"EIP Early Intervention in Psychosis"

About: Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services

(as a parent/guardian),

After years of seeking help the EIP service has been literally a lifesaver for my son and our whole family. The support given by the EIP team has resulted in our son progressing from being locked in his room and unable to leave the house to passing his driving test and getting a job. This happened with excellent therapy and minimal medication.

This was all made possible by the EIP team and especially our family therapist whose expertise moved my son from a really dark place to a degree of  independence but there is a way to go. Her skills supported the us through this, teaching family members skills and understanding of how to communicate constructively in family relationships supporting a much loved family member with mental issues.

I am taking the unusual step of sending my concern to this site in the hope that others might share my anxiety that the key part of this service has been withdrawn and our appointments abruptly ended. The impact on us not attending and the withdrawal of the counseling is immeasurable. The anxiety of this compounded with the anxiety of Covid-19 has sent the whole family into a spin and has impacted negatively on him already. Why would this vital family therapist be transferred when this service is needed more than ever? I totally understand the crises and need for staff but someone with their skills needs to be at the frontline of mental health not only to give value to the service and to recognize it's importance but patients and their families need her experience and expertise. Lives are at stake here too. I'm sure we are not the only family affected by this person's cancellation of appointments.

I hope intervention can be made to reinstate her for Family Therapy for her current clients at least during the emergency because of the pivotal role she played in our family. I also want to acknowledge the support of the rest of the EIP team who undoubtedly will be impacted negatively by this development.

Please don't break something that is working so well.

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Response from Donagh O'Neill, Consultant Psychiatrist, South/West Sligo Team, Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services 4 years ago
Donagh O'Neill
Consultant Psychiatrist, South/West Sligo Team,
Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services
Submitted on 27/03/2020 at 16:02
Published on Care Opinion on 30/03/2020 at 10:12

picture of Donagh O'Neill


Thank you for writing down you story today on Care Opinion. I am very pleased that you and your family have found the Early Interventions to be of great therapeutic benefit to your son and your family. I am grateful that you have outlined the current difficulties faced by many patients and families due to the current Pandemic and the abrupt disruption to Mental Health Services. I have shared your concerns with the EIP Team and Management.

We will endeavour to keep in contact with our patients during this difficult time and we have begun conducting phone reviews to replace face to face meetings wherever possible.

Your post helps to inform our Service of the significant impact that this disruption is having on our patients and their families and I appreciate that you have taken the time to describe this impact.

We will endeavour to provide as regular a service as can be achieved during this challenging time.

Dr Donagh O'Neill, Clinical Lead, EIP Program

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Linda (a parent/guardian)

Dr Donagh,

Thank you for your response and the reassurance that patients will have some continuity of service. I hope and trust that the full service will be reinstated as soon as the Covid-19 crises is over.

Many of my son's problems become acute when he becomes anxious. The current crises causes extra anxiety for everyone even those who never experienced anxiety and puts unique pressure on all the services. People with mental issues have even more anxiety coping with change, cancellations and change of personnelle. They can misinterpret the reasons for the change and can personalise it fitting it into their feelings of persecution.

I am in touch with another parent in a different HSE area where these supports were never available. I can compare the treatment offered here and for us, it is the only effective treatment and it is working well. This is why I was so devistated to have our family sessions and my son's appointments cancelled until further notice. Prior to EIP my sons treatment could be only described as a hamster-wheel of care. Everyone was putting in effort but getting nowhere. Since starting on this therapy my only complaint (if any) would have been the (understandable) lack availability of appointments to continue the good work.

Eighteen months ago my son started to meet members of the team and it took a considerable amount of time for him to believe in the process and one by one he began to trust the individuals. I was willing to co-operate with any treatment offered but I was not optimistic because of my previous negative experiences and my lack of understanding of mental illness.

Our key worker explained what help was available and assisted in processing applications for various supports. She supported all the family but for me it was mainly explaining what was happening giving me belief that things could change. Our Family Therapist got the overall understanding of our family situation and explained how individual members could support his therapy and indeed keep ourselves well. We didn't understand that we were facilitating his illness instead of his recovery while trying to mind/protect him. OT Brian gently persisted to get him to engage with the service and socialise and we never ceased to be amazed with the activities my son engaged with. Ian placed him in employment and supported him to stay working when he became reluctant because of challenging thoughts regarding his workplace and workmates. The FT helped the family to deal with the situation and constructively support him and taught us that his symptoms and behavior was the illness. The most amazing thing for me and our family was how this awareness and change of behavior helped so positively. Instead of a spiral downwards it became a spiral up to normality, even if there is still a long way to go.

I notice that you are the 'Clinical Lead EIP programme'. If you are responsible for this innovative programme being provided in this area I commend you. It is treatment that should be offered everywhere. I believe that the time spent on his treatment was no more than before but the outcomes are totally different.

We are finally off the hamster wheel!

Thank you to all the team

Mind yourselves and Stay well

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