TW: Suicide, Suicidal ideation
If you’ve had to use mental health services in the UK, you’ll probably know this already. I have several mental health diagnoses: depression has given me a whole heap of trouble, despite the fact it’s one of the minor mental health ailments I live with.
In January 2018 my doctor sent me to Casualty after I told her I was suicidal. I was referred to the Home Treatment team, and that was where the nightmare really began. Over the course of a week, I was seen by 5 different people, most of whom hadn’t read any of my notes, so I had to start from the beginning with them. Each one said they would return, or that I’d see a maximum of 2 people from the team. That didn’t happen obviously. What really made this all even more horrible was when I was seen by a black woman who ended up being very biphobic and queerphobic, and could hardly look at me after I spoke to her about how biphobia affected my life in a negative way. To get this behaviour from a professional in my own home felt truly awful.
I was also encouraged to attend a support group at a day centre. Again I was met with bigoted and racist views from a Clinical Psychologist who ran the group. I finally wrote a complaint letter in February. I met with 2 of the senior staff (one glared at me the whole time). They said they would review how things were done, but nobody apologised. In fact it was December 2018 before I got an apology from the head psychiatrist. She told me she would get an Occupational Therapist and a Psychologist to contact me after the Christmas period. I heard nothing until 4 months later, I phoned the mental health centre to discharge myself. I had barely ended the call when I got an incoming call from the Occupational Therapist apologising for the long wait. “Maybe you’ll think about staying with us,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about this for 4 months, and the answer is no,” I replied.
I love the NHS, but when it comes to mental health, things are chronically bad. There is no consistency of service, no awareness of multiple marginalisation, no LGBT+ training. The only thing in abundance is the volume of lies I’ve been told. There are no other services for suicidal adults in my part of London. I can’t get seen by another borough on the NHS. I have precisely zero options when it comes to this. Being suicidal is bad, but the way I’ve been treated has magnified that into being intolerable. These people are supposed to help, but they’ve made things far worse for me, and what tops it off is that the next time I’m suicidal, I’m supposed to go to Casualty where the only thing they can do is refer me to the same people who treated me like shit.