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Old 29-04-2012, 08:59 AM   #1
sherlock holmes
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Attacked and scared (my experience on an adult psychiatric ward as a teenager) *poss triggering*

I'm in the Sunday Express talking about my experiences as a teenager on an adult psychiatric ward. I wanted to say more about how I'd improve mental health services for young people by having a specialist service for 16-25 year olds but there obviously wasn't enough room!

Attacked and scared- I was a child but they put me in an adult ward.


By Lucy Johnston


SARAH Lamb was 17 when she had an appalling experience in an adult psychiatric unit.

She explains: “We were having a cigarette and one of the female patients came at me with hands outstretched towards my throat. I stepped backwards and she extended her arms with her lit cigarette to put it out on my face.”
Sarah is now 22 and has battled with mental issues since 14. Exam pressure had tipped her over the edge.

An investigation by the Sunday Express has found a crisis in health services. Young people, such as Sarah, are being locked in mental hospitals alongside potentially dangerous adults.

Government figures, obtained by our investigation, reveal under 16s with mental problems spent the equivalent of 5,166 bed days in adult psychiatric wards last year, despite laws introduced five years ago aimed at outlawing the practice.

Lucie Russell, spokeswoman for mental health charity Young Minds, said: “This is a shocking case. Young people in the psychiatric system are voiceless and as a result cases like this rarely come to light. In our civilised society, it should never happen.

“Young people are at risk of more trauma in adult psychiatric services like these and can come out more disturbed than when they went in. We need to protect youngsters, not exacerbate their problems.”

Sarah, from Rayleigh, Essex, is one of the many youngsters who has fallen through the cracks in the mental health system. Young Minds says services for teenagers are inadequate and many are not given the right help, leaving problems to spiral out of control.

Sarah, after depression in her childhood, started self-harming at 14. She says: “I don’t know why I wasn’t happy as I had loving parents. I would starve myself as a child and then one day I was in the school library with friends when we tried to make our arms looked tanned by colouring them with brown pen.


“I remember the pain and, because I couldn’t control my mental pain, it gave me an anchor. The next time I felt sad I remembered the pain and did it again.”

She moved from pens to paperclips, her maths compass and then razors, using websites to pick up self-harming tips.

She told her GP on several occasions and at 16 she was eventually sent to a psychiatrist only to be told she was not depressed. The psychiatrist suggested a counsellor an hour’s drive away. Sarah, unable to attend, says: “I was suddenly out of the system. I felt so let down.”

She was taken to A&E with self-inflicted injuries on at least 12 occasions in three months.

In December 2006, she was finally placed on an adult psychiatric ward after a suicide bid. She says: “I felt out of control. I thought, ‘I don’t want to be alive’. I went upstairs to the bathroom, got a razor blade and tried to cut an artery on my elbow. I felt dizzy and called mum.”

Sarah has since been at various psychiatric units for adults and forensic psychiatric wards among dangerous criminals.

She recalls not only the cigarette incident but also how patients shuffled along corridors shouting, how a girl on an adolescent ward tried to hang herself, how a woman smashed a plate and tried to cut herself with the shards and patients screaming day and night while being restrained by staff.
Two months ago, she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Now on the correct medication, she is studying psychology at university.

Sarah says: “Finally getting the right help has been wonderful. There should be specialist services for young people. This would help stop people falling through the net as I did.”

SOURCE


Last edited by sherlock holmes : 23-05-2012 at 03:46 PM.




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Old 29-04-2012, 09:17 AM   #2
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unfortunately, these stories are quite common. i was put on an adult unit aged 16 at one point.

the wards do have to write out an incident report in the more serious category when an under 18 admission has to happen, but i dont think that really affects anything other than statistics.

as for the screaming and shuffling etc, i would almost expect it.
im not saying its right for anyone to go through this and have these horrible experiences, i wouldnt wish it on anyone, but in reality, there will be many people on the wards with different problems and different degrees of illness, and mostly, its almost impossible to seperate everyone into groups of people with the same nature and degree of illness.

the nhs and funding should be better organised and better run. no question.

there are specialist services for young people, CAMHS, plenty of adolescent units including adolescent secure units.
ive been involved in the services since i was 12, and they didnt leave me until i was 18. but maybe i had a particularly good experience?



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Old 29-04-2012, 10:53 AM   #3
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Yeah I know about child and adolescent mental health services, but there's a gap in my opinion between those and adult services.

