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Stop the cut in services for Personality Disorders in Newham Council

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Clients currently receiving Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), within the Specialist Personality Disorder Service in Newham, have been told that there is uncertainty as to whether they will continue to be offered this support due to staff shortages, which were not adequately addressed by management. At present the information we have been given is that some of us may be offered ‘suitable alternative therapy’ despite having been required to sign a 12 months’ commitment contract to engage in this service. This change in service could occur in less than a month, which is very short notice for the clients currently in treatment.

The service manager had prior knowledge that staffing would be an issue facing the service and thus had time to ensure adequate measures were in place to address this problem. We would also like to highlight that there were no prior attempts to consult the clients about the possibility of services being cut and adequate warnings was not given in order to adequately prepare us for a change in our treatment.

Engaging in mental health services is the hardest decision one can make and making a commitment to attend sessions as required is just as hard.

The uncertainty of the current services has already caused many of the clients’ distress and aroused feeling of hopelessness. There are concerns that the cuts to service will not benefit the clients, as well the community in the end. There are many consequences on people with Personality Disorder when services are withdrawn, cut down or not available at crucial points in their lives. These include suicide, remaining ‘stuck’ in a cycle of torment and anguish from the intensity and instability of the condition, refusal to engage in services all together, break down in relationship, difficulties with day-to-day living.

Further consequences include reinforcement of feeling of the idea that ‘no one really cares’, ‘there is no point’, as well as feelings of invalidation that clients have had to deal with.

DBT has a very strong evidence base, which highlights its effectiveness at dealing with the difficulties people with personality disorders face and can help significantly improve one’s life. We have seen some of the changes and efforts made clients to engage in the therapy and practice the skills offered. We have found that talking about our experiences of abuse/trauma and how we have used to skills we have been taught to manage/deal with the daily difficulties were face living with the condition has helped us.

If the service is significantly cut or closed, this could put added strain on other mental health services in Newham and could possibly lead to re-referrals to psychological services due to alternative therapies not addressing the issues at hand.

We need help to ensure that this service is maintained for us and for future people who choose to seek support for their services.

Therefore, we call for Stephen Timms and Lynn Brown (Newham MPs) to intervene to force the manager of the psychological service in Newham to employs staff to cover the shortage so that service remains running at full capacity. to prevent current and future clients from being referred to alternative therapy and get the best treatment.

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