Supreme Court (workshop)

Delivered as part of the workshop on Complex Needs and Trauma at the Supreme Court, during the Empowering Women, Transforming Lives conference, on 4 September 2019:

I read a report recently, that said that:

  • 60% of complaints made about community mental health services, nationally, are to do with poor attitudes and stigma
    • 10% are about the lack of services

This is not a surprise to me. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and have experienced these poor attitudes and stigma first-hand. I was in crisis and asked for help. It wasn’t given, for several reasons:

  • BPD is untreatable
  • It’s a behavioural problem
  • There is no personality disorder pathway in Derbyshire

I went to prison for 12 months. When I came out, nothing had changed; there was still no help and I couldn’t cope. I went back to prison for another 6 months. I’m not making excuses. I offended, pleaded guilty and paid the consequences. But I know it could have been avoided. When I came out the second time, I re-mortgaged my house to pay for private therapy. All I ever wanted was someone to talk to, and having that at last, led me on the road to recovery.

I now run support groups for people with Borderline Personality Disorder and we recently released a report containing the views of 40 of our members. As expected, concerns over poor attitudes and stigma far outweigh the concerns over the lack of services. People with BPD are often treated as time-wasters and attention-seekers. Those who are given counselling under the ‘Instant Access to Psychological Therapy’ scheme, known as IAPT, often find that the standard 6 or 12 week sessions cause more damage because they are just starting to open up and then are cut off. If they are lucky, they may be put back on the waiting list for another 6 or 12 sessions in 12 to 18 months time.  Those who complain, or who refuse the counselling because it is not long enough, are usually discharged because complaints and refusals are seen as ‘not engaging’.

Read some quotes from the report…

Our members understand about budget cuts, and the lack of funding faced by service providers. But if money is found to educate and train staff on complex needs early on, think of how much could be saved in the long-term. 70% of prisoners have some form of personality disorder. My time in prisons and psychiatric units, alone, must have cost the tax-payer well over £100,000.

But it’s not just about money. The most common personality disorder among women is Borderline. 7 in 10 self-harm. 1 in 10 end their own lives.

Most of our members, as with many people with complex needs, have suffered childhood trauma. By denying them compassion and understanding, and of course, appropriate services, aren’t they just being punished for experiencing that childhood trauma?