The Practice Manager of the GP is responsible for making sure the surgery runs smoothly. All the administrative staff have up to date training.

The receptionists are trained to greet patients and visitors, book, amend or cancel appointments but have no idea how to prioritise a Mental Health patient who is having a crisis.

I am not only speaking on a personal level but have heard this complaint amongst many patients.

A patient with mental health issues is feeling unstable and is likely to reach crisis point. The first point of contact is to ring their GP.

The receptionist has no idea how critical time is for the patient and informs them that all the doctors are all busy ring back or go on the online app at 8am the next day, bear in mind, these apps are not dependable.

Will there be a tomorrow for these failed patients???

This is a widespread problem that happens to many mental health patients. You cannot get past reception!

The Medical staff are not aware that the patient had made contact in person or by phone.

Are the receptionists to be blamed? No!

Back in 2011, I had the same experience which landed me in the ED after going home and taking a drug overdose. If it weren’t for the fact my sister had called me, I would never have made it.

If I had been allowed to see my doctor, I may have saved a lot of people heartache and time. I am grateful to be alive to share this frightening experience.

The horrendous thing about it is that not everyone will make it.

 The victims of suicide are failed because of the lack of training.

It is sad to say that it has been ten years on from my experience, and nothing has changed.

 Recently, I have tried getting through to the receptionist for someone I know and ended up with the same result.

 I have actually had a conversation with a doctor, the other day,  from another surgery to complain about how they have neglected training their receptionist staff.

The difference today is only that they have a crisis line for those who are already known to the community mental health teams.

They also have Talking Therapies for those who want to receive therapy but unfortunately the waiting lists can be exceptionally long.

People who are going through a crisis are not normally motivated in any way to search the web for services or to want to communicate unless their minds have been stabilised.

I definitely would not recommend social media depression or anxiety groups as they tend to make people feel worse. I have been on some of them and felt like my problems had doubled after reading all the comments.

Mental illness such as depression/bipolar is invisible and people think that because somebody is smiling or able to communicate that they are stable.

The state of mind can be deceiving as not all of us want to walk around miserably. I smile even when I feel torn up inside, as I don’t want to ruin someone else’s day.

I have tried my best to keep, what I call, my dark side hidden from outside but sometimes it is not at all possible. I have panic attacks and can present destructive behaviour that is why I walk out of any situation that makes me feel under pressure.

Although a GP is trained in medicine, they do not specialise in psychiatry hence why they refer you to a doctor who work in this field.

The patients are unique and different, they are not all textbook patients, and their behaviours can sometimes be unpredictable.

I am not a qualified psychiatrist, but I have worked with mental health patients.

I also have been studying psychology and mental health first aid as well as first-hand experience living with this dreaded illness for most of my life.

Natalie Bleau

The Scripture of Balance

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