Thursday, 14 March 2013

Mental Health Laws. Why should I care?

Any one of us at any time in our lives can lose capacity for lots of different reasons including everything from depression to dementia. 70% of people get an illness that they will recover from, but, the remaining 30% will have to live with the illness their entire lives. That 30% are at the most risk of things going wrong with their care plan. I want to make sure that every one who finds themselves in a situation where they are unable to make decisions for themselves is safe.

I decided to do this after my sister died in an nhs hospital after being kept in a secure unit for 21 months after we were told she was fit for release, they said she was a voluntary patient but they threatened to hold her under the mental health act if she tried to leave with me, but, worse than that she was then medicated to the point that she could no longer feed herself or tell you her name. She died aged just 51. The doctor who asked to have an autopsy done said that in his opinion her body just gave up. This cannot be allowed to go on.

Please help me to get the laws changed so that this cannot happen to anyone else. Sign my petition here. Thank you.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Why should mental health law matter to you?

One in three people will suffer from some form of mental illness in their life. 70% will recover whilst the rest will have to fight it for the rest of their life. It does not matter which group you fall into, you will be bound by the mental health laws while you lack capacity.

If you are among the lucky ones who have a nice caring family who all agree with each other and you there should be no problems with the care and treatment while you are in hospital but, what happens if you are incapacitated and there are ongoing family disagreements? Your life is then in the hands of people who don't know a thing about you. How can someone who does not know your likes or dislikes, or more importantly how can they make decisions about your welfare when they know nothing of your views on life, drugs etc.

My sister spent 21 months longer in a secure unit due to just that. She was due for release in Jan 2011 but died in Sept. 2012 still in the hospital. This was due to an old power of attorney that everyone knew had not been fulfilling her duties. She had not seen our sister for more than 7 years yet, she was allowed to make decisions that time and time again were proved to be wrong. No matter how much I tried I could not get anyone to see that this was wrong.

Mid 2012 she was moved to the clinical investigation unit where the doctor there agreed with me that she had been over medicated. So much so that he could not get an aenethsetist to look at her for fear that giving her more drugs would kill her. The same doctor then took her off most of the medication she had been prescribed and said that he noticed no significant change in her mood. In fact she was able to laugh and joke with the nurses, eat and drink unaided. Prior to this she could not tell you her own name. In fact she did not even have the will to sit up of her own accord.

Do you want this to happen to you or someone you love? If not take action now and sign the petition to get the laws changed. Thank you. Stop Over Medicating Mental Health Patients.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

 Mental Health and Triggers

A lot of mental health problems can be brought on by certain triggers. Poverty, stress, seasonal changes and poor diet to name but a few. The key to maintaining good mental health is to find out what your triggers are and find ways to avoid them. I am not saying that this will be a cure for your mental health problems but, recognising when your mental health is suffering means that you can seek help earlier and the quicker you get the treatment you need the quicker you will be back in good health.
So how do you recognise your triggers? One of the best ways I have found is to keep a mental health diary. 

The diary should be written as below.
On a scale of one to ten, one being miserable and ten being very happy write e.g.

MOOD 4 Struggled to get up but went to work, did nothing for the rest of the day.

Breakfast.     Cup of coffee, skipped eating
Lunch           Cheese and ham toastie and mug of tea.
Dinner          Spagetti bolognese and mug of tea.
Snacks etc.   Mars bar, two more coffees and a half bottle of wine.
Washed face, brushed teeth, wore same clothes as yesterday. 

Stress level should be written in the same way as mood one being no stress ten being ready to explode.

When done on a daily basis you can then look back and see what you did on each of the days that you feel miserable and compare what you did, had etc. If any of the things match try to avoid them, you will soon know what your triggers are. Avoiding them in the future is then down to you.
This method won't work for everyone but, it is certainly worth trying. Many people don't realise that what they consume on a daily basis impacts on the way we feel. Simple dietary changes can make a huge difference to how we feel.
One of the first things you may notice when your mental health starts to deteriorate is that your personal hygiene may suffer so, keeping track of that is a key part in recognising that you may be getting unwell.
Medication is not always the answer. Sometimes it is the simple things that we neglect that are the cause and if we recognise the cause we can then fix the problem.
I am campaigning to have the mental health laws changed. If you believe that we need better laws, take action and sign the petition. Stop Over Medicating Mental Health Patients


Friday, 8 February 2013

Mental Health and Medication

What do you really know about the drugs you are taking? A lot of the medication given to mental health sufferers contain toxins and sedatives. Yes sometimes mild sedation may be the best and safest option for the patient but, is it right to sedate a person to the point that they can no longer talk let alone function in any other way? I don't think so, do you? So how do you stop over medication from happening to you?

