The LGBTI disproportionately suffer from mental health issues compared to the rest of the population | Photo: Pixabay
A viral Twitter thread shined a light on the terrifying state of mental health services offered in the UK.
Journalist Emily Reynolds posted on the social media site (6 August) that she contacted a crisis number after struggling with her mental health, who then informed her to go to the hospital. However, after waiting six hours in A&E (ER) to receive emergency mental health support, she was instead handed a printed out web page – one that contained the crisis number she rang in the first place.
Reynolds posted the next day, reiterating her frustration: ‘sorry to go on about it but honestly going to A&E in psychiatric crisis and leaving six hours later with nothing except a print out of a webpage titled “are you feeling the strain?” might actually be one of the funniest things that’s ever happened to me [sic.]’
sorry to go on about it but honestly going to A&E in psychiatric crisis and leaving six hours later with nothing except a print out of a webpage titled “are you feeling the strain?” might actually be one of the funniest things that’s ever happened to me
— Emily Reynolds (@rey_z) August 7, 2018
The response to this Tweet was heartbreaking. Thousands of people commented on the thread to share their terrible experiences when seeking help for their mental health issues. Here are a few of their stories.
‘That’s how he’s my late boyfriend’
One male user wrote: ‘My late boyfriend was on his sixth attempt. MH [mental health] services brought his pills daily so he couldn’t OD. He told them he was fine now and could he have a month’s worth and could they please not tell me? Yes, they said brightly, of course!
‘And that’s how he’s my late boyfriend.’
‘The psychiatrist told me I was ‘too pretty’ to have depression and anxiety and handed me a list of self confidence books to look up in the library’
One user also had her experience trivialized by being told to read: ‘Last visit to my psychiatrist (I get 30 mins roughly every 4 months) I tried explaining that I was starting to struggle again with hopelessness & suicidal thoughts and he told me it might help if I tried reading Edward albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf [sic.]’
‘You can be happy too’
‘In A&E following a large overdose and needing stitches, a doctor asked me if I’d ever seen anyone with Down Syndrome, they were always happy and if they can be happy then I can too. Even without blood loss & copious drugs I wouldn’t have known where to start with that’
‘Better look after yourself’
One person told the terrifying story of her daughter: ‘When my 11y/o was hospitalised for self harm (before her anorexia and then autism diagnoses) the play therapist told her to “get yourself together, you’ve got depression, it’s lifelong, you’d better learn to live with it” ELEVEN. She was terrified of that woman.’
‘Start helping yourself’
‘One of the many awful things I’ve been told by a psychiatrist after 3 a&e visits- ‘you know, you really need to start helping yourself rather than leaning on others’ oh okay, my bad I didn’t think of that? Only obviously if I could’ve helped myself I wouldn’t have been there’
Another user added: ‘I attempted overdose 4 times and the psychiatrist on call said they “should probably section [me] but there aren’t any beds free” so they sent me home from a hospital 4 miles from my house on my own with no responsible adult, no transport and a follow up appointment in 6 months.’
Emily Reynolds replied: ‘Lack of appointments seems to be a theme and it is genuinely just negligent. awful’
The user replied: ‘at the follow up he told me he had too many patients and treating bpd is not a priority of his because it’s not an effective use of resources. immediate discharge. the nhs is denying basic access to healthcare because it literally has no choice due to lack of staff and funding.’
NHS in crisis?
These stories come in the same week NHS figures revealed the number of teenage girls in the UK being hospitalized due to self-harm have nearly doubled in the last two decades.
In 1997, 7,327 girls were treated for self-harm in the hospital, but this rose to 13,463 in 2017. Girls being treated for overdosing rose from 249 to 2,736 – more than ten times in two decades.
The government reports that 52% of LGBTI young people reported self-harm either recently or in the past compared to 25% of heterosexual, cis young people. 44% of LGBTI young people considered suicide compared to 26% of heterosexual, cis young people.
The 2012 Trans Mental Health Study also found that not only had 33% of trans people attempted to take their own life more than once in their lifetime, 3% attempted suicide more than ten times.