"The invaluable support of occupational therapists on psychiatric wards"

About: East London NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health Tower Hamlets PCT

(as the patient),

I suffer with Borderline Personality Disorder and over the last two years I've unfortunately been admitted to psych wards because I attempted suicide three times.

I'm 29 and when I was first admitted at the age of 27 it was the first time I had ever experienced life on a mental health ward. I was extremely unwell for the first week but after the medications began to work I suddenly found myself consciously lost in what at times seemed like hell on earth, it was chaotic and frightening.

It was a mixed ward with over 20 patients all with different diagnoses, and the nursing staff were mostly always completely run off their feet leaving us to sit around all day watching TV. Locked up with nothing to do but think about where I was, was enough to plunge me further into despair.

However, every morning the OTs would hold a daily meeting where we could voice any concerns or complaints and provide us with scheduled activities to participate in. Some of the activities included relaxation which was great as I was having a really hard time managing my anxiety and also suffering side-effects from new medication. Others included drumming (great for stress relief and getting the quieter patients to interact) and poetry reading.

A particularly aggressive young patient, whom I had been intimated by, really blossomed during the poetry reading and we got talking and I found myself relating to her. It was extremely moving at times watching patients that were so locked within themselves suddenly appear, through engaging in creative activities.

Every OT I have met in my time on wards has always been there to listen, never judgemental, and a positive, caring and calming influence. They play a vital role in treating mental health and my experience in hospital would have been a lot worse without them.

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