At about 16 or 17 you're considered too old really for CAMHS and get shoved onto adult services. On adult psychiatric wards most patients are severely ill and the average age is about 50.

That's why I think there should be a bridging service for 16-25 year olds so that they can get specialist treatment just for their age group with special inpatient wards etc.





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Old 29-04-2012, 02:57 PM   #4
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ah, i see what you mean now, sorry.

yes, i agree. i think 16 should be the maximum age in adolescent.
you also have the problem of relationships in mixed wards, which may not always be a good idea if you have 13 year olds and 18 year olds, or 17 year olds and 50 year olds.
luckily, there arent really many mixed wards now, but they still exist and i know this has been a problem in quite a few of them.



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Old 29-04-2012, 03:13 PM   #5
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I agree , when your 16/17 its really quite hard in the MH system and some can go without help because their seen as too old for camhs but too young for CMHT. When I was 16 I got a letter from CAMHS due to sh but I refused to see them. Then a few months later when I was 17 I was sent to my gp again due to sh, by my parents I was then assessed by adult services , found out I didn't meet there criteria so after a few weeks I got a letter from camhs again , which I went to. My psych was on his hols so I was assessed by another psych then a few weeks later assessed by my psych. However about a month later I ended up in hospital for an od and eventhough I thought I was with camhs. I was assessed by the crisis team , on the discharge letter it did say I would be referred to CAMHS though I had already been assessed by them!

I found out a few months later by my then cpn that he didn't assess me as he was 'leaving in a few weeks'

It was hard been assessed and passed on from pole to post and my parents thought because I was been passed on that there was more things wrong with me.



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Old 29-04-2012, 09:20 PM   #6
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This is different to what ive had so far. Im seventeen, more than halfway to eighteen, and my gp wanted to try to get me to adult services rather than camhs as she thought camhs would be more likely to want to involve my mum, but she thought it would be really diffcult to persuade people that i should be with the adult service. I actually dont know who she got in the end.
Seemingly in my area, its camhs until your 18 or move out or something like that



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Old 30-04-2012, 12:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaredy-cat View Post
This is different to what ive had so far. Im seventeen, more than halfway to eighteen, and my gp wanted to try to get me to adult services rather than camhs as she thought camhs would be more likely to want to involve my mum, but she thought it would be really diffcult to persuade people that i should be with the adult service. I actually dont know who she got in the end.
Seemingly in my area, its camhs until your 18 or move out or something like that
It was in my area too that it was CAMHS until 18. With involving my mum etc. My CPN at CAMHS only once passed information onto my mum and that was with my consent. Then it was the whole ' if your a danger to yourself or anyone else then I have to tell your parents etc' Apart from that everything was between me and her.



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Old 30-04-2012, 02:01 AM   #8
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I have nothing really to say, except that your brave for sharing your story with a newspaper.

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Old 30-04-2012, 04:09 AM   #9
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Well done on sharing your story, that's really brave :)

I do think with the shuffling and shouting and suicide attempts and stuff that is to be expected there is nothing the NHS can do about that, the people there are ill as has been said for a variety of reasons. However I do strongly agree with the concept of 16-25 services, or potentially adolescent units going up to 19 or even 21. I feel that as we (quite rightly) have different wards for the over 65s we should also have separate wards for the under 25s. Extremes of age need to be considered.




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Old 30-04-2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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I think it's wonderful that you wanted to share your story and that you're extremely brave for doing so.

I agree, there should be an under 25s service because I feel that perhaps if you're 16 years old and you see someone who is much older in the same psychiatric ward as you, you won't be able to connect and make friendships with the other patients or even more dangerously, be given tips (whether accidentally or not) by older patients.



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Old 01-05-2012, 01:02 PM   #11
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... if you're 16 years old and you see someone who is much older in the same psychiatric ward as you, you won't be able to connect and make friendships with the other patients or even more dangerously, be given tips (whether accidentally or not) by older patients.
I agree to a point. I think there probably should be some separation of under 25s. However, a 27 year old woman would have little in common with a 60 year old man (for example) - psych wards in the UK aren't much more than holding places for very ill people. Seeing other patients who are disturbed or potentially violent is frightening for pretty much anyone, regardless of age. Everyone is vulnerable in hospital environments, not just the young.



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Old 01-05-2012, 01:08 PM   #12
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I have nothing really to say, except that your brave for sharing your story with a newspaper.





