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I would like to share my experiences of being a mental health patient. I was referred to mental health services, as I had planned to commit suicide. A Mental Health Act (MHA) Assessment (which is used to decide whether an individual should be sectioned) was arranged, but as a doctor was not able to arrive on time, thankfully this never went ahead, but it shows just how useless the service is.
I was then seen by two mental health nurses, from a mental health crisis team, a few days later. One nurse told my sister that I had been to A&E multiple times, when I have been 4 times in 24 years, (at 13, 21, 23, & 24), which demonstrated her poor comprehension skills and or dishonesty. She also fiddled with her acrylics and rolled her eyes, which gave me the impression that she was trying to discredit my experiences and the seriousness of my emotional distress, which was rude, unprofessional & lacking in empathy.
When I discussed bullying that I had experienced as a student nurse, both nurses stated that they had trained in the same trust, and not been bullied, which was a way of further discrediting my experiences, and their experiences were not relevant to my assessment at all. The male nurse then said that if I did not engage with a home treatment team, and a community mental health team (CMHT), that he would arrange a MHA assessment.
However, I didn’t engage with the home treatment team, as the staff were bone idle, and unable to answer basic, mundane questions such as "What is your name?" but a MHA assessment wasn’t arranged. So, the nurse had used a section as a proxy, which is the threat of a section as leverage, and is an abuse of professional power. I wasn’t referred to CMHT either as the crisis team were useless and didn’t make the referral.
I was then seen by the male nurse from the crisis team again, with a female social worker. He said he would like to see me one more time, before he discharges me. He also asked me whether I had posted about staff involved in my care on Facebook, and I had done so.
I was advised to write this in a Poundland notebook, and complain to organisations, rather than post on social media, which was intrusive, and I am free to discuss my poor care with whom and where I want, and this was not relevant to my assessment, and as a patient I am not duty bound by confidentiality.
I was then seen by the same nurse again and the service manager a few days later. In a phone call prior to the visit I told the nurse that I still had some cleaning to do, before they arrived.
“That’s fine, no need to kill yourself over it.”
I broke a bit more inside when he said that.
During the visit he asked me whether I had contacted my university lecturer, as I said that I would during the last visit, but I was upset the day I planned to call her and hadn’t done so, and I didn’t need to justify myself to him. He then said that he would contact her and share my three assessments with her. I told him he didn’t have my permission to do so, and he told me he didn’t need my permission.
He also said he wasn’t going to discharge me because I was
"anxious," and had "reacted to something small," and that he’d used
I wasn’t anxious, I was angry and upset, which are normal reactions to abuse of power, and abuse of power is no small thing, and his ‘professional judgement’ is severely impaired.
He also said he was going to "arrange a professional’s meeting and invite my university lecturer," and "it would be decided whether a MHA assessment was needed."
I challenged him on this and asked him and his manager what their reason was for this, and what professional code, legislation or trust policy would justify sharing my confidential healthcare information, without my informed consent, with my lecturer, and they weren’t able to answer this.
I also challenged him about his suicide joke, and he did not acknowledge or apologise for this, which shows he lacks insight and remorse. I became quite upset during this assessment, and the manager responded by smiling. My upset, and distress was giving her something to smile about.
The manager then ended the visit with “It was nice to meet you Gul,” and I replied “Well, it wasn’t nice to meet you Liz.”
I then contacted the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), and was advised that unless the trust had a policy which stated that my healthcare information could be shared with a university lecturer, then if it was shared, confidentiality would be breached. I then called the complaints department and was told that the information governance policy did not state that my healthcare information, could be shared in this way, and I was emailed the policy.
I also asked my lecturer if my assessments could be shared with her and she said "No, as I had the right to a private life," and when I asked whether she could be invited to a meeting about my healthcare, she said "Absolutely not."
The male nurse then called me the next day, and I told him I didn’t want to speak to him, as I had complained about him. My lecturer also told me that he had called her, and she told him he could not discuss me with her.
I then called the crisis line twice, for an update on my healthcare, and both call handlers refused to give me this information, so I was unaware what my care and treatment was, whether a "professional’s meeting" had been arranged, and whether I was even still a patient. I was told that I could not be updated about my healthcare because I had made a complaint, despite this contravening the trust’s complaints policy.
So, a MHA assessment was not arranged, and neither was the so-called "professional’s meeting," and after 8 days of being kept in the dark, I was called to say I had been discharged. I have now raised a formal complaint, with the help of an NHS complaints advocate, and if I’m not satisfied with the outcome I shall make a referral to The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
I have also referred the 2 crisis team nurses and their manager to the Nursing and Midwifery council (NMC), for dishonesty and abuse of professional power. A senior nurse and a service manager not being aware of their own trusts policies, and what it enables them to do and not do with patient’s confidential information is an organisational failure, so for that reason I referred the Trust to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). I will also contact The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for the attempted breach of The Data Protection Act (1998), and I will share my experiences with Care Opinion, Healthwatch, NHS improvements, and The Patient Experience Team.
Overall, the mental health staff were abusive, bullies, callous, coercive, dishonest, disrespectful, judgemental, and completely and utterly useless, and have only traumatised me further.
I’m still suicidal, and it’s taking everything in me and everything out of me to stay alive. I do need help for my mental health, but because of the actions of the mental health staff, I’m too afraid to seek the help. If it wasn’t for my sister, my close friend and my own resilience I would be dead.