The UK mental health service

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The UK mental health service is one of the best free services in the world. I have first-hand experience of the system from acute wards to PICUs (Psychiatric Intensive Care Units). I’ve been through the process of being sectioned and detained many times and have spent time hospitalised for around seven years in total.

If someone is a danger to themselves or to others they end up being detained under a section 2 or a Section 3. A person who is sectioned has the right to appeal. Under a Section 2 a person may be held by force for up to 28 days for assessment. Under a Section 3 a person can be detained for up to six months.

I have found generally that you are treated with dignity and respect but I have seen people being forcibly injected because they refused to take medication.

Up to the sixties, lobotomies were quite common in the UK, but thankfully this practice no longer takes place, although ECTs are still used.

In America, padded rooms are still used alongside straitjackets, thankfully I have never experienced either although I was confined to a ‘Extra Care Area’ at a PICU. In the ECA there is only a mattress and a pillow and a toilet and shower. It used to get claustrophobic, but there were two members of staff there day and night.

I have also been injected on my first ever admission and slept for more than 18 hours. I also believe that doctors shouldn’t have so much power over patients.

In many countries in the world, mentally unwell people are treated very badly and are even beaten and hidden away from society due to facing shame. Very importantly, I was given antipsychotic medication but wasn’t warned of the potential side effects including hunger and weight gain due to which I ended up developing diabetes.

I met so many inspirational and compassionate nursing staff at various units over the years. At some PICUs I saw members of staff sworn and spat at and even assaulted. But they would never hold a grudge and treated people firmly when needed but with respect.

It is hard to be forced to stay in hospital for months or even years on end, without any beneficial courses such as IT or Maths and English or a language.

But overall the service has helped so many service users with a wide variety of mental health issues. There is so much that can be improved but it is still a great service.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It is amazing how you have gained perspective as a long-term patient and can now appreciate the care you received. This is a refreshingly unbiased look at the system. Well done!

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  2. This article was extremely informative. I learnt so much.

    I feel more could have been mentioned about your own personal experience and what you feel the NHS could do further to improve their services.

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