Monday, December 04, 2006

Why don't they see it coming?

Mental health services are failing to spot patients who are homicidal or suicidal, a report warns.

One person, on average a week dies at the hands of a mentally ill patient and 25 a week take their own lives.

29% of patients who committed homicide had seen mental health services in the previous week and 49% of those who killed themselves had done the same.

This is shocking and unforgivable. What will this Government do about this? Legislate I don't doubt. Problem = legislation should be New Labour's new mantra. Well before you try to change the law why don't you have a look at your system and see how it could work better?

The people who know best in situations like this are all too often ignored. How can a doctor, or social worker, or anyone else, who has known the patient only a short time, have more understanding of that person's condition than their friends and family? They can't and they don't.

Just before my friend went completely doolaley I remember calling his social worker, relentlessly. He had only known him for a matter of weeks. I told him he was ill, getting worse and something needed to be done. The social worker went to visit him. My friend is not stupid, even when he is mad he can pull the wool over a novice's eyes. I got a call the next day 'he seems fine to me'. His mother and sister and brother did the same, but still, apparently, the social worker knew better.

Too often in secure wards I have been treated like the enemy. I have ranted and raved and told them so. There is little effort to engage with supportive friends and families who are all desperately trying to help. The staff are there to clock there hours, do their job & earn their cash (there are gems who are invaluable and I don't want to generalise, but the committed staff are few and far between). People like me are just a pain in the arse.

The system needs a mind shift, not a law shift. We may not be qualified but we know the 'patients' better than anyone. It is time they started to listen.