The complaint process is something I am currently going through and it has not been an easy ride. I was unsure of whether to complain at all because I didn’t want the hassle on top of everything else and neither did I want to make it awkward between me and the staff member I was making the complaint about. Then I realised that actually I matter and this matters. It’s important that the issue is raised and the staff member is educated otherwise her comments could haunt me for years to come. You are entitled to, and have a right to complain about the care you are given. If you would like to make a complaint about the care you have received then contact the service and ask for their complaints procedure.
Stigma surrounds our society. It means that something perceived as different is seen as unacceptable and this leads to prejudice. There is stigma around the LGBT community and mental health among many other issues our society deals with. Stigma can be devastating because it isolates people and makes it harder to reach out for help and support. It prevents people from socialising, visiting GP surgeries and can even lead people to suicide. “The effects of stigma and discrimination about a mental health problem can be worse than the mental health problem itself” says Louise Penman from Time To Change.
This is why it is so important that people speak out about mental health in general and people share their experiences of mental illness because we need to get rid of this stigma from our society. Imagine a society where people could discuss their mental health easily and openly rather than keeping it as some deep, dark secret. Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air?
The GP plays such a vital role when it comes to eating disorders. They are the key holders to all other services and provide referrals to eating disorder services and community mental health teams as well as referrals for the physical effects of eating disorders such as bone density scans.
The GP is the foundation upon which the rest of treatment is built. They often monitor the patient’s weight and do regular blood tests. They are often the first port of call for the sufferer. This is why it is so important that GPS have training and understanding in eating disorders.
I had been ill for years but when I went to the GP to ask for help I was terrified. It shocked me to see the words ‘anorexia nervosa’ on my notes and I so desperately needed help. Despite the low weight and terrible mental state I was told to come back in a month. A month is a long time for someone so desperate and poorly. I couldn’t see how I could get through another month and out of sheer fear and desperation I took an overdose which hospitalised me and resulted in a CAMHS referral and a referral to the eating disorder service.
Usually GPs continue to support the patient whilst they are under the care of mental health services monitoring both weight and bloods and it is important that GPs know how to support and talk to the patient in a way that is supportive and full of understanding.
Eating disorder awareness week is fast approaching and this year the focus is on early intervention. Eating disorder week is from the 27th February to the 5th of March and Sock It To Eating Disorders Day is Friday 3rd of March. You can order your socks from Beat the eating disorder charity here
I will be blogging throughout the week and of course I’ll be wearing my Beat socks, don’t forget to use the hashtag #SockItSelfie
I’m going to try and get the nurses to join in and wear their silly socks. I will find a way to raise awareness even if it is from my hospital bed. In previous years I’ve climbed mountains for Beat but this year I’ll do my best in the situation I am in.
You can donate to Beat here
I was amazed to receive an email congratulating me on coming in the top 60 mental health blogs on the planet. Mental illness Talk came in at number 41.
The link can be found here
Primary care could be so useful when helping those with mental health problems. GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists are most peoples’ first point of contact and if that care was spot on then it would have a significant and positive effect on patients. Unfortunately there are a lot of difficulties with primary care and it is very much a post code lottery as to the quality of care a person receives.
When a patient breaks a leg they are classed as an emergency and get treatment on that day but when someone’s mind breaks they are often left untreated for a very lengthy wait whilst the mind becomes more and more damaged. The first difficulty with primary care is access. It can be very difficult to access a primary care professional because of the wait for an appointment, in some parts of the UK there is a 6 week wait at a GP surgery. It can be particularly difficult for certain groups to access a GP surgery such as those that are homeless and haven’t got an address to register and the same with young people who may move around a lot due to being a student and therefore have to keep registering with services. Young people may also not have the confidence to book an appointment and go along to the surgery.
Once a patient has made an appointment with a GP then the appointment itself has difficulties, for example the consultation can feel quite rushed if the GP is running late and the patient may not feel listened to or understood. I have found that my GP has been quite dismissive, particularly as I have an eating disorder. Any symptom I have is automatically connected to my eating disorder but actually it is possible to have a mental illness AND a physical illness.
Sometimes the patient may not feel that they have a lot of choice in their treatment, for example if their GP is only offering them medication and not talking therapy then the patient may not feel they have any other option. If that patient does get a referral to a service such as IAPT then the waiting times are yet another difficulty. Some people have waited 18 months with very little support from primary care professionals, the waits are so long that people are worrying that they have dropped off of the system. Patients with existing or emergent mental health conditions should not be living in fear of falling through the gaps in the system.
Primary care could be incredibly effective in helping those with mental health problems. It could provide early intervention and help people before the illness turns into a long term health problem or requires inpatient treatment or years of therapy. It could be effective not only in terms of minimising suffering but it could also be financially effective as patients may be able to remain in work and require short-term treatment.