"My Journey Through the Services"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I want to tell you my story, giving you my thoughts and feelings of a journey that has taken me through many passages of services. It all started in an ordinary psychiatric hospital in 1972 where it was old school, everything was hush hush, and my family treated me like some sort of leper and couldn’t understand why I had been sectioned in hospital. Whilst there I had ECT which was barbaric you just went through the prongs and that was that, no support, no advice nothing just the treatment and then you were left to try and work out what was happening and why, I tried to explain things to my family but they just saw me in a different light as though I had two heads.

I had been sectioned and I was aware that 3 people had been involved in this process but again with no real information to go on just the bad feeling of how they made me feel and treated me, the stigma was and still is bad.

I was made to feel like an outcast and again not knowing the reasons just left on a ward with a lot of people who to me seemed very unwell I couldn’t understand why I was there and not in the comfort of my own home.

I tried to do all the right things so that I could get out of there, but I was continually made to feel as though what I had to say was not of importance and didn’t matter. Why was this happening to me? Who had the answers? This was as frightening for me as everyone else, but no one saw this they just made me feel worse.

Following this episode of my life I was then introduced to Forensic Services and transferred to Raeside in the early eighties. It was like a closed shop. My family were too frightened to come and see me as they thought the other patients were too violent and wanted to know what crimes they had committed, even though they may not have committed any crimes, they were clearly unwell like me, why could they not see this, did we all need to be wearing a plaster stating this. It was becoming more and more obvious that the stigma attached to my illness was very much in my face and no one cared no one.

Whilst in Raeside I had to go to the local hospital for out patient’s appointments and again I was made to feel as though I wasn’t of importance as the nursing staff only wanted to know why I was at Raeside, asking my escorts and not even me, was I now invisible as well. I remained at Raeside for eighteen months all the while things staying the same. Following this I moved to Ashworth and Rampton this was another episode of my life of more stigmas, no one wanting to explain things to me, leaving me to feel alone, afraid and wishing this was not happening to me.

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Response from Jane Danforth, Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Jane Danforth

Thank you for sharing your journey on Patient Opinion. You have obviously been through a great deal over the years.

I hope that now you are in a different hospital you will feel more able to speak out about your experiences and share them with Trust staff.

I would like to reassure you that staff are keen to listen and support you with the fight against stigma.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare encourages people to talk about experiences of being stigmatised through their mental health.

I hope you can progress from this point and move forward with your life. I have included information about our new postcard campaign to illustrate one of the many campaign resources we use to raise awareness.

If you would like to become more involved with the Trust Anti Stigma Campaign please call Jonathan Wright Anti Stigma Campaign Manager 0115 9691300 ex 10225

Fighting the stigma of mental health and learning disability

A range of postcards featuring local people with personal experience of mental health and learning disability issues has been launched by Nottinghamshire Healthcare as part of its ongoing anti-stigma campaign.

The postcards feature individuals who have used the Trust’s mental health, learning disability and substance misuse services and carers who have experienced discrimination themselves and witnessed it aimed at those they care for. Combining eye-catching images and frank quotes, it is hoped that the postcards will provoke thought and discussion about the ignorance and fear that surrounds many of the conditions which commonly affect people, but still remain a taboo subject.

Holly is 18 and has bi-polar disorder. She said: “Sadness is an emotion that everyone feels. If I’m sad, it doesn’t mean that it’s just because I’m bipolar. I still have normal emotions.”

35 year old Adrian has mild Down’s Syndrome and has been bullied his whole life: “People have always called me names. I used to get called ‘mongol’, ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘retard’ by my next door neighbour. That doesn’t feel good.”

The postcards also feature people talking about their experience of schizophrenia, dementia and self-harm.

The individuals featured and their quotes were brought together by service user Noel Oxford whose work on the campaign is part of his own ongoing recovery process.

Professor Clair Chilvers, Trust Chair said: “I think these postcards are absolutely stunning. I find them all very striking and emotive and hope that they will encourage people to think about how they view people with mental health and learning disability issues and ultimately how they treat them.

“Mental illness can happen to anyone at any time; in fact 1 in 4 will experience it in their lifetime and sadly many of those will also be affected by stigma and discrimination. I hope that through this campaign we can raise awareness and understanding and encourage people to talk openly about mental health issues.”

The postcards will be widely available across the Trust and at many public events including Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s Annual General Meeting in September.

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