Whilst progress has been made on safeguarding on psychiatric wards there is still not enough recognition of the risks and vulnerabilities patients may present to each other in inpatient settings and a true understanding of how this relates to previous trauma.
The feeling of my surroundings being unsafe, and the emotional detachment caused by excessive use of medication meant that I was not able to successfully use the therapeutic interventions that I was offered.
I was eventually transferred back to the medium secure unit and then to supported accommodation in the community.
My experiences of community mental health services as I got better and regained my independence were very mixed. Some experiences were positive, but many were patronising, invalidating and seemed to be aimed at keeping me as a dependent child rather than encouraging me to move forward.
It seems to be the case that being considered well is dependent on agreeing with the views of the mental health professionals as to the causes of your distress and their ideas on how it should be treated.
As I became more confident and returned to work I felt that some professionals had to increase their levels of patronising and infantilising behaviour. This felt like something they did to somehow prove that they were better and more in control than me. I still had to be viewed as different, disordered and not capable of making rational adult decisions about my own life and certainly not as an equal.
As a result, I have chosen to have no contact with the mental health system and feel better for it.
I believe there are numerous kind and supportive individuals working in the mental health system. They do a difficult and demanding job and often do not receive the emotional support and training they need to do this safely and skilfully. I also realise that my behaviour has, at times, been a challenge to manage.
I have often wondered why jobs that look after material things are significantly better financially rewarded than jobs that look after precious human lives.
It is very sad that my feelings towards mental health professionals, however good they are, are now so tainted by my negative experiences of the system they I would find it very difficult to meaningfully connect with them if I needed to in the future.
Many of my experiences are a significant time ago and I am hopeful that some progress has been made towards ensuring similar things do not now happen. However, the whole ethos of the system with its psychiatrist led medicalised and medication focussed approach needs to change. Those who use it should be treated as damaged and vulnerable children in need of security and nurturing not stigmatised and seen as disordered collections of symptoms.
Events in the past year that have led to many experiencing trauma and suffering have highlighted numerous stories of individuals showing selfless acts of great human kindness and understanding showing that as a society we have the capacity to treat those in obvious distress with care and empathy.
It is my wish that the mental health system that we as the same society pay for, use and work in reflects this wealth of compassion and generosity of human kindness.
Written by Anonymous