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From a speech made by Grace Cassidy at the 'Time to Listen: Time to Act' campaign launch in March 2014
"I joined the group because of my sons attempted suicide and because he didn’t get the help that he needed"
Hello, my name is Grace and I have been with the Belfast Mental Health Rights Group for almost seven years.
We are a group of carers, service users and members who have lost loved ones through suicide. I joined the group because of my sons attempted suicide and because he didn’t get the help that he needed. He tried again and he is now left with disabilities. I wanted to make sure this didn’t happen to someone else.
The group came up with idea for Card Before You Leave, this is an appointment card that you should get if you go to A&E with mental health issues and are sent home without your full assessment. Your appointment for your full assessment should be for within 24 hours.
We know people were leaving A&E without anything and that having an appointment would help them, so they knew they were going to be seen and linked into services – not waiting for an appointment through the post that a lot of the time never comes.
We campaigned for this – we started in 2006 and got it implemented in 2010 – it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience to make change.
We know CBYL is helping people, 160 people a month get CBYL. That’s 160 people getting help who wouldn’t have got it before. But our new evidence shows a lot of people are still not receiving CBYL – it’s not being used properly.
But we don’t just gather evidence – we gather evidence and we set our own targets for change. As groups we shouldn’t have to do be doing this, but we do it because we are volunteers who want change and better treatment for others. So they don’t have to have the experiences that we have had.
We have set a target that in a year’s time 90% of people who should be getting CBYL do get it. We set it at 90% because this should be happening already, there’s no excuse for it not to be happening.
We have learnt about our rights. We have a right to better treatment, which we shouldn’t have to be fighting for.
But if we don’t measure things and hold government to account, who will?
Change can happen and we got change with CBYL. That was one group (with the help of PPR) – if we all come together we can make bigger and better change. We know best as carers, service users and families who have experienced failures in mental health services what changes can make services better. It’s time the government listened to us and act upon what we’re saying.