Question and answer session with my friend who is also a mental health patient

Yesterday, Friday 30th March 2018, I went to visit my friend Tay. I have known Tay for almost 10 years and even back then she had some anxieties. I lost contact with Tay for a while and then we got back in touch. I had not realised what Tay had been going through over the past few years and how bad her mental health had taken hold of her. It was not until I watched a YouTube video she had done that I realised what an awful time she has had. This was a blank video, you could not see her face, just how upset she was and describing what she is going through. It hurt me a lot to hear my friend like this. To know she had been through so much and I was unaware and unable to help. Furthermore, I thought how incredibly brave she was for speaking so openly about her health. Tay, even back then, never liked having a photo taken of her. She always hid her face from the world. Now she has started talking more about her health and wants to hopefully help others with it. She recently posted a vlog and her face! I was so proud that she has achieved this! It was great to see her talking and not hiding behind an object to do so.

During my time working in healthcare or during placements, I have come to notice there is an area for improvement in the communication between healthcare professionals and mental health patients / dementia patients.

There seems to be some form of fear of mental health patients? I have personally witnessed, FANTASTIC nurses, go into a patient with mental health issues and their communication levels dropped in comparison to those that had no mental health issues. Why is this? Why do people put a barrier up like this? To be honest, I failed the patient myself because I did not question those nurses. I did not have that conversation of ‘why have you just treated that patient different to the last?’

For me personally, I treat everyone equally. It does not matter what walk of life you come from, who you are etc. You will get the same, best care, possible as the next patient.

‘1.4 million people referred to NHS mental health therapy in the past year’ (NHS England 2017) Reference from

With these statistics, more needs to be done. I said in a previous blog I wanted to come up with something to raise awareness around all of this and I am starting here. With my friends’permission, I asked her if we could do a Vlog yesterday, we did not end up doing the vlog but I asked her to write everything down and I will put it into a blog with her consent. I wanted a question and answer sort of session of her personal experience as a mental health patient. How she feels and what else can be done. This will hopefully make people aware of how they treat individuals with a variety mental health issues in the future and hopefully change the way we view patients.

Just because someone has mental health issues does not make them less human.

Claire: Q1- How do you think people view you?

Tay: I once got told by a psychiatrist that I just have a very good imagination, this made worry that people would view me as someone who is making things up in the way I feel and I doubted myself for a while, the thoughts of “am I really hearing voices” or “what if I’m not mentally ill”, also the way I look is always commented on as I have coloured hair/15 facial piercings and a face tattoo, which I think they assume I’m a bad person for the way I look.

Claire: I have experience this myself, I have a tattoo on my wrist of a sunflower and a patient commented on this saying, ‘I did not expect that of you Claire, it is a common thing to have.’ I just laughed it off but it did make me feel upset that it is seen as that. So, I can fully understand this.
Claire: Q2- What has been your best experience of treatment you have received from NHS team?

Tay: My best experience was from a psychiatrist in 2014. He listened to me for 2 hours and made me feel I could open up and not be ashamed of how I was feeling, he got very in-depth with what I was experiencing and really took the time to listen to me. He also gave me a lot of information on the problems I was dealing with which is the first and only time I have had that in the 16 years I have been with the mental health team.

Claire: Q3 – What was your worst?

Tay: I’m going to be honest and say sadly most of my experiences with the mental health teams in the NHS have been bad, some worse than others. But my worst experience has to be when I went to A&E after self-harming, I needed my wounds glued. I was made to wait 9 hours, I had no psychiatric help, but the worst part of it was I had to have a tetanus injection, the nurse looked at my arms and said, “I need to give you a tetanus injection but I mean you wouldn’t care, look at the state of you”. This made me feel even more emotionally hurt than I was already feeling.

Claire: This comment from the nurse, actually shocks me! I cannot believe someone can be so cold to a patient who is already hurt and needs that reassurance. If I was to hear any comment like this, I would be reporting that nurse. That is so unprofessional and judgmental and that is not why we are here. I am sorry that Tay has been at the end of these comments from people that she should trust.
Claire: Q4 – As a patient what do you think the most important thing as a healthcare professional can do?

Tay: Listen. 100% listen to the patient. For me my medication helps take some of the symptoms away, but having someone who takes time to listen and is compassionate, really helps you feel not so alone.

Claire: Q5. – How would you change treatment you receive/how can we improve as nurses to give the patients the best care possible?
Tay: Again, I think it is taking the time to understand the patient, not make them feel rushed, make them feel like they are in a safe place where they don’t feel scared and listened to. I think day centres would be an amazing thing instead of just in patient care or a one-off appointment so people would have a place to go and be around others with similar experiences so they felt like they have a place where they are not judged.

Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂 If anyone would like to watch Tay’s vlogs they are here: Tay’s vlogs

Tay is a very talented person and creates art like this, I keep saying she needs to get it published! I absolutely love it. What do you think? 🙂

Tay image

 

 

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34 years old and finally achieving my dream of becoming a nurse.

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