Friday, 15 February 2019

DEAR SERVICES, FIVE THINGS YOUR SERVICE USERS NEED TO KNOW



1.       Exactly what their care plan entails

Whether one organization is the service users entire support system or they’re part of a wider network, a lot of trust and faith go into their relationship. Not knowing what to expect from the service and from their allocated worker can be confusing and misleading, making things open for misinterpretation and assumption. Formulating a care plan is one of the most important steps for a service user to begin to trust in a service; it confirms that they’re considering your needs and requirements and are tailoring your care to fit with these. Allowing a service user, the opportunity to have some input into this process is reassuring and rewarding. 


2.       That there’s no judgement

A lot of staff will think that this is a given and that service users know that this is the case; that services aren’t judgmental but it’s that assumption that needs frequent validation. With the stigma of mental health being so rife, service users are vulnerable to feeling judged, belittled, and patronized by others and so it’s essential that it is reiterated. Confidence that the service user will be treat with respect and consideration encourages openness and honesty with their worker.



3.       Recovery doesn’t happen overnight

It’s so important to validate a service user’s thoughts and feelings whilst maintaining a balance between that and becoming patronizing or condescending by repeatedly telling someone you ‘know’ how they feel but it’s also essential that you be realistic. Telling a service user, they’ll ‘feel better soon’ isn’t just about making false guarantees but it also leaves a service user feeling hopeless if they then don’t feel better later. Starting to work with a new organization, often brings new hope to a service user who might be feeling like no one has been able to help them so far and with that hope comes the assumed promise of recovery. Service users will believe that if these new staff can help then maybe they’ll get better so it’s important that – at the first possible opportunity – you prepare them for the hard work and effort that recovery will inevitably take.



4.       The opportunities afforded to them within the organization

A lot of service users have some free time and (where they are not in school) are looking to add something more productive to their life so learning about the opportunities the organization has for them can be very therapeutic. It’s also a rewarding feeling for the service user to feel that they’re giving back to an organization that has helped them in so many ways.



5.       Not to lose hope

One of the most important lessons in mental health is not to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and when you’re in that tunnel, it can be very hard to see your hand in front of your face let alone any sign of light! As service users make progress in their mental health recovery it can be very easy to get caught up in the positivity and find feet removed from ground so when there’s any sort of negative event it can really knock a person back to the ground. In this instance, it’s important to remind a service user of how far they’ve come and encourage them to get back up, dust themselves off, and continue.