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  • Writer's pictureHannah Larkin

Be a voice to those who don’t have one

Updated: May 23, 2022

The last few weeks have been a complete rollacoaster regarding my treatment plan. It’s flipped from one thing to the next in every meeting and I’ve had 4 big meetings in the matter of 2 weeks. Yesterday, my consultant psychiatrist and the person with the biggest influence and last day in my care, retired. And suddenly, my treatment has done another run but this time, far more in line with what I have been trying to say.

As much as I’m happy about it, I think it’s incredibly sad that an entire team went along with one persons views or at least didn’t feel able to voice their own when they were around. And unfortunately, I have ground this to be incredibly common in health care, particularly psychiatric. There’s seems to be an unspoken fear of advocating for someone if your stays is lower than the person with another opinion. In a previous admission at another hospital, there was a huge bullying nature within the team, mainly towards patients but sometimes other staff too. There was only one staff members who ever stood up for herself or others and she got fired. As a patient, trying to tell people so and so said one thing to then be shut down, naturally presumed to be lying probably not helped by the help you have a mental health issue is so incredible agonising. I’ve been in positions where I have recorded all my conversations and interactions with staff due to them complete changing their tune in front of those they may be afraid of or have less power than or just down right lying to cover their own backs.

I’m not quite sure what causes this huge issue within so many hospitals and mental health teams or how to deal with it but I do know that it’s a culture that is created by continuation. When a new staff meneber joins, they will naturally observe other staff and follow that behaviour, way of speaking and treatment of patients. Or if not, they will be too afraid to stand up for you when they see something they know isn’t right. I have only been to one hospital that want like this, maybe because it was adolescent I’m not entirely sure but the entire team their had a very high standard and would hold each other accountable at even the smallest things. This enabled the team to grow and develop in a positive way despite a constant change of staffing and as far as I’m aware, is better than ever now.

I’m sure this happens in other work environments too however I think it happening in health care is incredibly worrying. This is when people are at their most vulnerable and if even the staff are too scared to communicate an issue they see or advocate for your needs, what hope is there in people getting the right help? And as far as bullying and abuse is concerned, people come to hospital or see treatment teams because they need help and to then be slapped in the face with further trauma, gaslighting or misery is really concerning.

Anyway, I’m glad my team are listening now but saddened it took for someone to leave for them to start doing so. If you work in any kind of health care, I really encourage you to stand up to anything you think is wrong whether it’s someone’s care plan or the treatment of a patient by staff or professionals. It’s incredibly frightening to feel like the very people who have completely control over you can do so in a negative way.

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