"Remove the Label and See the Person"

About: Arnold Lodge Regional Secure Unit

(as the patient),

I am taking this opportunity to write to you and raise some concerns that I have faced whilst trying to address some physical health problems as a service user and a patient at Arnold Lodge. Considering I had to visit a NHS hospital and all the talk over the years of removing the stigma attached to mental health I don’t see what has changed, as my latest experience has left a very bad taste in my mouth to put it mildly.

I have had psychiatric care for 37 years but just can’t grasp the idea that when I go to a hospital that are supposed to be addressing my physical concerns they appear to find great pleasure in either totally ignoring me and directing all questions towards the person who has accompanied me to my appointment or they ask a range of questions as to where I live and why I am there when in essence this has no relevance to the presiding situation.

Is it no wonder that after a while those of us that suffer from a mental illness feel that this is the only area of interest in our lives to anyone outside of the service.

I don’t see how this should take precedence over the main reason of my visit to the hospital, the treating of my physical state was to be addressed and not my mental illness, I have a psychiatrist for that. I wondered if they could actually see me sitting in the chair.

It is due to this that some of us tend to dwell negativity on the impact of our illness and then find we are set back in our lives due to the knock on effect of not being spoken to in the right manner or not at all.

It begs the question how would some of these “professionals” feel if going to a hospital with a physical problem and being asked a barrage of questions that has nothing to do with their problem.

What happened to patient confidentiality when trying to address a physical matter that has you worried. It’s high time these so called “professionals” remove the label and see the person, as we’re not just a patient we are people with feelings.

I feel it is the time that this treatment towards people with mental health problems should be long gone and that we educate a wider spectrum of people including “the professionals” to start treating us as they would like to be treated, where’s our equal rights and opportunities that gets so much mention but doesn’t actually happen in practice.

This has led me to have to put in complaints to the NHS in relation to the way I’ve been treated with a hope that I may be able to spare another service user the embarrassment of having to either be ignored or as I stated being asked questions that has nothing to do with the reason for attending hospital appointments that has no bearing on your mental health or not until they (the professionals) have exhausted your integrity and make you feel a lesser person than when you arrived at their office.

I continue to read various extracts about removing stigma from mental health patients and organisations that are campaigning for the right for this to happen. I continue to hope, but these experiences that keep occurring are all too real for me, leaving me tired and fearful of the professionals out there that continue to have no idea.

They need to have mandatory awareness training in how to deal with people with mental health illnesses and maybe there will be hope for myself and many others.

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Response from Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Thank you for your posting. We are sorry to hear that your experiences have been so negative. You have raised several issues with stigma being a recurring theme.

I hope that you will not lose hope as the Trust is making great strides forward in removing the stigma attached to mental health and actively encourages people to join this campaign.

We will forward this posting to Arnold Lodge for comment as you have raised some interesting points. We do appreciate your feedback as it offers opportunities for change.

If you would like to contact us for more information about how you can be involved in the Anti-Stigma Campaign please call Jonathan Wright: 0115 9934525