About: St Lukes General / Psychiatry

(as a service user),

Not everyone is comfortable using the spoken word to express how they feel. Making and/or receiving phone calls can be extremely stressful for some. In the Mental Health services in Kilkenny you can text your CMHN, which is great. Until said Nurse is on leave. Calls are then transferred to another CMHN who works with the same Consultant. All fine unless you're in the habit of texting, because that is what is comfortable for you. If you text, it goes unread, because there is no system in place to transfer these. Not sure if it's possible to transfer text, it is perhaps not. But if it cannot be done, there's no system in place for dealing with the needs of service users who communicate with their CMHN via text. None.

I think this is shameful. I wasn't even forewarned that my CMHN was going to be on leave. You might be if you receive a regular visit, but I don't. I rarely receive a visit from the CMHN. And just because you don't make contact with your CMHN, whether via phone call or text (emails seemingly are NOT an option for you at all, despite what you read on HSE documents) does NOT mean everything is wonderful for you. Things are often not wonderful at all. Things can be extremely difficult, and you can be skating very close to the edge of complete darkness, feeling suicidal, unable to express any of it with the spoken word. Finally, maybe, (and then again, maybe not) you gather the courage & energy to reach out, and you text your CMHN, not knowing this person is on leave. You get no answer. None.

No communication of any description. Simply nothing. Did it EVER occur to the Mental Health Services the possible impact of this? You talk A LOT about individual care plans, and respecting each service user's needs as regards communicating, but what about the unanswered texts? Even if just ONE person uses text for communication there should be a system in place for when the CMHN is on leave. Otherwise a tragedy is a possibility. I'm still alive despite my unanswered texts. This time. Who knows about next time? I doubt very much I would even bother communicating in ANY way with the Community Mental Health Services. My last text went unacknowledged, but thankfully it was not a life or death situation. Rare visits, rare contact at all, unanswered texts, no provision for your needs when CMHN is away........it doesn't exactly foster the idea it's ok not to be ok. In my experience it can FAR from ok if you're not ok. Where & to who do you turn? I know if I am suicidal again, and I have been of late, I know the Community Mental Health Services are the last place I'd look for help. The last. That's if I had even the slightest faith in them at all. And no, that's not my illness talking, it's a calm & considered viewpoint in light of past experiences. I just hope & pray I'm the only one to feel as I do, but I very much doubt it.  

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