Things every psychiatrist wants their patient to know (Professor Kamaldeep Bhui)
1 November 2017
Getting access to a psychiatrist can take a while (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
As a psychiatric outpatient, I’ve found that accessing support for a mental illness can feel like an uphill struggle.
Then, when we finally get access to a psychiatrist, we only have 15 short minutes with them.
Time with a psychiatrist is like gold, but what do they really want us to know that may help us during a crisis? Firstly, they want us to know that mental illnesses are not rare or unique. Professor of psychiatry, Professor Kamaldeep Bhui, a psychiatrist at Queen Mary University says ‘I want my patients to know that mental illnesses are common. That depression is the biggest case of medical disability of all medical illnesses.’ And Dr Alys Cole-King, a consultant liaison psychiatrist at Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board and Director at Connectingwithpeople.org agrees. ‘I want anyone in distress to know that thousands of people every day experience overwhelming suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm. ‘But they do find ways to get through these intense feelings. ‘Like them, you can get through it,’ Dr Cole-King says. She says and has even made a film to reiterate her point for service users who struggle. She also led the development of Staying Safe to offer hope, practical ideas and suggestions on how to find a way forward, including information designed for children and young people with advice on which adults should be approached for support, in order of safety. ‘Most people with anxiety and depression do not receive any treatment,’ says Professor Bhui. According to him in the future, with medical sciences – especially neuroscience and psychotherapies – advancing fast, we can hope to have better treatments for people with mental illness sooner. ‘Therapies and medications come in many forms and can have side effects, so carefully weigh up what is right for you,’ he says. ‘Ask questions. Use your psychiatrist’s knowledge and expertise to inform yourself but choose what you think will help and keep up with friends and family as help and support is a powerful factor in recovery.’ Psychiatrists hope that we never forget that ‘recovery’ is always possible. Dr Cole- King says: ‘My wish is that anyone who is struggling knows that they can get through tough times.’
Psychiatrists don’t want their patients to feel alone (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
She also wishes that more people knew that suicidal thoughts are a sign to change something in your life, not to end your life, and that it IS possible to recover, with the right support. ‘All of us need a safety plan, just in case we ever feel that life isn’t worth living – this will include things we can do for ourselves and people to contact for support. ‘Suicidal thoughts are far more common than people realise but we tend not to talk about them – it can be embarrassing or frightening to tell another person about them. ‘Secrecy is the big enemy here. Talking about how you are feeling is the first step to helping you say safe. ‘The key is to cope with things one day at a time and to seek support.’ Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Kate Lovett, says that you can take steps to recovery as soon as in your first consultation. It is then where the psychiatrist will do most of the listening and likely have a conversation about what the person is experiencing, their current situation and life stresses and more about them as a person, their upbringing, social networks, interests and what makes them tick. What you tell your psychiatrist is confidential and they will not disclose what you tell them to anybody else without your permission – it’s a safe space. In my experience as a service user, with friends with similar illnesses, I’ve found psychiatrists look at the whole person.
No psychiatric assessment and diagnosis is complete without careful thought about psychological, social and biological factors,” says Dr Lovett. ‘After diagnosis, a psychiatrist and their patient weigh up the pros and cons of different routes together and make a choice about what will be most helpful.’ Professor Bhui concludes, ‘Your diagnosis does not tell us about you – only you can do that.’
Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/30/things-every-psychiatrist-wants-their-patient-to-know-7028127/?ito=cbshare
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