Sunday, 21 April 2013

My CMHT - An Update

I've just realised that with all the publicising of my new magazine (check out if you haven't already!), I've not written about my CMHT for ages. So I thought I'd post an update about how rubbish my CMHT still is.

The last six months have been a nightmare when it comes to my CMHT. Writing the magazine and other things have helped me stay less stressed about the whole thing but I've still been really upset and wound up by them. The period of October last year to January is posted here for anyone who doesn't know.

So when I wrote that post, it would be another week before group therapy started. As I'd predicted, I didn't receive the 'extra support' I had been promised before starting group and in fact, received nothing at all. In my second week of group, I brought up the fact that I'd been without support for three months and asked if the psychologist could help with that. She raised it at a team meeting the following day and my psychiatrist apparently voiced how unacceptable it was for me to have been with nothing for so long. I received a phone call that afternoon and spoke to a duty CPN who told me she would forward my problem to the managers at my CMHT. Because of the issues I'd had with the male manager I wrote about in the post I linked earlier, I asked her not to speak to him.

What I didn't write about in that blog post was how, after apologising to the male manager for crying (an automatic reaction when I cry in front of anyone), he told me how a lot of women cry more when it's their time of the month. For one, he wasn't listening to how stressed I was by them and he didn't seem to think I could have been crying out of stress, and for another, how inappropriate is it for a male manager to say that to a woman? I only didn't write about that incident initially because I was so embarrassed by it.

Anyway, I received no phone call from the managers and I had to speak to the psychologist at group again about the situation and she assured me that she would get something sorted for me as soon as possible. She told me how a manager who had helped me when I was in hospital was now back at work and I asked if she would speak to her. She did a week later, and the female manager made an appointment to see me the following week. It was the first one-to-one support I had received in over three months, despite my psychiatrist telling me I would have weekly one-to-one support. She referred me to an OT who I saw a few days later and I did an assessment with her. When I received the assessment a few weeks later, it was wrong in several places. I wouldn't allow my parents to read it because I was so embarrassed by some things that were wrongly said in it.

The female manager saw me again two weeks later, but during the fortnight in between appointments, I was really struggling with group. It was really stressful for me, and I was coming home from group every week in tears. I told the psychologist I wouldn't be attending group the following week and would speak to the female manager about the problems and see if I could stop attending group. The psychologist told me how they were there to help me, not make me more stressed and if group was making me worse, it was sensible to stop. It kind of felt ironic, hearing that my CMHT were there to help, not stress me out as they'd been doing the opposite for months, but I didn't say anything.

As planned, I didn't attend group the following week and spoke to the female manager the day after. The meeting with her opened my eyes to who she really was, or at least, who she'd become since I'd last seen her when I was in hospital. When I knew her from hospital, she was someone who'd done more for patients than she had to and would do everything she could to help people. In this appointment, she seemed to be a different person.

In the appointment, I told her my struggles with group and how I wanted to stop. She told me how I didn't have to attend if I wasn't motivated to engage with services. 'Whoa, stop there!' I thought. I was (and still am) motivated to engage with services, it's just that the services they were giving me were stressing me out and they're not willing to give me the services my psychiatrist has told them to give me!! I had to tell her this several times before she seemed to get the message that I did want to engage with services and I did have motivation. However, I'm not entirely sure she did take in what I was saying. I left that appointment in tears (yet again), feeling like I would have got more from hitting my head against a brick wall than talking to her.

In the first appointment I'd had with her, which was mid-February, I had been told that my care coordinator was now back at work and would contact me to arrange an appointment with me. In the second appointment with the manager, she told me that she would speak to my care coordinator about making an appointment with me. Despite the frustration I felt at her, I at least thought my care coordinator would rearrange an appointment with me in the near future and hopefully the nightmare of the previous four months would be at an end.

Sadly, I was wrong. I waited for her phone call for weeks, too nervous to make the phone call myself in case I was spoken to in a similar way to how I'd been spoken to over the Christmas period. I also didn't think my parents should have had to endure their phone manner so I was waiting for the promised phone call. My wait was in vain.

At the end of March, exactly a month after the female manager was supposedly speaking to my care coordinator to get her to make an appointment with me, I received a letter from my care coordinator. It was a computer generated letter, supposedly dictated by her, telling me to attend my six-monthly review in mid-April. The letter set me off. I cried in sheer frustration from it for hours. However, it spurred me to do the one thing that people on Twitter have been telling me to do for months - make a complaint. I found the dates of the few appointments I'd had, phone calls and other details about the 'care' (or lack of it) from the previous five months and turned it into a emailed letter. I copied my local MP into the email, but as of writing this, almost three weeks after sending the email off, I have heard nothing.

