"mental health in Leeds"

About: Specialist services / Primary care mental health service

(as the patient),

Earlier this month I was referred by my GP to the psychiatry service in Leeds. A lady from the hospital called me at work before Christmas. She didn't introduce herself, she wasn't friendly and she proceeded to assess me out of the service (presumably because they are understaffed). When you feel depressed it’s hard to assert yourself with someone in authority. You want to feel cared for and that people want to help you; I felt quite the opposite. She told me that she would speak to her team and get back to me. She never did.

I week later I received a letter from the Leeds Primary Care Mental Health team (IAPT) inviting me to call them to make an appointment ‘if you do not contact us within 14 days you will be discharged’. Seriously, who are these people? Do they have any understanding of depression? I didn’t call, why would I?

I’ve had an awful Christmas and in desperation I called the service today. The message I was greeted with was that there was no service at the current time. I can only assume that they are short staffed over Christmas. Not only that but there was no information about when they might start running again and no details of who I should contact if I was desperate (like the Samaritans, for example).

I’m sick of hearing politicians and healthcare managers telling me how important mental health is. My experience as a patient is that the current service is unwelcoming, understaffed and under-resourced. It’s time to stop the lip service and start making real investments in services for people with mental ill health.

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Responses

Response from Clare Wyke, PALS and Patient Experience Manager, EMBED Health Consortium

Dear Rising Sun,

I am sorry to hear that you did not receive the care and attention that you needed from the Mental Health Services you were referred to; especially given the challenges you describe about reaching out to people or being assertive when experiencing depression.

I work for one of your local Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) and our team will be happy to listen and support you when the office re-opens tomorrow 8.30-4.30 (Friday 2nd January). You can contact the team in confidence on 0800 0525 270 or by emailing WestYorksPALS@nhs.net

Our PALS team will be able to direct you to the most appropriate support services or liaise with the ones you have been referred to if you wish.

Alternatively, if you require urgent support might I suggest the following services:

- Connect supports people in crisis, as well as providing a preventative service, by supporting people before they reach crisis point. The Connect Helpline is 0800 800 12121 and is available today (1st January) between 6pm and 11pm, as well as other evenings.

- Dial House is a place of sanctuary. Visitors can access Dial House when they are in crisis, relax in a homely environment and can also have an hour of one to one support from the team of Crisis Support Workers. You can call them on 0113 260 9328

- The Samaritans offer telephone support at anytime of the day; 08457 90 90 90

There is also a very useful webset with lots of information about support services in Leeds www.leedsmhdirectory.co.uk that you may find useful.

I really hope that you are able to find the strength to contact us or one of these alternative services as I appreciate how difficult it can be to reach out for support whilst suffering with mental ill health. As a result it is even more important that services are compassionate and responsive.

Best wishes for a peaceful recovery

Clare

Clare Wyke

PALS and Patient Experience Manager

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Update posted by rising sun (the patient)

Thank you for your kind words Clare and for emailing on New Years day (which I'm sure isn't in your contract).

I think what is needed is a complete overhaul of mental health services in the UK and a significant investment from our politicians. We have two week waiting times for cancer referrals but patients seeking urgent support with their mental health have poor services and are kept waiting for months. Only when mental health is given the same priority at physical health will we see a service which meets the needs and priorities of patients.

Today is a good example of this. I was called by IAPT on Friday late in the afternoon, out of the blue and while I was at work. They wanted me to carry out a telephone assessment there and then. I was really busy at work and had nowhere private to go to talk to them so I asked to re arrange. I work 9-5 so Saturdays, Sundays and evenings would be good for me. Unfortunately the IAPT service does not operate outside 9-5. I can’t be the only one who works 9-5, why is the service not meeting the needs of its patients (customers!) by providing an accessible service? I agreed to book some time in my diary today (Monday) for them to call me. They never did.

Making contact with mental health services is such a hard thing to do. You feel ashamed because you can’t cope, vulnerable because you can’t speak to anyone about how you feel and confused because you can’t make sense of your thoughts. When you finally make the decision to seek help and this is the response, it sucks the last bit of hope you have.