I brought the Hastings Observer last week, expecting a letter in your letters pages regarding the death of Sally Brampton. I got to the last letter written by David Barry.
When I saw Sally’s death on the front page of the Observer, my first reaction – as someone with mental health issues and a so-called service user – was this is not news, especially to service users. It’s happening more times than your paper reports.
The sadness about Sally’s story is that she did one of the hardest things a mental health sufferer has to do. She asked for help. You cannot believe how hard that is to do.
Her doctor made the right call to the mental heath team. But what happened? Nothing for poor Sally and her family, except an empty promise of a phone call that never happened. This would have raised her anxiety and would have had a big impact on what is already a crisis.
This happens more times than you think. When the crisis team do ring you, as they once did to me, their answer on an anniversary of someone very dear to me was ‘put the TV on’, and why? ‘To distract yourself from your feelings’. My answer was ‘I want to feel these feelings, but just need someone to share them with’. Other advice they give is – ‘put some music on, read a book or go for a walk’.
Sorry, but I can’t repeat my answer. Oh, and I forgot to say, most service users feel, and have said they only give you about 20 minutes.
It probably won’t surprise you that, since my experience, I have vowed to myself never to ring out for our services or the crisis team.
My condolences go to Sally’s family, because you would have thought the mental health services would have improved by now.
Having said all this, after being in the mental health system for over 28 years, I have a fantastic psychiatrist, who does listen to me, and knows my views. I also have a brilliant CPN, and I feel very lucky. My GP is always there to listen to me.
Sadly, she’s leaving in December, but no doubt there will be others at the surgery, who will be there for me.
To those working in the mental health service, who get it right – they should be praised, and there are some who do it for the right reason, which is they care for people.
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