I received a pretty standard letter from the Concerns team which told me that I would receive a detailed response to the issues I raised in thirty working days (i.e. six weeks). Hopefully that means I'll hear something from them in the next three weeks. However, back to my CMHT, less than 24 hours before my review, I received a phone call from the secretary of my psychiatrist who told me that my psychiatrist was unavailable the following day due to a prior commitment. (I was told what the prior commitment was, and it was something he would have known about for several days at the very least, so why did it take so long for someone to tell me?) I've not heard about a rearranged appointment yet, but as it's only been a week since the cancelled review, it'll probably be weeks yet before it's rearranged! (Yes, I'm cynical).

The day after I was told about the cancelled review, I received a phone call from the female manager who saw me two months ago. She told me how I was being transferred to a different care coordinator, who will be my eighth CPN/care coordinator with a CPN-type role, but about my twelfth care coordinator in total in the four-and-a-half years since being sectioned the first time. I asked her why she hadn't told me this sooner, but she told me she couldn't answer me because of the 'official complaint'. It was an extremely frustrating phone call; I told her that I'd been with nothing for two months and now she wasn't even going to answer my question. She responded to that by asking me like a five-year-old if  I was going to listen to what she had to say. I really felt like slamming the phone down, just like I'd had the phone slammed down on me a few months previously, but managed to stay on the line. She told me how she was going to write to me and make an appointment with the new care coordinator in the next few weeks. And she continued to refuse to answer my questions about the lack of support over the past two months and also the past six months in general.

So that's it to date. I've managed to avoid being a screaming loony running down the motorway in a bikini but I have been a screaming loony from the stress of them a few times. I'm looking forward to receiving the response to the complaint, as I believe it will be such a backside-covering response that the current government would be proud of it. I'm cynical about the complaint, as I seriously doubt anything will be done as a result of it. I would love for positive changes to come about as a result of my complaint, but I can't see it happening. While I'm not looking for anyone to be sacked as a result of it, I believe that the male manager who implied that I was crying because it was my 'time of the month' and whoever decided that it was fine to leave me with little or no support for six months (despite my psychiatrist saying 'weekly support') should be disciplined.

As a nutter, I have always had to face consequences of any wrong actions I have taken because of my illness. When I was on a section and tried to abscond (the posh word for escape), I either ended up on closer observations or, after one attempt, ended up in the locked ward. When I admitted to lying about my symptoms so that I could get out of hospital, I had a risk assessment done. Thankfully nothing came about of my confession, but I was terrified in case I ended up back in hospital. But whatever I have done wrong as a mental, I have faced consequences. So shouldn't those in charge of my care also face consequences for their wrong actions? Or should it be OK for the male manager to continue being sexist and for him and the other managers to continue neglecting vulnerable people?

I just hope that nobody takes their life while waiting for help from my CMHT. I am not going to take my life or anyone else's, but I can't speak for everyone else who is assigned to my CMHT. I hope that I am the only one being neglected and that I am unlucky, but I seriously doubt it. In the group I attended, there was another person who was neglected by them and ended up in hospital. Another person had also been without support for an extended period of time and nearly ended up in hospital. I can only hope that they have support now.

Wow, that was a depressing post. To make up for it, here's a picture of a cow photo-bombing a horse stuck in a fence.



  1. Hi.

    I came across this post when I typed "Why won't my CMHT engage with me" into the Google search engine.

    I can really relate to what you're saying here.

    I'm currently crying and feeling frustrated and angry at my CMHT (CPN and social worker) who should have contacted me this week as I threatened to end my life in a public place on Sunday evening; following which I were picked up by the police, placed on a section 136, and taken to the 136 suite at the local psychiatric hospital.

    At the hospital I were assessed and it was decided that I did not need to enter hospital at that time (there also weren't any beds available at the hospital where I were on the 136 and I was less than happy at the idea of going to a ward where there are staff whom I believe have a personal dislike of me).

    Anyway; as I am sure you can imagine, I'm very angry at my mental health for not having contacted me at all this week.

    It also angers me on another level as we (service users) are forever being accused of not engaging with the services, and then consequently blamed for feeling the treatment is failing us - which we then blame ourselves for also, and there sure isn't anyone that beats us up more than we do to ourselves - but (in general) there seems to be very little discussion of the services not engaging with us!

    I was told by the hospital staff on Sunday night to make sure I contacted on Monday morning... I didn't actually call them until Tuesday morning, but neither my CPN nor social worker was in the office so I left a message, I am yet to hear from them.

