"mental health crisis"

About: NHS South Devon and Torbay CCG

(as a service user),

I have called the crisis team on four or five occasions during the last year. Mostly my experience has been on three of those occasions one of hurried indifference the advice even when I have overdosed has been to watch TV. I no longer feel the service is an option that will support me in finding safety for myself.

Compulsive acts of self destructiveness and the feelings of worthlessness and shame that arise with PTSD and dissociative states can be countered by empathy and kindness. As someone who has supported others during these kinds of crises I am shocked that the frontline service for mental health users should be so patchy.

I have commented on this to be told only to contact them when I haven't overdosed but if I haven't overdosed I am not taken seriously. I am wanting to be supported in not self destructing yet it feels like a catch 22 and that I am never supposed to contact them.

I have a strong desire to give my feedback constructively, as input into training for example. I have been told by my care coordinator that nothing can be done about the ways that crisis teams are run. I know that services are massively overstretched but there is a feeling now of blaming the mental health user for requiring the service. This is patently wrong and adds an additional burden of shaming and distress at a time when what is needed is empathy to support to re-empower the service user for find safety or the provision of a place of safety.

I now feel I must deal with these feelings alone or act them without involving any agencies. This is hard because I have both an aspect of myself which is strongly committed to being responsible and survival and I can lose to the compulsions that come from being in a flashback and overwhelmed by the feeling that death is the only way to end the pain and what others want of me.

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Response from Jo Curtis, Patient Engagement Lead, Engagement Team, South Devon and Torbay CCG We are preparing to make a change

Dear gianetti,

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience of the services we commission. I would like to have been able to let you know sooner that your story has been heard and I'm sorry that I didn't do this.

The experiences you describe make difficult reading for both commissioners and providers but I really appreciate your keenness to be constructive and help us make improvements. Now is a really good time to do this as we are just starting a process of redesigning urgent and inpatient mental health services and we want to do this in partnership with people such as yourself who know what they are like.

Next week (16th August) we have an event at Newton Abbot racecourse where people who use services, their carers can come and meet commissioners and people from Devon Partnership NHS Trust and tell their story. It will be an interactive day and will include the visual impact of people's experiences described through theatre. More information is here: http://southdevonandtorbayccg.nhs.uk/index.php/2012-05-05-21-22-02/latest-news

It would be great if you are able to participate in this but if you are not, there will be more opportunities in the autumn and new year for you to work with us if you are able. We want this kind of feedback to be constant rather than one-off.

Finally I just wanted to say that Derek O'Toole, our head of mental health commissioning has read your post and is happy for you to contact him if you would like to discuss anything further: derekotoole@nhs.net. I will also make sure that your post is read by Devon Partnership Trust, our providers of mental health services.

Thank you again gianetti for your posting and, despite the problems you have experienced, your willingness to help us.

Best wishes,

Jo Curtis

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Update posted by gianetti (a service user)

It was very good to get this response and I emailed Derek O'Toole to suggest a meeting to discuss this and related issues further but I have had no reply as yet.

As I pointed out to him, the other events are inaccessible to me due to my physical disabilities. I do hope I get the opportunity to give further input as to what works and doesn't work in mental health. Having supported people in crisis in various professional capacities as well as being a service user, I feel uniquely placed to understand both sides of patient care. I am sad at the thought that my efforts have been noticed but not really engaged with as this does not for me constitute a "change."

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