I had no idea that a community mental health team was available and that I was safe and quite able to remain in the community.
I was not crazy, or a danger to others, I was not insane, I just had a mental illness.
When I was extremely unwell and had hit rock bottom, my husband spoke out after struggling for months to care for me.
I admit I was terrified of being sectioned.
Would they admit me to a psychiatric ward?
How could a mentally ill person like me be allowed to stay at home?
There were places for crazy people and they had padded cells.
My idea of a mental health hospital was one of what you would have found years ago.
I was convinced that there were still lunatic asylums out there, where the treatment of patients were sometimes brutal and focused on containment and restraint.
It was a real learning curve for me, as I now complete PLACE assessments in my local psychiatric wards, to ensure the care given is to high standards. I assure you they are from padded cells.
But back when I was ill, I had this creepy illusion that people were coming for me, I was suffering paranoia to the extreme.
If I heard a siren, they were coming to get me.
I barricaded myself in the bedroom, using the wardrobe and drawer sets.
Is it any wonder my poor husband went to my Health Visitor and begged her to help him?
I was reassured a thousand times that I was not going to be sectioned, I was being placed under the care of the community mental health team.
Who are the community mental health team?
Some mental health problems don’t need a psychiatrist’s involvement. Your family doctor can offer you support and prescribe antidepressants.
Your GP can refer you to a counsellor or psychotherapist.
However, if your problems are more complicated or your mental illness is severe, your GP may refer you to a mental health service or community mental health team.
Your community mental health team is there to help you by:
- Working with you to keep an eye on any changes in your behaviour, feelings and thinking
- Being someone to talk to
- Developing your strengths
- Working to find answers to your current problems
- Helping you to become more independent
The way you use community-based mental health and social care will depend on your individual situation.
You may use services on a one-off or short-term basis, or you may need more long-term support.
You might use one service or several different services at once.
You may use only mental health services, only social care services or a combination of both.
You may also receive different levels of support at different times.
At its best, community-based care can provide you with the support you need to manage your mental health problem and continue with your normal life. – Mind
My own community mental health team consists of my community psychiatric nurse (CPN) and my psychiatrist.
I see my CPN regularly and have appointments with my psychiatrist as and if my medications need changing or my symptoms worsen.
Personalisation for community mental health services means:
- Making sure people with mental health problems can take as much control as possible over their support arrangements, to pursue their recovery and social inclusion on their own terms
- Committing to developing a more equal and creative relationship between people using services and practitioners
- closing any gaps of understanding and procedure between local authorities and provider NHS Trusts to make sure self-directed social support can benefit people with mental health problems
- having relationship-based rather than process driven ways of working, changing your own personal practice as a community mental health worker or manager
- dealing effectively with the specific challenges of risk management, fluctuating conditions and public stigma to make sure people with mental health problems benefit equally from more choice and control
- Adapting job roles, the organisation of teams and the allocation of resources over time to make sure services can meet people’s needs and aspirations in more personalised ways.
Written by SCIE in collaboration with the AMHP National Leads Network and the Social Care Strategic Network for mental health. Published: November 2009
Community mental health teams (CMHTs) focus on working to help people with complex mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression). – NHS
They aim to provide the day-to-day support that is needed to allow a person to remain living in the community.
Have you used the services of the community mental health team, what was your own experience like?