Family members can make decisions for you while you lack capacity and usually this works fine but, what if there are disputes within the family about the medication or treatment being offered, what happens then? The doctor can then ignore all of the advice being offered by relatives and give you whatever he decides and if anything goes wrong he has a get out clause. He can reply that in his or her opinion it was the best thing to do. Would you like your future care and treatment decided by someone who did not even know you or your likes and dislikes etc. I'm sure I wouldn't.

Next option. Have a power of attorney drawn up. These are very powerful documents that need very careful planning before you consider getting one. They can cover your welfare while you lack capacity as well as your finances. From experience my advice would be, never consider getting a lasting power of attorney. Things change, people move on and families break up. We would all like to hope that this will never be the case with our families but, what if it was? If a document has been drawn up years before it is easy to forget about it in the midst of a family break up, if you become ill during this time and the person who holds the power of attorney disagree in any way with other member of your family. The ones you are now living with and know your recent wishes etc. It would still be the one with the document making your decisions for you, even if they have not seen you fro years. How can they possibly know what you want?

The way to avoid this kind of situation is to have a document drawn up on a yearly basis. This way if you should require hospital treatment you know it's the people around you who know what your wishes are and know how drugs have affected you in the past.

My sister was subjected to being tried on various medications which she had been prescribed before. I knew the serious side effects she had endured in the past but, because I was not the one who held the power of attorney my wishes were over ruled every time. Each time I was proved to be right but it made no difference. She was given them anyway because the attorney said they could. She died on the 20th of September 2012 aged just 51. The cause of death was put down as heart failure due to her body having just given up.

If you don't want this to be you or possibly someone you love take action now to make sure it never can? Sign the petition and get the mental health laws changed! Stop Over Medicating Mental Health Patients

Friday, 25 January 2013

Better Mental Health

I have seen a lot of blogs recently about the stigma of having a mental illness. It's true, there are still an awful lot of people who immediately tense up and look wary as soon as they learn that someone is mentally ill. Why? Is it because they assume that, if someone is mentally ill they must be unpredictable and maybe violent? I have heard people say things like, "you need to watch him, he's a nutter". When asked why, their response was "he's got that bipolar thing". Like it were a disease. Sorry it may have been the wrong thing to do but, I could not help but laugh. Someone had been classed as a nutter by another person who didn't even know what the illness was, only what it was called and they thought he was a nutter.

When I was a child, our parents used to chastise us if we laughed at anyone or called them names. No matter what they had, whether it was mental illness or a physical disability, it didn't matter. We were told it could have been us, could happen to us or we could have a child like that and how would we feel if people were laughing at them or making assumptions about what they may do.

I believe education is the key to changing peoples attitudes but that is not as simple as it sounds, especially if you are trying to educate people about something they cannot see or comprehend. We pick up most of the things we do from the people we are surrounded by as children and children can be very cruel. The problem is, how do you educate them, when their parents already have the same attitude? Children tend to believe that their parents would never hurt them or lie to them (I know this is not always the case) so, when they hear their parents saying that someone is a nutter because they have that bipolar thing, they believe them.

Maybe another name for it would help. Like when "mongle" became downs syndrome. The trouble with the term mental illness is that it covers such a wide range of disorders from, eating disorders, psychosis, bipolar, anxiety, OCD, depression, the list is exhaustive and so are the extremes in the symptoms and behaviour of the sufferers. The word "mental" conjours up all kinds of images of things we should be afraid of. Something has to be done to change this. So maybe getting rid of the phrase mental illness and calling each illness or disorder by it's proper name would help. It won't solve the stigma problem overnight but, maybe as people learn that someone is bipolar or that they suffer from depression or whatever, they will see that they are not someone you need to be afraid of, they will learn that what they previously thought, was in fact far from the truth. I believe that learning the truth about mental health problems will make a big difference. Statistically, drug and alcohol abusers are more likely to commit serious offences than people with mental health problems. Knowing the truth and learning from it will also make a difference, but sadly I believe that there will always be people who, when confronted with something they don't understand will stick a label on it and make up what they don't know and stigmatise.

