurse who spoke to her was pressuring her to go in for another assessment. She couldn’t get there by herself and so asked for a home visit. I was in the room when this conversation took place. He told her to get her priorities in order and basically threatened her to go in otherwise she wouldn’t be seen. She was so upset by the time she got off the phone, she couldn’t speak.

Outraged, I called him and demanded to know exactly what he had said to upset her. I was met with an appalling attitude coupled with “I don’t think that’s any of your business” and “I am not prepared to answer any more questions”. I was not asking for any personal details or any information that could have even sounded confidential. He simply refused to talk to me and said he would not apologise for his manner.
The matter was passed on to my friend's mother, as I was not being taken seriously. She informed me that he apologised to her and said he was simply in a bad mood. He then arranged a home visit.

Being Miss Manners and not wanting to hold a grudge, I welcomed him in to my home so he could assess my friend. She was understandably upset and therefore displayed very guarded body language (looking at the floor, folded arms and shaking legs) but I prompted her to answer as many questions as she could and I filled in the gaps.

I thought it was going as well as it could possibly go until he said “I don’t know if there is anything I can do as she clearly doesn’t want me here” in the most vindictive way, like a child who had been cast out. I was astounded. I politely informed him that she is like this with any new person due to the concoction of ‘issues’ she has and that he should not take it personally. He childishly interrupted me with “I’m not!” Yes, it sounds like it.

I am simply shocked that any of this behaviour was allowed to happen. He is in a position where he is supposed to display empathy and rational behaviour at all times…am I incorrect in thinking this? I know they are human too and have ‘bad’ days but surely in this crucial position, you need to display a level head and an understanding nature?

Both she and I are being failed on every conceivable level in regards to out mental health. This is the sole reason I have the knowledge and insight in to my own condition as if I relied solely on the ‘professionals’, I have no doubt, whatsoever, that I would have committed suicide by now.

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