Jumping Through Hoops

Before you access any kind of Mental Health services, you’d best be prepared to jump through hoops.

It is disgraceful and undignified. It is shameful that people who are already at their lowest are made to feel even lower, by care professionals. 

Before I fell into The Great Depression of 2014/2015, I had reached out to my doctor a few times. I think the first time was around 2010. The doctor put me on antidepressants. Not a single interest into my life. I didn’t get to speak to an actual Psych Dr until June 2016. I did so much jumping through hoops and pushing to get there, I thought I’d have to have myself committed into hospital to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, that is the reality for many ill people. They get taken into hospital before they get taken seriously about their ill-health. This is not a caring world. People reach out for help, are continuously palmed off with medication, and even not believed. Things get so bad for them, they end up in the hospital, or dead.

When I finally had my first assessment, the assessor – who was a Senior Community Mental Health nurse, said that I was lying. Diverted eyes, vague generic answers and ‘acting shifty’ were some of the expressions that he used. After it had taken me such a  long time to pluck up the courage to try to tell someone, and attempt to articulate exactly how I was feeling – he said I was lying.

What a fucking asshole. Unfortunately, yes, assholes also work in the care services.

I came to accidentally access that report from my GP, when I was seeing him for another issue. It popped up on the screen, I saw it, I asked for a copy of it. What was written about me – that I was lying, and child abusing my daughter was a huge trigger for me. It had taken so much courage to actually go to that assessment and bare my soul, only to be judged and called a liar. To top it off, during the assessment, the ‘nurse’ seemed to be kind. Ha! I was a vulnerable idiot.

After the crash from that trigger, I felt stronger. I fought my way into the mental health services and demanded treatments. I had to! Nobody was making it easy for me.

But almost a year on, I have still had no treatments. In June 2016 I asked for anxiety group work, emotional regulation group work, anger / stress management and 1:1 psychotherapy.

Despite asking about the referral at every psych doctors appointment since June 2016 (which was monthly) I was only put forwards for those therapies last month, April 2017. That has had repercussion for my health, my life and my daughter’s life. We have both been failed by the care services.

So many judgements, even from senior managers and other seniors of mental health teams. It is disgraceful. Vulnerable people are herded in and out of those mental health centres like sheep, one in one out. Give you the drugs, off you go. You want to talk? Don’t be silly time is money!

Nowadays, I can’t even discuss 2 problems with my GP. There are even signs up in the doctor’s surgery that say “One Appointment = One Problem”.

What the hell is that all about? What about if one problem only lasts 5 minutes, or 2 minutes – I’ve got minutes to spare! Next time I might just sit there and read him some poetry…  this is my time bitch. I’m using it 

😉

WHY is it so difficult to access the Mental Health services? Why must some of the societies most vulnerable people being made to jump through so many hoops? To prove that they are unwell. Just give them an assessment. I should imagine that it is rather difficult to keep up the pretense of being mentally unwell. And making people prove how unwell they are is why people who do not belong in mental health hospitals end up in them.

We as a society need to stop treating mentally ill people as con-artists.

I have read that sufferers of BPD can have their symptoms exacerbated by an unwarranted hospital stay. Usually these people just want someone to listen, to understand and to be believed and to be helped. It’s a disgrace that they must suffer even further and push themselves further into ill-health just to be taken seriously.

And then, or perhaps before then, the sufferers are made to jump through even more hoops just to be able to support themselves and their families while they recover. They will no doubt have to take some leave from work, or perhaps they quit their job or were fired from their job. So, already having to deal with that upset they are then treated with no dignity and respect as they ask for the help they need – sickness and disability benefits / payments.

The sufferer / patient has to attend an assessment to decide whether they are eligible for payments. Fair enough. But the assessment isn’t fair.

Usually the assessment is far from their home. They are forced to attend, or they receive no payments. If they cancel the assessment to rearrange, their payments just stop.

