THE RIGHT TO HEALTH NEWSLETTER
THE RIGHT TO HEALTH Participation and the Practice of Rights
Accountability. Equality. Participation.
Mental Health Rights ...................................................................................................................................................................................
Mental Health – What’s Not Working? Working with directly affected groups in different areas of Northern Ireland has led to many issues around mental health services being highlighted. These include: 1. Waiting times at A&E are unacceptable. 2. Keeping someone in crisis safe at A&E is difficult. 3. Information on what should happen if someone goes to A&E in mental health crisis 4. Need clear and timely information for carers 5. Mental health services change dates of appointments leading to frustration, upset and sometimes disengagement from services. 6. People don’t know where to go initially for help. 7. Its slow to get a GP appointment and the response from one GP to another can vary greatly 8. Media campaigns are ineffective and not relevant enough 9. Anti-depressants are prescribed too frequently – GP’s are not offering a range of treatment options e.g. counselling, support groups etc 10. Lack of training about mental health for GP’s We would like to know your views and experiences on these issues, or any others you have had relating to mental health services.
Have you tried to make change happen or influence how mental health services are run?
We would like to hear about the challenges you experienced or successes you have had, get in touch to share your story.
Sharing Your Story: Hearing from people who actually use the services In this issue, we hear from Joanna, a Belfast Mental Health Rights Group (BMHRG) member who recently received Card Before You Leave (CBYL). Although the BMHRG successfully secured the implementation of CBYL, they know that the campaign journey does not end with a commitment to change. To make sure change actually happens we need people directly affected to be involved each step of the way.
Joanna Wozniak, speaking at PPR event ‘Services at Breaking Point’, May 2012
‘I attended the Ulster Hospital A&E on the 1st of May around 2pm or so. I was seen around 2.30pm and at 3pm - sharing how I feel and that I have struggled with self harming thoughts for couple of days. I received a Card before you Leave and also got stitches as I appeared to A&E with two cuts which were suspected self harm. When I left A&E and looked at the card I realised that the card had only my name on it and the date of attendance, but no appointment time. It stated that my details are going to be passed on to the mental health team and I will be contacted to arrange an assessment. Two days later (Friday the 3rd of May) no one had called so I decided to contact the number of the mental health centre which was printed on the card. I was told that no referral was made and the centre had never heard about me. I was given the number of the unscheduled care team in Belfast, whom I have called straight away. Again I was told that no information had been passed so the referral wasn't made. I then decided to contact the Ulster Hospital's A&E department, the one I attended on
Wednesday the 1st of May, and check what the issue was. I was told that I am not on the system and was transferred to another person, who then after hearing my story transferred me to yet another person. After a long conversation and explanation of the situation I was told that this person will try to get it sorted! 6 hours later the same person called me saying that she has made the referral and I will be contacted soon by the unscheduled care team in Belfast. Another evening had passed and I received a call from the Belfast team on Saturday the 4th of May around 9.30am. After explaining the whole situation and sharing my feelings and thoughts about self harm and suicide, which by this time and because of all the mess up got worse, I was told that the person will get back to me with a care plan! At 10am I received a call and I was told that the team have decided that I can contact Lifeline and they will arrange check in calls for me with Lifeline. I told them that it is not good enough and that I am still involved with Lifeline, however in the past I have discussed with Lifeline the
check in calls and we both agreed that calls to Lifeline just trigger me even more. I was told that the unscheduled care team cannot offer anything else. I then told the person that for future reference it is meant to be an appointment within 24h not a phone call within 72 hours. The person was shocked about how informed I was about the Card before you Leave, but still didn't offer anything and put the phone down. Couple minutes later I had a phone call and the person said that she has just heard that I am involved with 'the people who implemented the CBYL and if I would like to see the team at 12pm in Beldoc’. I said that it is not fair that I am now getting special treatment because of involvement with BMHRG and that 12pm is not a good time for me. The woman told me that they are really busy today (Saturday the 4th) and they cannot see me at any other time, but I can still call Lifeline. I got no check ins with Lifeline, even the one agreed for Sunday and no follow up from mental health teams.’
