‘My social worker understood’: the difference social care made to one man’s mental health

Lee Brookes, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder eight years ago, shares his experience of social care support...

Today mental health charity Mind has warned that budget cuts have seen thousands of people with mental health needs denied social care support. Here Lee Brookes (pictured), who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006, explains how social care input made a critical difference to his health.

“I can come across as very articulate; I have owned and managed two businesses. On a surface level, it can seem like I’m OK, but I can often spend three weeks under my bed, hiding from the light. I’ve not washed for long periods of time, not changed my clothes for days, not done the dishes and not done any housework – all because I just can’t. Often people don’t understand that with mental health problems your needs can fluctuate like that.

“My social worker, Helen, understood that but I know that other people don’t. She visited me to talk about the things that I used to enjoy doing but I just didn’t feel well enough to do, like listening to music, reading, or exercising. As I would often feel very manic, she asked me what things I would like to do to calm me down. It was like having someone give your old life back to you.

“My care plan has had far reaching consequences, not just on my mental health but also on my physical health and my social life. I had put on a lot of weight as a side effect from the medication I was taking so part of the plan was for me to go to the gym and go walking every week. I also plotted out time to do housework, get further therapy, and develop my hobbies. Those weekly plans gave me some structure back.

“I’m still being supported by mental health services and there is no way that I’d be as healthy as I am now without social care.”

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One Response to ‘My social worker understood’: the difference social care made to one man’s mental health

  1. Audrey Clark March 16, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    This story is so positive but the one I want to share is not and illustrates how social services can wriggle out of their obligations when they determine that a person’s needs are due to mental illness. Last year I was trying to help one of valued members who had been through a period of illness with cancer. He received the all clear but the after effects of being incontinent had a major effect on him and he began to lose weight. He was having problems with shopping, cleaning and cooking and needed help with personal care. I discussed all this with his GP and asked if he could get social services involved but he didn’t so I rang them and explained the situation. They were very helpful we went through a set of questions and he was put on the waiting list.., with an urgent marker.
    I was calling them weekly to see when he would be assessed and finally after 5 months he got a TELEPHONE ASSESSMENT! Because by now all this
    was affecting his mental health they washed their hands of him and we had to start again with a referral to the local CMHT . They very quickly got him practical support pending him receiving his personal budget to buy in the help he needs. The upshot is that this man’s mental and physical health has detiorated to a point now that could have been improved with the correct intervention of social services when we asked for it in May last year.
    I am concerned that with even more budget cuts we would be in danger of losing people like my friend here who would have been lost if not for the support he receives from community organisations like Brentwood Community Print and Brentwood Mind.