My first experience with my local mental health services was about 7 years ago, before my son was born. I experienced some depression during my pregnancy, and the birth itself was quite traumatic. After he was born, the home care mental health team were great. They dropped in to see me at home a few times after the birth, and I got a lot of support from them.
My next experience was a few years later, when I had a psychotic episode one weekend. I was able to phone the home care team and talk through what was happening. With their help, I was able to get through that difficult day and I didn’t have to go to A&E. The team reminded me to use the skills I had learned.
I know now that if I need to, I can phone the team between 9-5 Monday to Friday, and also over the weekends. If I have a crisis outside of those hours, I have a direct phone number for the acute psychiatric unit. Just having someone empathetic at the other end of the phone can make a real difference.
A couple of years ago, I was unwell and decided I needed a short stay in hospital, in the acute unit. After I was discharged, I went to the day hospital a few days a week, where the mental health team worked with me on a home care plan. I did some group therapy sessions and I now see my therapist every 3 weeks, and the doctor every 3 months. I haven’t been hospitalised since.
My family has been really involved as well, and get great support themselves from the team. My family knows that they can contact my team or the acute unit for support if they are worried about me, where before they would have brought me to A&E. They’ve been able to attend family therapy sessions with me, and they are really clued in to my care. My mum has said that the support from the mental health team has put our family back together.
(“Elaine” is a pseudonym)