    I’m also currently undergoing assessment for a group therapy service at the psychiatric hospital which I have an appointment for this afternoon (Thursday). I am finding the assessment extremely taxing and after each assessment appointment I spend the rest of the days crying intermittently - I stop crying when something on my, forever in front of my eyes, laptop screen makes me chuckle (like a picture of a photo-bombing cow!). I feel that at this time especially I desperately need my team to engage with me.

    At the moment I am contemplating whether I will be able to make it to that therapy assessment appointment today. That support from the team needs to be there; I don't feel I can do this one my own.

    Like you; I have had to write more than my fair share of complaints regarding treatment under the CMHT. These types of complaints can, and sometimes do, make a difference (speaking from personal experience).

    The positive changes are often small, but they do happen, and my hope is that if enough of us get our displeasure and disappointment, at the treatment we are receiving for our mental health, noticed then at some point somebody has to take note of what we are saying - hopefully.

    Sadly there are far too many of us in this type of situation. It should be a relief to have an experience shared by many others in similar situations - it should be a relief to know, "at least I am not alone; others are going through this too" -
    but when it comes to this particular experience of feeling that we’re being neglected and/or mistreated by mental health care teams it is sad that others are going through similar crappy experiences.

    I wish you all the best of luck with your complaints; no way should you have been left for so long with barely any contact from your CMHT. I experienced similar with the CMHTs during a 6-month+ period whilst I were facing criminal prosecution involving a group of nurses after an incident on a psychiatric ward during I've been sectioned - I have a post on my own blog which details what happened to myself at that time.

    I’m disgusted at what the male manager said to you. There is much wrong with his comment... but I'm not in the right frame of mind at the moment to go into it, and also aware I'm still rambling on.

    I'll leave this here.

    Great post. I’ve not read your other posts, but I certainly intend to soon!

    Take care and good luck with your complaints regarding the CMHT.

    Nikki E.

    1. Hi Nikki,

      I feel exactly the same as you where you say it should be a relief to have a similar experience to someone, but feel sad that others are going through the same. Whilst I do sometimes find a small bit of comfort from knowing I'm not alone in my experiences, I don't like that others are going through the same as me.

      It's frustrating that despite being actively suicidal, you are being neglected. I can only hope that you did find the strength in you to attend your therapy assessment today. I feel annoyed, angry even, that because of all the NHS cutbacks, having a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar, having a chronic mental illness or even being actively suicidal won't get anyone much, if anything at all. I remember being told in hospital by nurses that I would receive support for as long as was needed. Either they were naive, or they genuinely didn't know the scale of how poor community care is. Going back to 2008 when I first was told I had psychosis (my diagnosis before schizophrenia), I was told after my discharge from being sectioned that I would see someone from my mental health team within 48 hours. As it was a Friday, they did say it could be Monday before anyone contacted me, but it was Wednesday before we had a response. However, to get that response, my dad had to phone them on that Wednesday and say, "My daughter was discharged from a section last Friday and was told she'd be seen within 48 hours, is anyone coming?" To which he received a response along the lines of, 'Sorry, we forgot about her.'

      Again, I wholly agree about you saying how services aren't assessed for how much they engage with us! And also, if we ever tell a lie, no matter how small, it goes against us for years. Yet, if they lie, we're supposed to forgive and forget instantly, no matter how much they did. I am cynical about this complaint. It is the first I have put in about them, as I was told by those who had the knowledge and authority, that a complaint would do nothing. Plus, even if they do apologise, what good is a 'Sorry' to me?

      To be brutally honest, I don't think my complaint will do any good and I believe my CMHT will try to discredit as much of it as possible, particularly the response to that comment by the male manager. I really believe they will say that I'm either lying or delusional. I really do. I'm yet to hear back from it, they said I'd hear within 30 working days (6 weeks) so only a couple more weeks to wait now.

      I really hope that you are getting support now. Yet unfortunately, I am having serious doubts as to whether you are or not. I've seen you live in London, and although I don't know what the support is like down there, I'm guessing it's not good. I can't understand why though, in a city as big as London. I can understand that a small area in Wales in neglected for being 'Up North' and 'Too Rural' to some degree, but surely not London?

      Anyway, please do fight to get help from your CMHT, but also look into charities for help, such as Samaritans, SANE and Mind. Keep fighting until you recover, because recovery is possible! I don't know what your diagnosis is, but look into specialist charities for your diagnosis too.

      Please keep fighting!
      Katy x