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MENTAL HEALTH

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LEAVING NHS MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AND GOING PRIVATE


I’ve been in and out of all sorts of NHS mental health services since I was 14, and I can’t recall one positive experience. I know the NHS is struggling, and I’m not saying that it’s terrible, because we all know they save lives everyday. But the mental health side is severely lacking, it’s underfunded and not prioritised. People are taking their own lives everyday, and honestly it could be prevented. I’ve seen endless amounts of people on social media telling of their terrible experiences getting mental health support, the big one recently being how shocking it is when you go to your GP and you’re handed a leaflet. (Don’t get me started on that whole thing.)

So after having counselling, CBT, seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist on the NHS, I was still no better and felt extremely frustrated about how I was being treat, I wasn’t being taken serious enough, I wasn’t getting the intense treatment I needed. (Just a side note, I had to make several attempts on my life to finally get “moved up” from seeing a nurse to a psychiatrist.) And that is still happening to people today. Before going private, I asked the service I was admitted to if I could see different people, preferably a male, if I could do my CBT over the phone instead of face to face (a huge struggle of mine,) but no. You have no choice or flexibility with your treatment, even if it’s not working for you.

I’m nearly 21 now, and it got to the point where I was so frustrated about how mentally ill I was and how bad the treatment was that I felt I had no option but to take matters into my own hands. And that’s when I had the first thought about hiring a private therapist.
I simply just googled “private therapists,” and I found a website called Skype Therapies. Basically it’s a website full of profiles of counsellors/psychiatrists of all different ability’s, specialising in certain issues, for different prices.

I scrolled through so many profiles and narrowed it down to three people I liked the look of, and weren’t the most expensive. Skype therapies had an option to e-mail or call the professionals direct, so I emailed them all telling them my story. I woke up the next morning and they’d all replied, the one woman I picked out seemed the “nicest,” and although she didn’t have high enough qualifications to be dealing with a complex illness like mine, I didn’t mind because I just really liked her. So we arranged a first consultation which is free an an hour long, she told me a time to be logged in to Skype and she would Skype video call me. At first, it was scary and awkward, but once I got talking I felt so much better.

Just after the consultation I got more off my chest in 30 minutes than I ever did in any session on the NHS. And that’s because I had control, I got to pick out this woman and see if I liked her first, I was at home in my room, she wasn’t with me, I could close my phone at any second if I felt awkward, there wasn’t the fear of being trapped in a room 1 on 1 with somebody, I had my home comforts next to me, the list is endless. I can’t express how much of a nicer experience it is talking to someone over Skype and not face to face, in a bland room in an NHS outpatient facility. I felt so relived and happy after my first session, that I just started crying because I was so glad to finally have a professional that I liked, and I was in control of, in a relaxed environment.

If you struggle with face to face therapy, or just don’t feel you’re getting the help you need on the NHS, I can not recommend using Skype Therapies to find yourself a private doctor enough. I honestly think this would change lives if more people knew how accessible it was.

Of course, private treatment costs, a lot. Some more than others, dependant upon qualifications. For example, a counsellor on Skype Therapies could cost anywhere from £25-£50 an hour, however a Psychiatrist can cost £100-£200 an hour.

I paid for a lot of my sessions with a credit card, which is now maxed out and leaving me with pretty
much no money each month. I’m currently unemployed due to my mental health, so paying back that debt is incredibly hard - to the point I can’t sleep at night worrying about the debt. So I don’t recommend that, unless you’re in a full time job and can manage payments easily, or you can pay your therapist without the use of a credit card. This also means I’ve had to stop my therapy, so I’m currently getting no support for my Borderline Personality Disorder, severe anxiety and depression - and it’s tough, I’m relying solely on my medication now. But if you’re struggling, this is totally worth looking into. Just don’t get yourself into crippling debt, because that will make your mental health worse.

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