Tuesday, 18 September 2012

the problem with complaints processes in psychiatric circumstances

I'm beginning to realise that complaints processes are not the best use of one's time, if they are to do with psychiatric or mental health services.  In my experience the voices of the professionals are believed while the testimonies of the mentally ill are disbelieved.  On the whole.  And their carers and family members marginalised.  Where truth is according to what's written in the medical notes.  Which can be doctored to suit the situation.  

I wouldn't recommend trying to get justice or fairness by making a complaint.  It can be like opening a can of worms.  Your reputation may be at stake.  Your intentions misrepresented.  The psychiatric system seems to be unassailable and not answerable for what it does to the people who enter within, as mentally ill or mentally disordered.  The problem is compounded when there is no independent advocacy or user led mental health groups to stand with the oppressed.  

The social work service should be a balance to what is going on in the psychiatric system.  Not aligning themselves with the system, against the service user, carer and family member.  This would be like adding insult to injury.  Adult protection investigations that favour the system are just not good enough in my opinion.  They're meant to be about protecting the rights of vulnerable people.  The system isn't vulnerable.  The people in the system are.

I'd started to write an Email this morning, to statutory agencies, cancelling all the complaints I've made.  Because I am so very fed up with having to read through reports of psychiatric circumstances that are like a work of fiction.  The write up of events where I was present and which are inaccurate and subjective.  I'm speaking as a reflective practitioner and as someone who has learnt how to write accurate notes.  Therefore I can spot the difference.

Well, I've deleted the Email and will keep on trying to get justice.  Even if it means I have to rewrite some/many of the notes myself.  Which is likely to happen.  I've always enjoyed a good piece of fiction and escapism.  But not in the real life situation of psychiatric institutions where, in my opinion, there has to be transparency and accountability.  Otherwise there will be miscarriages of justice and human rights abuses.

(I use italics for words that I don't particularly like or agree with but are in common use)


  1. I was once working with a lady who came off all her meds and was doing sorta OK. Then she got a hankering for the docs to tell her that she was doing the right thing. The hospital docs, no less. You can guess how that turned out.

  2. Hi Corinna - thanks for commenting - and how did the story end, regarding the lady and keeping well after coming off meds?