I have had experience with this. I did not attend 2 assessments as I was too anxious to leave the house and travel all that way on my own. I was too proud to ask for help, people had to go to work. I was also very scared about going to the assessment and being denied. So I waited for the DPW to receive all of my medical files from my GP and from the Community Mental Health Team, and let them base their decision on what actual doctors had written, instead of an ‘interview’ by a nobody with no real medical training. Because of that, I did not receive any kind of payments for months. During that time I had to use the local food bank and I ran out of gas / electricity a couple of times albeit only for a night or so. My daughter and I lived on £480 a month. Can you imagine the stress that this brought onto me whilst I was already feeling stressed and unwell?

Some people are still forced to go to these ‘interviews’ even though the DWP have received their documents, and sometimes actual folders documenting the persons illness and how it affects them and their lives. I am glad that I did not attend. I have read some awful, awful stories about people who have been denied help with benefits. It’s been in the news that people have taken their own lives due to the stress put onto them by these kind of assessments, and the governments refusal to help them. And the government are just getting away with it.

To force someone who has severe anxiety issues or who is severely depressed, or who has any kind of disability or illness to attend these ‘interviews’ is akin to abuse. It surely is an abuse of our human rights? It sure feels like it. If these people cannot manage daily tasks, or social interaction, or to even get dressed without being in pain – is it right to force them to attend an ‘interview’ that is usually miles from their home? No it is not! Any sane and decent human being will say that no it is not fair, the system is wrong.

Why isn’t the assessment be held in the patient’s home? In many cases the DWP will pay for people to get transport to and from these assessments anyway. So what difference would it make? It is all about money no doubt, and the fact that they have cameras in those places, maybe. I can see it now – in court ‘you didn’t have any problems handing in your appointment letter, we have it on video, and here you are laughing with your friend. How could you possibly be depressed?!’

The assessors are not medically trained. Some of them are ‘appropriately trained in disabling conditions and their effects on individuals’. What does that even mean? Sometimes they are nurses, but never are they actual doctors.

Most of the assessing centres have cameras that these ill people are being observed on from the minute they walk in until they leave. My first assessor reported that he “observed me chatting and laughing with my friend in the waiting area, with other people.” … and? It took a lot for me to go there that day and to not be a shaking nervous wreck. Next time should I go all dressed in black slitting my wrists in the corner of the room, or something – ?

I realise now that I was not having a proper mental health assessment, and the nurse in his notes even slips up and calls it an ‘interview’. I am going to complain to PALS about that assessment very soon. I do not know who else I can complain to yet, but I will be making some complaints. I have many to make.

Below, are some questions that are asked to people / patients / sufferers while they have their medical ‘interview’. The answers below may be applied if the patient meets the criteria of these assessment points.

This Q&A list was compiled by someone who worked for DPW conducting these type of ‘interviews’.

Was driven to medical exam?

Yes. Claimant has no difficulty sitting for long periods of time (Physical section)

Drove themselves?

Yes. Claimant has no difficulty sitting for long periods of time and has no problem initiating and sustaining action (Mental Health and Physical section)

Arrived by Public Transport?

Yes. Claimant has no difficulty standing, sitting or initiating and sustaining personal action (Mental Health and Physical section)

Appearance Clean and Tidy?

Yes. Claimant has no difficulty reaching, no difficulty with manual dexterity and does not need encouragement to dress (Physical section)

Arrived and went to Reception to give name and appointment letter?

Yes. Claimant does not have problems with memory and communication (Mental Health).

Sat down until doctor called your name?

Yes. Claimant does not suffer from Agoraphobia to any serious extent and can sit for long periods (Mental Health and Physical section)

Asked for key to use toilet?

No. Does not have problems with incontinence (Physical section)

……….

How is any of this deeemed fair in anyone’s eyes?!

People, who are disabled and very ill are being denied sickness and disability payments from our governements because of this unfair treatment. It has to stop! But will it? I doubt it.

Know your rights.

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