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Old 01-05-2012, 02:30 PM   #13
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In my experience, teenagers and young adults in their twenties can have a hard time relating to each other. For example, the self-injurious behavior group I went to during one of my hospitalizations. My roommate and I (from the adult unit) were the only two brought up to the adolescent unit for the group. I was 22 and she was in her 40's. The group was about stuff like who your favorite high school teacher is, etc. And obviously we weren't in high school anymore.

Also, as far as the behaviors of other patients on units, I think that's to be expected. There is restraining, shouting, physical attacks, suicide attempts. I have seen those as well as a patient holding another hostage with a weapon, an elderly woman defecating on the floor, etc. I think of it as something to potentially be expected. I have been on adult units since I turned 18.

Once, before I was ever hospitalized as an inpatient, I was forced by college to go to a day program, and they put me with the adults even though I was 17 because I was able to relate more to adults than to teenagers in middle or high school.

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Old 05-05-2012, 09:04 AM   #14
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I was dumped by camhs at 16 as I was 'too old' but adult services refused to take me because I was 'too young'.
The only thing that could be done was to go private. Which I couldn't afford. Then when I was over 17, adults service took me on. Begrudgingly. Ha.

So yea, I'd agree totally that there is massive issues with the system.

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Old 06-05-2012, 07:00 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sherlock holmes View Post
...

That's why I think there should be a bridging service for 16-25 year olds so that they can get specialist treatment just for their age group with special inpatient wards etc.
I agree with this. 16-25, or maybe 18-30 at least.

I was 17 and voluntarily on an Adult Services ward (they had no CAMHS beds available for me), and I had a good experience, but everyone else was at the very least around 35.. it was awkward and uncomfortable tbh. They weren't severely mentally ill, well only a handful were, some of them were nice but still, I was lucky I guess, I understand that some wards are very bad for these problems such is the case of the OP ...





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Old 06-05-2012, 05:28 PM   #16
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I didn't leave CAMHS outpatient until I was two months off being 20! (Though admissions after 18 did have to be on the adult acute ward). I was also able to access both adult services and CAMHS between the age of 18 and 20(minus two months) - I had therapy at CAMHS but was able to access the HTT and the adult day unit. I think I was very lucky to be able to continue the treatment I was getting there, however I haven't had too many problems with adult services either.

I think the idea of a 16-25 service is a good one, recognising people's developmental stages. My only concern would be whether people between these ages would be able to access more specialist services which tend to be found in adult services (sometimes). The therapeutic communities I've attended have been for anyone over the age of 18. Perhaps there would be an exception and they'd include all adults, even those under the age of 25 - as I can't see many areas having the money to develop specialist services for people between 16 and 25 alone. Definitely not in Yorkshire, anyway!



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Old 06-05-2012, 09:54 PM   #17
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Being 24 now and jus out of hospital i think the idea of being on a ward with 16/17 year kids a horrendous idea .. i the maturity level of people between the ages of 16-25 is massive . I am an adult and want to be treated as such .. i have no idea what its like to be 16/17/18 in this day and age and would find it quite uncomftable ..as everyone i know are "adults" like grown up, fending for themselves. Whereas most 16/17/18 yo stillll live at home ..
I do however agree that there should be something more age appropriate in place for people under the age of 20. But would it be any safer than an adult ward? Ive been on a ward before with some very messed up dangerous teenagers before .. would it make a difference ..
Can the nhs afford it?
Is it practicle ? If they opened wards specfically for say 16-25 would they fill them? As someone said the average age is approx 40-50 ..
Would you have to travel outside your trust area?

I hope i havent offended anyone with this just a few thoughts i guess..


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Old 13-05-2012, 03:52 AM   #18
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I think that it's appropriate for people to move from CAMH's at 18 but think that hospital wards should be separated at the age of 21. So over 21's only go to the adult wards.

In the adolescent young adult unit the wards could be separated by age so under 18 over 18 type thing.




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Old 17-05-2012, 09:57 AM   #19
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My area (well old area) had a branch of CAHMs for 16-19 year olds which I was seen by, they were a fantastic and enabled me to complete my A levels and stay out of hospital.

I am incredibly greatful that I was able to access such services, it is such a shame that other areas don't have such services.



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Old 19-05-2012, 09:59 AM   #20
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it's not meant to be a holiday camp.

i was 18 when i first went on an adult ward. i didn't have any problems. of course there was shouting, suicide attempts, and severely ill people. but isn't that to be expected? like i said...not a holiday camp. hospital is a place to be avoided, so maybe it's good that it's an environment people don't want to return to.

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