"Mistreated by police and mental health services"

About: King's College Hospital (Denmark Hill) / Trauma and orthopaedics South London And Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust St Thomas' Hospital (London)

(as the patient),

Please excuse the length, I have been trying to find somewhere to share my view for ages and have a lot to get off my chest.

For the last 6 years, I have been struggling with mental illness, and for the past few years I feel I have been completely mistreated by the mental health and police services.

Last year I was taken to A&E as I had overdosed. After a long wait, there was no bed for me, and I had to sleep on a chair with a drip in my arm.

Before this I was refused help many times when coming into A&E to try and get help. Every time I went, in the mental health team was called and id have to wait several hours before they turned up even when it was in hours (before 6). They would talk to me, then send me away with no help or support. Id be in A&E nearly every week because of self harm or fear I would kill myself but still no help. Thats when I decided to take an overdose. Finally after months of trying to get help I was sent to Maudsleys adolescent ward, Snowfields to be a day patient. I was confused as to why it had to get to that stage before I got help. I was hopeful that my life would turn around, but I was let down by poor staff and felt ridiculed by them and the doctors there. I was diagnosed with emerging borderline personality disorder and after that it seemed no body took me seriously at all.

Some of the staff were nice, others treated me like I was just a moody teen that wanted attention. I received little to no specialist care while I was there and made no improvement. The staff watched me as I hit my head on the wall with frustration, they watched me break my knuckle and give myself a concussion and still denied me help. After that I discharged myself, but no one tried to make me stay. I felt so angry and hurt that I couldn't get help.

After a short trip to a&e the same day for my hand, I discharged myself and ran away. I felt I was destroying everything around me, I was so ill it was breaking my family apart. My mum called the police and they picked me up from fulham and took me to streatham police station where I was sectioned. The first person to take me seriously was the officer that dealt with me. He seemed like he actually cared what happened to me, unlike the people in Snowfields.

I was taken to an inpatient ward after it had been arrange by the police through contacting them only to be refused at the door because the police did not pick me up in the right borough. I went back to the police station and fell asleep to be woken up at about 3am by the same man that I had seen in a&e many times that told me to go home and offered no help. He asked if I wanted to go home, dazed I said yes as I think anyone in that situation would do and he sent me home, only advising my mum to call the police again if anything happened. The police man who sectioned me was disgusted as he felt that I really needed help, he told me he was going to make an official complaint.

The next day I broke down and my mum called the police again. She wanted me to get help, they had said they would help me. They asked if I had hurt anyone, and my mum said I threw a tea towel at her. I was arrested for assault. They didn't tell my parents I had been arrested, they just took me out of the house and told them I was going to get help.

I was held in Peckham custody for 22 hours and wasn't even questioned. I was restrained and handcuffed when I hit my head on the wall, the handcuffs sprained and badly bruised my wrist. I had to have 2 police officers watching me at all times to make sure I didn't hurt myself. I even had to have a female officer in the room while I used to toilet. I felt that if I was really that unsafe, if I was that much of a danger to myself, why am I here and not getting help? Why am I not in a hospital when I was sectioned just yesterday? When my parents finally were told where I was they dropped charges. I hadn't hurt them, id done nothing wrong, the police lied to them when they said they would get me help.

I felt so alone and hopeless. I felt like it could never get better if this is how I will be treated. I didn't think anyone cared or believed I was ill even when to me and my family it was so obvious. In september 2013 I took another overdose. Back in kings a&e (this time with a bed) I laid hoping this would be the time I got help. In the morning I met the professor of child psychiatry, who took me seriously and referred me to Bethlam royal hospital as an inpatient.

Again though, I was let down. The staff were okay but most were trainees. They read my old reports and agreed with the diagnosis of emerging personality disorder and again things went downhill from there. I had no therapy, no help. They just treated me like I wanted attention, that I was lying about my problems. I hated being there with no help, all they did was tell me to go to the hospital school. So I broke out and ran away. The staff hadn't even noticed the sound of me and 3 others kicking down a fire door. 4 hours after I went missing they called my mum to let her know she was appalled that a secure unit could let that happen. I had to go back to explain what had happened, the doctor just said "if you are not serious about this you should just leave" He was right but I still felt I needed help. After being there only a month, I left without knowing where to turn next.

I struggled through the end of the year and was eventually referred to the Michael Rutter centre at Maudsley in January 2014 for treatment from the forensic psychology team. For the first time I feel listened to and taken seriously. Things have got a little better, but I still think back to how I was mistreated and find it very hard to trust services now.

Mental health services need to change, and I'm not the only one that thinks that. Police need to be taught how to deal with people with mental health problems, and mental health services need to work with hospitals and A&E to optimise the available support for people in mental 'crisis'.

Thanks for reading, please comment and tell me about your experiences so that we can start to make a change to child and adult mental health services in the UK.

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Responses

Response from Rachael Twomey, Patient Information Lead, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for sharing you experiences of treatment for your mental health condition across these different services.

We are sorry to hear that you are not happy with the treatment you had at Guy's and St Thomas' Emergency Department. We aim to see all our patients in a timely manner but unfortunately at busy times this is not always possible. Maintaining patient safety is always our priority. The A&E Matron has read and reflected on your feedback. However, it is difficult for the service to comment on this particular episode without having full details.

If you would like any of your experiences at Guy’s and St Thomas’ to be looked at further, PALS (patient advice and liaison service) would be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate members of staff. You can telephone PALS on 020 7188 8801 or 020 7188 8803. Alternatively you could email pals@gstt.nhs.uk. PALS aim to respond to all voicemail messages and emails within 24 hours.

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