The Mental Health Act and Me

The Mental Health Act changed my life forever in so many negative ways – and that’s why it’s so important for me to do everything in my power to prevent others from experiencing this kind of treatment.

Georgi Lopez

Our supporter, Georgie shares her powerful story of being detained the under the Mental Health Act and why she’s campaigning to make sure it better protects people’s rights.

When I think of the Mental Health Act, it’s not positive thoughts that come to mind. It’s not gratitude for how it saved me or helped me to recover. And it’s not how it kept me safe or eased my parents worries. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Instead, I think of the pain that I’ve suffered at its hands. I think of the unrelenting worry it caused my family and how large of a part it has played in taking away five years of my life.

I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of sixteen and shortly after - three weeks before I sat my final AS exams - I was forced to leave behind my textbooks and my application to Oxford University, to be admitted to a mental health ward. Little did I know that it would be the first of many institutions in which I’d be ‘treated’.

For the first few weeks, I complied with the treatment that I had been prescribed, but following the first meeting with my psychiatrist I was told that I would be assessed to be detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act and would begin taking a daily dose of highly sedative medication.

My parents and I objected – up until this point I had been following my treatment plan without the need for coercion or detention. Our concerns fell on deaf ears and the following morning I was detained and - after declining the new medication - forcibly injected.

Despite having done everything I was asked, my autonomy had been taken away. I felt defeated and utterly hopeless.

  • Despite having done everything I was asked, my autonomy had been taken away. I felt defeated and utterly hopeless.

Unfortunately, the ease at which individuals can be sectioned under the Act and the way in which it can be used to justify unnecessarily forceful treatment is one of the many problems with the current legislation. Another is the ability of a single psychiatrist to make binding decisions about a patient’s care, without considering the patients’ or their family’s opinions. My thoughts and ideas about my own treatment and recovery were disregarded: as if I couldn’t possibly have any intelligent input into my own illness or treatment. My parent’s concerns were consistently ignored, and their hundreds of emails left unanswered.

However, I consider myself very lucky to have experienced the Act in a positive way at the second unit where I was treated. The team involved me in my own care and helped me to rediscover who I was beneath the eating disorder. Today, two years on from discharge, I have finally re-discovered my love of life.

The Mental Health Act changed my life forever in so many negative ways – and that’s why it’s so important for me to do everything in my power to prevent others from experiencing this kind of treatment. Sharing my story has been difficult, but thanks to Rethink Mental Illness, I have found my voice, and I will not stop until people detained under the Act get the care and treatment they deserve.

 

Do you also have a story of being detained under the Mental Health Act? We'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with the campaigns team at campaigns@rethink.org

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