Thoughts on the recent Mental Health reforms

There has been a lot of talk over the past few days over Theresa May’s speech about Mental Health reforms where she pledged about new initiatives to help those with mental health problems.

Having a look through her speech it seems like most of her initiatives seem to focus on younger people, once again leaving those over the age of twenty odd left to fend for themselves with services that have been slashed over and over again thanks to budget cuts by the Tory government. Theresa May also promised to take action to tackle the ‘stigma’ around mental health, I’m sorry? Stigma? I’ll rather take the funding.

Any hows

There are positives from her speech however. She pledged new support in schools such as Mental Health First Aid Training and closer links with schools and CAMHS. I do welcome these seeing that according to studies half of mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% by 18. She also said that by 2021, no child will be sent away from their local area to receive treatment for mental health issues. This will be an interesting one to watch seeing that it’s quite common knowledge that children being admitted to hospital can sometimes be sent up to 300 miles away from their home. Again what funding is in place to make this happen? The £220 million promised by David Cameron still hasn’t filtered down to  front line services as many services are using it to fund other services.

How ever research conducted by the Education Policy Institute Independent Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health in November found that a quarter of young people seeking mental health care are turned away by specialist services because of a lack of resources and that waiting times for treatment in many areas are also incredibly long. Which again is a funding issue.

Also in the speech, Therese May announced that just an extra £15m is to be pledged for creating more places of safety. This works out to be about £23,000 per parliamentary constituency. Which in the scheme of things isn’t a lot at all.

She also talked about Digitally assisted therapy. So treatment provided over the internet such as Scotland’s ‘Mind the Blues’ in what seems like an attempt to make overstretched services go even further. Maybe Therese May would like to introduce my Crisis Team Chat Bot?

 

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A night in the cells during a mental health crisis

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I’ll always remember my first time in a police cell. No I wasn’t caught shoplifting. No I wasn’t drunk and nor was I caught doing anything I shouldn’t of been. I’ve always been respectful of the law and never been in trouble with them.

I was only there because of the simple thing of a lack of a different place of safety in my area and that I was in a mental health crisis.

It was a Saturday night, I had spent most of the evening walking around the local area, thinking about what way would be the best way to take my own life. I settled on a place BUT a passer-by called the police, they soon turned up and I was detained me under S136 of the mental health act.

At this point I was handcuffed, searched and put into the cage in the back of this huge police van (it must of been a public order one) during this time I just shut down, everything become a blur, I remember crying in the back because I thought I was a criminal and that I was cuffed.

After a while the van pulled up at the police station, the back opened up and I was dragged out by this 6’2 officer into this other cage, a buzzer went off and once again dragged into where this towering desk was, filled with fear, shame and guilt, I quietly tried to answer the custody sergeants questions all while I was still handcuffed.

At this point he asked me why I thought I was here. I had no idea, why would someone in a mental health crisis be in a police station? Especially where the cells are…

I said I didn’t know, with tears rolling down my face. I was told that it was because the place of safety at the trust was being used by someone and A&E wouldn’t of accepted me.

I had my rights explained, everything taken of me and logged: phone, keys, my books, you name it I had it taken from me. Asked if I wanted to speak to a soilcter, thinking I had still done something wrong I said was, that is what criminals did right?

I was taken down into a cell, my hoody, belt and shoes taken away. The door was shut behind me and locked. It was cold, smelt of something stale and the worst thing?

The noise… People banging, swearing, threats being shouted, people kicking off. I was terrified, I remember being overloaded with all the noise and having a panic attack. After what seemed like a entity some one come, calmed me down, give me some tea and had a chat, reassured me that I haven’t done anything wrong despite where I was. That helped a lot. After a number of hours layed in the cell, listening and crying, I was assered by the mental health and discharged.

A police cell really isn’t the place for someone in a mental health crisis to be. I was at my most vulnerable, in crisis, quiet, overwhelmed with everything going on in there and exhausted from it all. I really should of been in a place where I could of been in the care of health workers, people who knew what to do, calm me down, keep me safe, someone I could talk to and calm from the noise of people shouting, swearing and kicking off.

Between 2012 and 2013, in total 21,814 people were detained by the police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. (numbers taken from this: ‘Too many’ mentally ill end up in cells not hospital

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