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Episode 2 - Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency

Our mental health has changed. This once taboo subject is now in the spotlight, with everyone from the Royal Princes, to school children, being prepared to talk about it. But with a rise in awareness has come a surge in people asking for help or harming themselves.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has opened its doors to cameras to show what it means to be in crisis. This new four-part series takes us to the heart of front line services as staff struggle to tackle an unprecedented rise in demand.  

There are nearly 5000 more adults a year being referred to mental health services in Nottinghamshire than 10 years ago, and last year saw a 67% rise in young people self-harming. Over the same time period budgets have barely risen and resources are more strained than ever before.

Following psychiatrists and nurses in the community, on mental health wards, in rapid response police street triage teams and specialist services, the series reveals a system struggling to cope.

In programme one we meet 16-year-old Olivia, who’s on a psychiatric ward. Since being bullied at school three years ago, she’s fallen into a pattern of regular self-harm and suicide attempts. Her mum is struggling to keep her safe.

In a video she makes to help others in a similar position she explains: “I’ve just been discharged from hospital and I’m really hoping to get back on track with things and I don’t want to be admitted to anywhere like that ever again because it’s not nice. Like, it’s not where I want to be in life.”

Her mum Nichola has to keep anything sharp and all medicines locked away.

“When she was younger she had friends at school, she was kind of fun loving…It hurts to know that my daughter feels that badly about herself or about anything that she would want to hurt herself like that. But it’s quite impossible really to stop her from gaining access to anything she could hurt herself with,” says Nichola

Over the past year, Macy, 14, has started to have issues with eating and she’s at risk of doing permanent damage to her body.  She’s been put under the care of a specialist eating disorder team. If she can’t put on weight, she faces being admitted to hospital, where she would have to undergo a compulsory weight gain programme.

Macy explains: “We have this name, Gollum, who is my anorexia. Kind of a big black mask and it gets its tentacles into your brain, latches round you, pulls tight.”

“At the beginning of this I thought well of course I can help, because I’m her mum and I’m a doctor and I should be able to navigate my way around it and it has been really horrible that I haven’t been able to sort her out,” says her mum Kate.

Tanya, 13, arrives in A&E having self-harmed but just can’t get the diagnosis she feels she needs.

“I do know people that have self-harm accounts and will post pictures daily of their self-harm.

Self-harm’s a trend now, a trend. People go around doing it for the fun of it just like ‘oh yeah let’s just do it’ and then they’ll stare in class and compare it like there’s nothing wrong with that. When obviously there’s something wrong with that,” says Tanya.

Child and Adult Mental Health nurse, Steph Langley, explains: “You’ve always had teenagers with low mood but I think nowadays there’s more teenagers that are kind of acting out on the self-harm thoughts, there’s more teenagers taking their own lives and I think there’s a lot more young people that actually know somebody who self-harms. One of the questions in the assessment forms is about ‘when did you first get the idea to self-harm?’ And very often you get the answer ‘my friend does it’.”

Visit the Channel 4 website to watch last weeks episode and to find out more.



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