Mental-health provision ‘an indictment of human rights’

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And she says that the failures in leadership and management – and apparent unwillingness to take mental illness seriously – would never be tolerated in the UK or elsewhere.

Karen Wilson, a trustee with charity Focus on Mental Illness, said: ‘There is a huge gap between what is needed and what is provided in Jersey.

‘It’s an indictment of human rights that people do not have the right to access really good mental-health treatment here.’

Ms Wilson was speaking out in advance of World Mental Health Day today. She has worked in mental health in the UK for 30 years, both for the National Health Service and for mental-health charities in the north-west of England, and undertook a review of the standards of care in Jersey two years ago.

She said that since then little had improved.

Ms Wilson said: ‘There are some seriously mentally ill people in the Island and they should be getting much better care. It’s what they would expect in the UK or other European countries.’

She was particularly critical of psychiatric unit Orchard House, accusing it of offering only two treatments.

‘It’s containment or drugs,’ she said. ‘There are other therapies we would expect in Britain, like electroconvulsive therapy for people with severe depression, or cognitive behavioural therapy.’

She added: ‘There’s no real consideration of what happens when you leave hospital. Some people don’t have any follow-up or it’s disjointed, inconsistent and patchy. So people come out, relapse, go back in, come out, relapse again – it’s a revolving door.

The inequalities here are huge. If you are rich, you can pay for a psychiatrist or occupational therapist to come over. If you don’t have any money, you are left with very, very basic care.’

And she said: ‘When you try to get treatment for people off-island, it’s a bureaucratic nightmare. That will impact on the recovery of the individual involved.

‘What is needed are people who know how to manage mental-illness services. People don’t have experience of it here. Governments have to put the energy, effort and resources into it.’

Other people who have encountered services agreed. Andy Le Seelleur’s wife suffered from mental illness and took her own life five years ago. An independent review found the care she had received was not good enough.

Improvements were promised but he observed: ‘I don’t think too much progress has been made since then.

‘They do support a lot of people very successfully, but I hear on a regular basis from people who found the services were not up to scratch. I would like to see a bit more urgency.’

Malcolm Ferey, who is chief executive of brain injury charity Headway Jersey and formerly ran Citizens’ Advice Jersey, has significant experience of Islanders in crisis.

He said: ‘There is a lot of focus on young people’s mental health, which is great. But there are a lot of older people who are suffering in silence. Younger people are more likely to respond, but older people with mental illnesses may not. The services need to be more proactive and not just reactive.’

However, the government strongly refuted the claims. A spokesperson said: ‘Health and Community Services work closely with a number of charities and partner organisations in Jersey and enjoy good relationships with them. It is upsetting for the colleagues mentioned to see these claims.

‘It also has the potential to undermine public confidence in our services, which is upsetting for the individuals who use them and their families.

‘By their very nature, mental-health services are complex and can be emotive. HCS teams do all they can to provide services tailored to the individual.’

The spokesperson added: ‘As a team, all those involved in HCS in mental-health services at every level are committed to learning, changing services to meet needs, and doing the very best for every individual who seeks their support. HCS are always happy to receive any feedback about their services.’

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