Lack of Mental Health Support in the UK
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Please help us to gain easier access to mental health services and greater family involvement in the process
We are being encouraged to speak out - but why, when drastic changes need to be made to our mental health system?
In the UK, people and their families are being let down by the lack of mental health services and restrictions in accessing them. There are too many people losing their lives unnecessarily.
Imagine seeing the person you love and care for torn in pain and struggling to cope. Imagine not knowing how or where to get them help. Imagine that you are given numbers to call – but no one can tell you what assistance that individual or agency may be able to give. Imagine that you call these numbers and being told that you can’t be the person to get your loved one the lifesaving help that they so desperately need.
Sadly, for too many people, we don’t have to imagine this. This is happening every day. 8th February 2020 was the day it happened to my loved one, to me and our family and it continues to destroy lives, families and communities.
Jay made the huge step of asking for help, only to be let down when faced with more delays and no where to turn. There is no clarity for families on how to support their loved ones. Who do we call? When can we call them? How do we get help? I was given a bunch of numbers and asked what are they for? What help will they give? The answer? We don't know, phone them and find out. We struggled to get Jay any form of timely support and when he was consumed by his troubles, we were overruled by red tape – Jay had to consent to their help… they wouldn’t speak to him if he’d been drinking (to block out his pain). We were on our own.
There is too much red tape and too many delays to getting help.
The crisis teams aren't urgent response teams and will only act if the individual is willing to consent to support or is referred by a professional – so the valuable and potentially life-saving opinions of families are disregarded. If the individual turns to alcohol to bury their pain and suffering – the crisis team will not speak to the individual until they are sober. The only option at that time is to try hard to keep them safe; phone the police if you can’t or phone the ambulance if they have already come to harm.
If the individual still refuses help, families face going back to their GP to request an access meeting resulting in more delays; wasting precious time that a person in crisis cannot afford to lose.
What happens when the individual can't fully see what's happening? Why can't our opinion count?
The mental health act prevents professionals entering homes without a magistrates’ consent. Police are powerless unless the individual is causing harm within the property or leaves the property threatening harm. Why should the Police be our only resort when what he needed was medical attention?
Patients are on long waiting lists for counselling services, with little or no support in between. I experienced differences of opinion in my desperate attempts to get help … some saying remove all alcohol … others assuming he was alcohol-dependent and saying not to remove it. I was initially told I couldn’t discuss anything with the crisis team and then when I called them back on another occasion, I was told they couldn’t help because Jay had been drinking to drown out his pain.
Families are pushed to breaking point; there is no clarity over the route they must navigate to reach the timely professional help needed, and no clear guidance or support to help them care for their loved one.
This whole process needs reviewing. Services need to be updated and professionals need to provide people and their families with the support they need. Time delays need to be removed and action taken quickly.
I know we are not alone in what's happening here so I am asking you to support me in working towards the following changes:
Crisis teams need to be able to act on the information provided by families. A point of contact within the family could be agreed with the GP/Crisis Team, or the information could be corroborated by more than one person in the family.
Crisis teams should at least agree to speak over the phone to someone in crisis who is under the influence of alcohol. Even just a brief conversation would give them insight into what is happening.
Intervention meetings should be available where families’ opinions and concerns are taken into account, they should be afforded the opportunity to be instrumental in obtaining support for their loved one and keeping them safe.
A clear process for escalating concerns should be available to families. Who should we phone? When do we phone them? What happens next?
It is too late for my loved one; I couldn’t get the help that he needed in time. Changes such as I’m suggesting will not happen overnight, but the clock is ticking and for some there is no time to lose.
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