"My Brothers Psychiatric Experience"

About: Avon And Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust / Adult mental health

(as a relative),

I have changed names and other basic details.

My brother had a severe melt down at university after a combined lack of sleep, food, stress, girlfriend issues and financial concerns. He could not sleep even with sleeping tablets and had barely slept a wink in three weeks.

This culminated in a bizarre paranoid psychosis where by he thought most people were ‘out to get him' including immediate family members. He even thought we were trying to kill him.

He moved back home (he was up north) and we tried to help but it had gone too far and he soon became like a paranoid stranger.

Eventually we were able to get him sectioned (this is way harder than it sounds).

It was too hard to get him sectioned, despite us begging for help and even the doctor wouldn't come and see him. It was basically like we had to wait for him to do something drastic before they would listen. Despite us, his family knowing how desperately disturbed he was. Without some big event like trying to kill himself or someone else we were unable to get him sectioned.

Why should it be so hard to get someone sectioned????

Why can't they take the word of 5 sane normal family members who have watched his deterioration instead of waiting for one doctor to say the yes word?

As I said eventually he was sectioned, which yes helped as he could not do any harm to himself but I was shocked at how unhelpful I found the environment.

The people in there need love and nurture and normality so why can' they make the wards look homely? pictures, rugs, plants? It would drive sane person mad in there let alone someone struggling anyway.

It's the small thing like this that helps.

Everyone loves that warm snug atmosphere that you get round your gran's or a cosy lounge. There are ways to do this without it being 'dangerous' to others.

Also having one TV room is not enough. Many people with mental illnesses don't see themselves as being 'mental' so they do not always want to sit and be with other mentally ill people which is why there needs to be several other areas.

My brother didn't see himself as being mentally ill which is why he didn't want to hang around with the other people in there. He should not then be left, he needs constant encouragement to do other things that will take his mind of it.

My brother was lucky he had 5 other close family members constantly visit and distract him from his mind and psychosis and it was only after 6 months being detained that he gradually got better.

Had we not visited him every day with books, puzzles, games, and other attention grabbing things to stop him festering in his paranoid delusion he would probably still be in there sitting in his empty room with no company.

Also it was no good at first giving him a book as he read paranoid thoughts into that, it took days of reading things out aloud to him and explain that there were not bad intentions within the text.

Things had to be simple and fluffy and normal and straightforward and they were like that for months and he gradually stopped being paranoid and worrying.

My brother is better now and yes the nurses were good, apart from the two times he managed to abscond.

But more time and help is needed. People with mental issues sit and fester over things so why should they be left alone in a dull sterile room doing this even more?

It's all very well saying there are art classes and garden classes but they are not in that frame of mind to do it so other things need to be done to stimulate their minds to take them away from the internal mental misery.

Also my brother was in a high secure unit and he managed to escape. Thankfully he was taken back safely but when he was in that frame of mind he was not the brother we know so he could have done anything.

Overall I would say I admire the staff and how hard they work but more time, money and research is needed to cure people.

My brother has had a full recovery but I don't think others would be so lucky who don't have family visiting them all the time. Why should these others suffer because of that?

If they had a bigger and better support network like my brother did maybe they too would be better?

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Response from Alison Griffin, Head of Engagement and Responsiveness Department, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust

Dear Alex 123

Thank you so much for sharing your feedback with us. I'm very sorry to hear that you, you brother and your family have been through such a difficult time, and it is so interesting and useful to hear about your brother's experience through your eyes and to further understand how it feels to support someone during admission and after having been sectioned. I'm really glad to hear that you felt the staff worked hard to help people on the ward, and I will share this with the team.

My name is Andy Johnston and I am the clinical director for Adult mental health services provided by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. When I read your posting I wanted to make contact with you.

It would be helpful to have some further details so that I can further understand your issues. Alternatively you might prefer to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who will be able to help to ensure that any concerns you might still have are heard and allow us to make sure that if your brother needs support from us in the future things work smoothly for him and you all. PALS can be contacted on free phone no 0800 073 1770 or 01249 468261 or by email to pals@awp.nhs.uk.

Thank you again for sharing your story with us, and I hope your brother is doing well.

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