JOANNA’S STORY CONTINUED
What we did about it... Joanna, with support from PPR contacted the South Eastern Trust to get answers about why the system did not work for her this time. After speaking to the South Eastern Trust, Joanna reported that the Trust acknowledged that there was confusion about what the Card Before You Leave (CBYL) should be. The Trust agreed that the CBYL should have an appointment time printed on the card, which should be within 24 hours. The original template for CBYL contained a space for an appointment date and time. The South Eastern Trust also said that they will investigate why my information was not passed on to either the South Eastern Trust or the Belfast Trust Mental Health Team. The South Eastern Trust also agreed to communicate with the Belfast Trust to clarify that the CBYL is designed to offer an appointment with the Mental Health Team for a full assessment, not only a phone call.
Get Involved If you are interested in becoming involved or would like any further information please get in touch using the options below. Telephone: 028 9031 3315 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Participation and the Practice of Rights 2nd Floor, 133 Royal Avenue Belfast BT1 1FG www.pprproject.org www.facebook.com/pprproject www.youtube.com/PPRProject https://twitter.com/PPR_Org
STEPS group at PPR workshop
Out and About
What’s Happening Near You? PPR continues to meet with groups to explore the main issues for people affected by mental health. If we haven’t been in touch with a group from your area and you would like to get involved or find out more just get in touch. We have been working with the Niamh Louise Foundation, based in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. Recently, the Niamh Louise Foundation has formed a new youth group who have been working with PPR to learn more about their human rights in regards to mental health, and how they can be used to create a positive change in society. The group have been sharing their own views on mental health services and have identified many key issues for them such as lack of education and awareness of mental illness which can lead to stigma, and a lack of media campaigns highlighting the issues of suicide and self harm. We have also carried out several workshops with the FASA Safe
Together group from Shankill Road in Belfast and the Survivors of Suicide group in East Belfast. We are continuing to work with the Belfast Mental Health Rights Group who are progressing their campaign for proper implementation of Card Before You Leave (a card with a written appointment within 24 hours for people discharged from A&E without a full mental health assessment) and monitoring how it is working on the ground. We have started working with the STEPS group in Draperstown who are exploring the main issues for people affected by mental health issues in their area and looking at the different ways they can work towards getting change. STEPS are also looking at the effectiveness of media campaigns in rural areas. “Great chat on respect and attitudes to mental health – real life stories!” STEPS group workshop
How can we help you get change? Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) supports people who want to make change happen in mental health services. We do this through using human rights, campaigning, organising and policy work to help groups make their voice heard. Our aim is to put the power of human rights in the hands of those people who need them most. • Does your group want to get involved in campaigning and fighting for change in mental health services but not sure where to start? • Like the idea of human rights, but think they’re just not that relevant to your life? • Does the idea of linking human rights and health services sound interesting, but all that legislation and policy stops you before you start? PPR can help your group to use human rights in the way they were intended, to help people directly affected by issues achieve change on the ground. Just get in touch to find out more about how we can work with you.
“It is the way human rights work should be, but isn’t, done”. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking on the work of PPR (January 2013)
Inez McCormack, centre, with members of Belfast Mental Health Rights Group
A personal tribute to Inez Inez McCormack, internationally renowned human rights activist and founder of Participation and the Practice of Rights died on 21 January 2013, after a short illness. Tributes were paid to her from around the world, but one of the most moving ones came from Gerard McCartan, a member of the Belfast Mental Health Rights Group. The following is taken from a speech Gerard made at an event to celebrate Inez’s life in the Elmwood Hall in Belfast on the 23rd March:
remember hearing so much about you that I couldn’t wait to meet you and when I did meet you I knew you were someone who I could trust and someone who really did want to make a difference no matter how small.
“I look round and see so many people here and it shows what an inspirational woman Inez was and how many of us were touched by her. I’d like to share with you part of the last email I sent to Inez when I had just heard she was very ill.
I gained a lot of confidence in listening and talking to you. You are an inspiration to me and also loads of people. The PPR is a fantastic organisation with fantastic people who really champion your cause and that’s all down to you.’
‘This is one of the hardest emails I have ever written but I felt I had to email you once I heard your terrible news. Well where do I start - I suppose it has to be when we first met. I can
Like I said in the email Inez was an inspirational woman who I had the privilege of meeting and who I’ll never forget.”
Need Help? Contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. The helpline service is available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
But the one thing that really sticks in my mind is you weren’t afraid to speak your mind in a polite manner to the so called “men in suits” plus you had a real passion in what you believed in and you also believed in me and my wife Carol.
Call Lifeline 0808 808 8000 if you need confidential support services and advice, or are concerned about someone else. This is a free helpline service available 24/7.