“I feel completely stuck”- Joe shares his experience with mental health services during lockdown

Joe, from Clapton-in-Gordano in North Somerset, lives with a mental health condition called depersonalisation disorder.
Joe has struggled to manage his mental health during lockdown

He visited his GP in February 2020 and asked to be referred to a psychiatrist. 8 months later, changes to mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic mean Joe still hasn’t heard anything about his referral.

Depersonalisation disorder is a type of dissociative disorder. Symptoms can include feelings of being outside yourself. Joe describes it as “feeling like you’re in a dreamlike state. The feeling is similar to being drunk or having déjà vu all the time.”

He adds:

“The severity, longevity and nature of the symptoms vary from one patient to the next – some are able to hide it and continue living fairly normally; but for many, it can absolutely ruin your life.”

After trying various forms of specialist treatment over many years, he made an appointment with his GP to discuss a referral to a psychiatrist, which he hoped would enable him to access specialist medication and treatment. In March, Joe rang up to check the progress of his referral.

“They said the referral had indeed gone off following my GP appointment, but then everything shut down due to Covid. They said services would be reopening soon – but they’ll have a huge backlog of referrals to work through so to expect a (further) long wait. I’m hoping I might be towards the top of the pile once they start processing them – but I’ve learned not to get my hopes up with regards to timescales.”

Joe is frustrated with the fact that some mental health services closed down during lockdown. “It’s the not knowing that’s difficult,” he says. “I feel completely stuck.”

He also says he doesn’t know who to contact, other than his GP, to chase up his referral. “More communication would make life so much easier,” he said. “I understand that 2020 has been unprecedented, but problems don’t just vanish because something unprecedented happens.”

We want to know more about how people in North Somerset have managed their mental health during lockdown. If, like Joe, you've been struggling or are on a waiting list for help, we want to hear from you. Click here to fill in our survey.

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