“That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did!”



Spoiler Alert:  This Blog contains rants!

A friend of ours (my wife and I) has had to tolerate some fairly unpleasant and traumatic experiences in her life and, as a consequence, was recently sectioned under section 2 of the mental health act.

Having been detained for several days, without any form of talking therapy because that seems to come under a different section of the Mental Health Act (and heaven forbid you should mix the two sections), she finally got to meet the consulting Doctor who was responsible for establishing her short term care plan and deciding whether or not she could be released back into the wild.

Knowing that my friend struggles to open up to professionals, which given her experiences with them is fully justified, I attended a ‘Ward Round’ meeting.  This I assumed would be a nice cosy little chat with us and her Doctor.  I was wrong…

I was given permission, by my friend and the staff, to attend the meeting so we were both led into a small rectangular room which was lined along one side of its’ full length by chairs with two chairs positioned opposite.  Inside were about seven or eight people all with differing roles and levels of responsibility.

Being confronted with what looked like the Spanish Inquisition, my initial response was to state quite loudly, “We’ll this isn’t at all intimidating…is it?!”  In my defence, I certainly didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition who’s chief weapon of surprise still appears to be as effective as it ever was.  We both then sat down and were introduced to each of the attending professionals after which I introduced myself.

And shortly after, for those of you who have stuck with this thus far, was the part that really…really angered me.  About half way through the meeting I looked to my far left to see one of the ‘professionals’ looking at her tablet.  She had shielded the screen with a piece of paper so that the other professionals could not see what she was doing but I could still see it very clearly, as could my friend who was being assessed.  In response to what I saw I stared sternly at the woman who then shuffled in her chair, closed her tablet, placed a piece of paper over it, pretended it never happened and pulled her best “I am actually quite interested in these proceedings” face.

Having continued sitting quietly for a few minutes trying to convince myself that I should let it go…I could not.  My anger forced me to stop the meeting, to apologise to the Doctor who was then speaking at which point I turned to the woman on my far left and asked “what her role was again?” at the meeting.

“Specialist *(something)” she replied.

“Okay…I see…it’s just that I’m sitting here getting really angry as you are obviously here to decide the future of my friend here and you’re clearly sitting there playing Candy Crush on your tablet!”

“No…what?  No…I wasn’t…”  She lifted her phone to show me the silent button on the side of it.  “You see…I put my phone on silent.”

“What?  Phone?  I didn’t say phone, I said tablet!”

“Tablet?  No, no I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t do that.  I wasn’t doing that.”  At this point, rather than looking indignant, she looked agitated and flushed.

“But I saw you playing it and then you stopped playing it as I stared at you because you knew I’d seen you.  You know what you’ve done, Please don’t try to deny it!  Now, please, try to stay in the room will you?”

It was at that point that I remembered that we had limited time with the ‘professionals’ and so decided that, accepting I had re-gained her attention, continuing this line of discussion would not help my friends’ cause any further.

I later spoke to my friend who stated that the professionals appreciated my attendance as I provided information that they had not yet been aware of, however, they confirmed that the woman was not playing with her tablet and they know that because she said so.

It’s not enough that someone has to have endured all of the things that my friend has had to at the hands of ‘bad people’ that she then finally gets to be supported by those who would profess to be ‘good’ people and she is completely let down.  I worry for those who have mental health issues in this world and who are judged unfairly by most members of public and professionals alike and who are overlooked and dismissed by the ignorant but I worry more so for those who are then reliant on a health service that is underfunded and at times completely uninterested.

I am still angry about this, as you can see, so will need to go away for half an hour to calm down.  In the meantime, if anyone needs me, I’ll be incensed.

*So angry was I at this point that I heard specialist and little else.

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