Content warning: Rafael’s story has some descriptions of sectioning and restraint.
I’m a British Muslim of Asian background living with a mental health condition. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018. I live in Surrey and work in Central London, and I’m a Mind campaigner.
My experience of being sectioned was a horrible ordeal. On the day it happened, I was on my way to meet a relative, and out of nowhere, police officers rushed me aggressively with no explanation given. Their hostility left me injured and has not only impacted my work, but also other aspects of my life. The incident still haunts me.
During my sectioning, I felt ignored and alone. I felt extremely vulnerable as I had no way to contact my family or friends to let them know how I was doing.
The hospital experience was a nightmare. I was treated unfairly. I was put in isolation twice, one of which was as soon as I entered the hospital. I felt incredibly violated as I had no privacy. I pleaded to be able to read something or choose something to listen to. I was completely ignored.
While in hospital, I was dragged, pinned down and assaulted by staff, leaving me terrified. This is unacceptable. Hospitals should be a place for care and safety, not somewhere where patients leave worse than when they came in.
I believe the Mental Health Act is outdated. Legislation should be in place to protect people, not make them feel like they’re criminals. If you had been through my experience or knew someone who had been through my experience, you would want change too. Change to enable people living with mental health conditions to live more freely and with confidence. Not feeling persecuted.
I think hospital stays should include weekly patient-led meetings with consultants for feedback. Legislation must curb excessive force by both police and hospital staff. Reforming the Mental Health Act is a crucial first step to give people more say in their treatment and strengthen their rights while in hospital. It’s time for change. It’s time to Raise the Standard.
Mind will be in touch soon asking you to help put pressure on the UK government for urgent change. I hope you will join me in taking action.