Maggie’s Experience of Life in a Secure Inpatient Mental Health Unit

In 2019, Healthwatch Essex released a report following a study conducted in a secure inpatient mental health unit which worked with young people in Essex. SWEET!3, which can be read here, found that young people often experienced delays in receiving the treatment they needed. One of these young people was Maggie, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. Maggie’s experience is described below:

“I had too much to deal with, and no-one to talk to.” – Maggie

Maggie first experienced mental health problems in secondary school as a result of bullying. She had also experienced a relationship breakdown and difficulties in her home life, which caused her mental health to deteriorate.

Maggie had been attending sessions with her school counsellor, but as her mental health worsened the counsellor referred her to CAMHS in November 2016. The date of Maggie’s first CAMHS appointment was for four months later, in March 2017. Maggie tried to cope with her mental health problems alone in the four months leading up to her appointment, but in January 2017 she reached crisis point and was admitted to Poplar Adolescent Unit. Maggie felt that if she could have been supported sooner, her crisis could have been avoided.

Since being admitted to the hospital, there had been a delay and Maggie had not seen a doctor or had the opportunity to discuss any treatments during her first week at the ward. She explained that although she initially felt relieved at being admitted to hospital, where she believed she would begin to get the help she needed, she was feeling disappointed. As well as this, Maggie had experienced feeling isolated by other patients. A culmination of these factors meant that Maggie was considering discharging herself. She said that she did not know what to do for the best.

Later in our study, Maggie told us she had begun treatment and was feeling more positive about her stay at the ward and the progress she had made. She felt enthusiastic about returning to a new secondary school and hoped to go on to study Biochemistry in her future. Maggie was discharged soon after this discussion.