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Is the psychiatric response teams sicker than the patient?

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From our experience in supporting people with mental illness it is apparent that in many areas resources are very limited, community mental health teams are often overstretched and under funded and key workers may not always be able to spend quality time with each individual in his/her care. Government funding is not put into mental health in the way it is put into agencies and help for those with physical illnesses. Not only do those with mental illness have to cope with the illness itself, in many cases they are having to cope with the stigma of mental health which still exists, the lack of help and resources and support and often being rejected by their families and friends leading to chronic isolation.

Those with mental illness often feel that they are not given adequate say in their care and treatments and in many cases have had treatments forced upon them without any explanation as to the reasons for the treatment, the possible side effects, etc. Many people with mental illness are not made aware of their rights, and indeed are not aware that they have any rights at all. Many who are discharged from the mental health system are given no after care support to help them rebuild their lives in the community. It is vital that ongoing support is given to anyone who is recovering or working towards recovery in order that they can integrate into society and lead fulfilling and happy lives.

As a result it is very common for people with mental illness to have much anger and bitterness towards the mental health system but they may be offered no counselling or emotional support to deal with these feelings. This is important as often these feelings can hinder their recovery and healing. Instead of having the necessary help and ongoing support many people in the system or recently discharged from the system retreat into themselves and lead a lonely life with feelings of isolation, despair, helplessness, and a general feeling that nobody really cares. There are exceptions, of course, where in some areas improvements are being made for mental health users to be really listened to and a higher quality of care and support is given but we can only speak for the majority of our callers with mental illness that universally much more needs to be done to help anyone suffering with mental illness.

One in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness which can often be as a result of neglect, emotional, physical, sexual abuse in childhood and/or considerable trauma in adulthood. It is important for anyone with mental illness to try and regain some feeling of control in their own lives in order to move towards recovery, to really be listened to as to what helps them and works for them and what doesn't - they normally know best (except in the most severe cases). They know how to go at their own pace towards recovery, how far to push themselves, and when it would impede their recovery to be pushed too far when they are in a highly anxious state.

To work towards recovery and integration into the community those with mental illness need to be given the opportunities to make their own choices and decisions wherever possible in order to start regaining some control over their own lives and to help build up their confidence and self esteem. They may need reassurance and encouragement with this but they find it extremely patronising and disabling to be continually told what is good for them without any consultation with the individual person as to what he/she feels would help in his/her recovery, and to have their feelings and thoughts devalued and/or ignored. A person with mental illness can feel hurt, pain, frustration, anger, just like anyone else and wants to be treated as an individual in his/her own right - not as a 'number' in the system.
Because at the end of the day who really cares, because feeling isolated and alone with a mental illness is more damaging than anyone subsequently realises, feeling despondency and disconnected in society is the biggest killer. There are plenty of people who will offer help and support, plenty who say they understand, plenty who empathize, but will they step up to the plate and offer a genuine hand or like most of my own personal experiences just fade back into the system leaving vulnerable people alone with the will to live relegated to be replaced by the need to die a sad lonely death.
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replied December 19th, 2013
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