The mental health crisis team is invaluable and it needs more funding to make it work
Posted on 7/08/2017 by
It can be a source of support for when people need it the most
I have been under the care of the mental health crisis team many times.
The purpose of the team is to help support people in the community who are experiencing a mental health crisis, and part of that is to prevent someone from needing to go into hospital.
Being in a mental health crisis means that you’re finding it difficult to think rationally.
Quite often, I’ve been paranoid and felt that people were against me, that they don’t care and want to treat me badly. It’s very difficult to put these feelings into perspective when their actions confirm your fears.
So the most important aspect of the support from the mental health crisis team is that they are available on the phone whenever the need arises as it is possible for a crisis to pass with the right support. A hospital admission should be seen as a last resort.
Crisis support is available in most areas, but it may be called different things and provide different levels of support.
The ideal situation would be that you could see someone with whom you’ve built a relationship, and that they would be available 24/7 – especially at night when things are usually worse.
When you’re in crisis, it’s incredibly difficult to restate your story over and over again – unfortunately, this is a common experience I’ve had.
Some people may find restating their story helpful but others may just want quick fix management techniques.
I find it (and I don’t think I’m that unusual) very difficult to trust and open up to strangers; this is a problem for which there is no simple solution.
I can understand that different people want to hear it directly ‘from the horses mouth’, but it’s unhelpful because I often felt like I had to justify why I was having support.
Having to explain time after time that I’ve been self-harming or feeling suicidal made me feel worse.
The crisis worker is in a very difficult position to know what it is the person needs when they meet someone for the first time.
And since it’s just not possible to have the same person available 24/7, the next best thing would be for people within the crisis team to communicate information between themselves to give continuity of care.
What do I need if I need mental health support in the community?
The community mental health team (CMHT) are the people who can support you in the community.
You can be referred to them by your GP.
The CMHT is comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and other support workers.
They will assess who you need to see and will support you with all aspects of the mental health recovery.
On the whole, the professionals themselves have been absolutely excellent.
Most of the problems are due to a lack of resources – they desperately need more money to employ more staff and to provide appropriate training.
You cannot predict how long someone is going to need support for and this is going to lead to appointment times being missed.
I found it very difficult when they were late for my appointment and then kept my appointment short. I felt resentment that they considered other people’s problems more important than mine, and this frequently left me shutting down and not sharing my difficulties.
I can now see they were just doing their best, and having to spread themselves thin and working with a lack of time was not their fault.
And if there aren’t enough of them, they sometimes have to rely on agency workers.
I don’t want to make a rash generalization but unfortunately I have not had good experiences – I’ve found individuals to be uninterested and they say the most ridiculous things.
While in crisis with my anorexia, I have genuinely had people say ‘can’t you just eat?’ and ‘try going for a walk’.
At the time, I just thought I deserved this lack of understanding because I was impossible to understand, I decided it was better to have no support rather than bad support.
Now I can see that these comments were totally inappropriate, and it was not my fault.
I learnt that if I need support from the crisis team, I really should take up that offer or things will get worse.
Not having support led to me being admitted to hospital.
The reality is, the people who work in the crisis service are being asked to take on a very difficult and stressful task – they are incredible and do their best.
But the government needs to realise that the crisis service is at breaking point, and unless they fully fund their work, they cannot do the job that is desperately needed.