"Trying to get help from Ballenden House"

About: Ballenden House

(as the patient),

I spent years trying to get help from this service, but I thought it was a complete waste of my time. I was discharged at the drop of a hat. For example - I had an appointment that 2 and a half weeks before, I needed to call and rearrange (because of a lecture). The secretary was very obliging and helpful, and we made a new appointment. The morning before another appointment I called (in advance) and explained that I was really unwell and wouldn't be able to make it in. The secretary assured me someone would call me back to rearrange. 2 weeks later after not hearing from them, I call back and get told that - I'd missed two appointments without notice so had been discharged. And had to start the whole referral from GP/waiting list process all over again.

Another attempt at getting into the system - I'd asked for a psychiatrist because what I *needed* was someone to discuss ADD and Aspergers/learning difficulties, as the university needed me to do so in order for me to access study support.

What I got from my psychiatrist appointment (after a lengthy wait) was a GP training to be a psychiatrist, who read off a list of questions I could have found on the internet. "how is your sleep". "how is your eating". She rolled her eyes when I mentioned Aspergers and ADD), and then told me I was depressed. When I went back to my GP and told them I wanted to speak to an actual psychiatrist, they said we needed to see the report first. But the report took 4 weeks to arrive, and I was discharged as not needing any further follow up after 10 days.

By the time the report came and my GP agreed that yes, it was entirely inadequate - I would need to be referred again and do the waiting list/mental health nurse triage all over again.

I've been trying to get help for 4 years from Ballenden House. They provided me with nothing, and created so much stress and misery in my life. Letters go missing, messages get lost, I find some of the staff rude and dismissive. It feels like if they can't 'fix' you in 6 sessions of CBT from a mental health nurse (mine told me that they were not trained to give it, but had some experience of it )- they'll stonewall you and get you out through sheer frustration.

I thought the attitude I experienced from some of the mental health nurses who are your first point of contact are appalling - rude and dismissive and sceptical when they're asking you to talk about things that are very painful and humiliating in the first place!

The worst thing too is talking to other students and hearing this same story over and over again.

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Response from Jeannette Morrison, Head of Patient Experience, NHS Lothian

Dear Perpetua,

I am sorry to hear how difficult things have been for you recently in trying to access services. I have shared your feedback with the team and I am sure that they would be happy to look into this for you. If you would like us to do this please can you get in contact with me via email (feedback@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk) or by telephone 0131 536 3370 and I would be happy to help.

Kind regards

Jeannette Morrison

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