There is much talk in the mental health community around recovery. People talk about their own recovery. Doctor’s talk about recovery. I don’t know about the rest of the U.K. but here in Bristol the primary care teams are even called Recovery.
I’ve always had a problem with the word Recovery for several reasons. The main reason being most of us with a mental illness won’t “recover” per se, we just need to learn to live with the illness we have. One of the biggest issues I’ve always had with the NHS’ approach to mental health (aside from the lack of care) is that they have a “stick a plaster on it” approach.
What I mean by this is you get to crisis point (because you don’t get to mental health services before crisis point). Then you get into the recovery team, they then review your medications, alter them if they think it’s necessary, and then they maintain you to ensure you don’t get to crisis point again. They don’t help you “recover”, they don’t help you work towards a better life for yourself their aim is purely about you not getting worse, you are stuck, sick.
That’s where I was and in October last year, around the time I went AWOL from here in fact, I started to backslide, things got so bad that my recovery team were talking about long term hospitalisation. I luckily, narrowly avoided it with many thanks to my Husband but because I showed willing to work hard they told me about a new team which was run for the NHS but within the voluntary sector.
After a referral process which included a home visit from them to assess me for suitability for their programme I was accepted and started working with them in December. The team focus on rehabilitation using psychological techniques.
They have a small caseload and dedicate more time to each patient, I get visits of up to two hours 2-3 times per week. These visits include helping me overcome anxiety to leave the house and go for walks. Tackling psychological exercises such as mindfulness, CBT, DBT. I have clear goals I am working to with my case workers, and a stepped plan to reach each goal.
The great thing about rehabilitation is there is a clear end goal, for me to be functioning at the end of this. For me to be able to work, to participate in society the way I used to and want to. Even better it is teaching me tools and techniques to handle mood swings, emotions, and aspects of having bipolar which medication alone cannot.
This is how all mental health patients should be treated, at least all mental health patients should get the opportunity to receive this kind of support and help.
The drawback is that this only lasts for a year then regardless where I am in my progress I get booted back to the recovery team. But that’s a year where I will work my butt off and learn as much as possible.