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Mental Health Stigma Within Emergency Services And Hospitals

When being treated by the emergency services or in the hospital for self-harm, suicidal ideation or actions or other mental illness symptoms, it’s a common experience to be looked down on, talked to with disdain and treated as though you are wasting resources and time.

We deserve the same respect as anyone else

It’s far too common among the mental health community to not be taken seriously by professionals which is highly detrimental. We deserve the same respect, compassion and treatment as anyone who uses emergency services for any physical issue. Our illnesses are just as important as any other problem and should be prioritized as such.

Poor treatment can have devastating results

This poor treatment of people with mental illness can lead to people feeling they need to avoid going to the hospital when they need help. It can result in people being afraid to call for help when they are at their absolute lowest point because they are frightened that the help they are trying to ask for won’t be given, and instead they will be made to feel ashamed or treated as less than. This is not acceptable; nobody should feel as though they can’t reach out for help; no one should feel afraid of the treatment they will get if they are in need of emergency services.

No one should ever feel that asking for help from the professionals who are supposed to provide it, will actually be a worse experience than trying to cope on their own. No one should lose their life because they were frightened to ask for help, or because they did ask for help and it was not given to them.

Being disregarded is simply not acceptable

When you are in mental health crisis it is absolutely terrifying to begin with to be in a hospital situation, and to then have a bad experience can be truly horrific. Unfortunately, I have plenty of experience with this myself. When having self-harmed I have been treated with complete disgust and told that I just need to ‘stop doing that’. When having experienced suicidal feelings and asked for help, after hours of waiting around and poor treatment at the hospital, I have been sent home without help to deal with it myself.

After having attempted suicide, I have been asked ‘why I would do something so silly’ among other ridiculous questions, and once recovered physically have been discharged without help or any follow up; this has happened multiple times. This is absolutely disgusting treatment: if someone was dying from a physical illness, they would not be sent home and left to deal with it themselves: I cannot say enough that we deserve to be taken just as seriously as people with physical illness and treated with the same respect.

Inadequate treatment cannot be ignored

I want to state here that I’m not saying all medical professionals are like this, and I have had some kind and caring nurses and paramedics who have been very compassionate and have treated me in the best way they could. I am grateful for the health services we have in the UK, I truly am and I don’t take that for granted, but that doesn’t mean that I can ignore poor treatment. There are many times that without help from my support system, I wouldn’t have been here writing this today, because professionals have failed me terribly, and I know I’m not alone in my experiences. It can’t go on.

Things need to change

Professionals need to be educated in how to treat those of us who come into their hospitals with mental health issues, they need to understand our point of view so that they can see that we are just like any other patient. Awareness has to be raised so that things can be improved.

I want to say at the end of this post that I am truly sorry for any of you reading this that have had bad experiences in hospitals or with emergency services when you have been in crisis; I know how truly horrifying it can be and how damaging and I’m so deeply sorry you’ve been through it too.

Mental Health Stigma Within Emergency Services And Hospitals

Ann-Marie D'Arcy-Sharpe

I am 32 years old. I live in Glasgow, Scotland UK with my husband and lots of lovely pets. I battle with Bipolar Disorder, fibromyalgia and arthritis. You can find my YouTube Channel here and you can also follow me on Twitter, here.

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APA Reference
D'Arcy-Sharpe, A. (2019). Mental Health Stigma Within Emergency Services And Hospitals. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Feb 2019
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