As well as removing the stigma we need to improve the mental health laws. They have been left wide open to interpretation. They are fine for people who suffer mild to moderate mental health problems but, when they suffer a problem that will lead them to lose capacity from time to time, sadly the law lets them down. My aim is to change that too. Below you will see a draft copy of my petition. Take action and sign the petition using this link.

Draft copy of the petition

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to take action to make changes to mental health law that will ensure the safety of mental health patients and give greater rights to the nearest relative of such patients.

Changes I would like to see are as follows:-

All meetings etc. that discuss the patients current or future care should be recorded onto a tape or hard disc instead of taken down in shorthand then typed as they are at present.        
The way meetings are recorded at the moment allow omissions from or alterations to what was   actually said by the individuals present at such discussions. One of the recordings should then be kept in a sealed envelope so that it can be referred to should any disputes arise.    
Past wishes should be taken into account when making decisions. 
 Although this is at present law it is of no use as it stands. Past wishes can be classed as historic and can therefore be ignored.
Advocates should have some background in dealing with patients with mental health problems and have the power to ask the patient direct questions.
At the moment no training is required when it comes to dealing with people who have mental health problems. The law states that patients should be encouraged to make their own decisions. How can a patient make a decision about their future when no one can ask them what they want and outline the options open to them?
Patients should be allowed in to the meetings discussing their future and not brought in at the end when their future has been decided.
At the moment their options are being discussed without them being present. They are brought in at the end and told what they have been decided is the best thing for them. This has to change. Telling someone what you think is best for them does not encourage them to make their own decisions, that is leading by suggestion.
It should be law that doctors should have to explain how they arrived at their decisions about medication and future care etc. should a problem arise.
At the moment a doctor can ignore the advice of the nearest relative and do what they want. When asked why, they can simply reply that in his or her clinical opinion it was the best thing to do.
When medication is prescribed to patients their relatives should be asked if the patient has been on that particular medication before.
At the moment a doctor can prescribe any medication he likes despite being told about adverse reactions and side effects shown when they had been prescribed to the patient in the past.
Over medication should not be tolerated.
There should be a maximum dose of sedatives that can be prescribed to any patient. That dose should include other medications which contain a sedative.
No one can think straight or make decisions for themselves when they are too sedated.
It should be made law that, any allegations of a crime against a patient must be reported to the police.
As soon as you are aware that a crime may have been committed, it should be compulsory to report it. This should apply to everyone involved with the patient. Doctors, social workers, advocates etc.
If any crime is alleged to have taken place, the person accused of that crime should have the right to initiate an investigation to clear their name.
Where a person can prove that an allegation of wrong doing has been made against them and everyone else has failed to report it, the person accused should be allowed to.

Where an attorney is involved

The good practice guide for attorneys should be made law.
This should be written in plain English that cannot be left open to  interpretation. Misinterpretation can lead to greater vulnerability for the patient.
There should only be one organisation to deal with a complaint that has gone above the local level.
Where there is a power of attorney with both financial and welfare powers you have two separate bodies to deal with. The “Office of the Public Guardian”  and  “Mental Welfare Commission.” Each one only sees part of a bigger picture. This can also lead to greater vulnerability for the patient.
Attorneys must be able to show that they know everything about a patient and have been in regular contact with them, before they can be allowed to make decisions regarding medications, treatments etc.
Not doing this can lead to life threatening situations.
Problems do arise and mistakes are made. These simple changes would ensure that they are brought to light quickly. That way the problem can be rectified and the safety of the patient assured.
Thanks for reading and I hope you will share my message. The more support we get the more likely they are to listen. Remember to join the cause if you would like to be part of making this happen.
Stop Over Medicating Mental Health Patients.  Join the cause.