Lydiate man turns to Labour MP to call for improved mental healt

Tom Niblock and Bill Esterson

A Lydiate man has turned to Labour MP Bill Esterson to call for improved care for mental health patients.

Tom Niblock, 65, has suffered from depression for 30 years.

He says the help he received for the bulk of the time was inadequate.

Tom said: "Because I live on my own, and because I was offered no help, I suffered in silence with hardly any human contact. I had a breakdown at the end of the three months and have suffered ever since, until I met my psychologist.

"When I first became depressed my then-GP prescribed medication for me, and told me that it was all a psychiatrist would do. He didn’t suggest a psychologist or counsellor. My problems were physical and emotional and therefore became mental.

"The medication certainly didn’t help, it simply messed my head up. This was my introduction to psychiatric drugs.

"I became suicidal, but suffered in silence for about four years. When I eventually did see a psychiatrist he simply prescribed  medication for my anxiety. This turned my arms and legs into jelly, but didn’t help me psychologically."

Tom's condition worsened and he was force-fed a cocktail of drugs.

Tom said: "The drugs made it so that I could never relax, unless I was actually asleep. As before, with the other drugs, it didn’t help me psychologically – it only made me worse.

"Psychiatric drugs made me angry, the very mention of them sends a shiver down my spine, that’s how much I hate them.

"I have been hospitalised, on and off, for the last 25 years, always being force-fed drugs, which I’ve always hated. They have only ever made my problems worse and not better.

"I had a spell of eight years out of hospital, while I was working as a photographer professionally. This job fully occupied my mind and was good therapy for me, although I was still on a dosage of drugs.

"My problem persisted, and because of the stigma of a mental illness I wouldn’t apply for any full time jobs and I was struggling financially."

Tom says he also suffered physically because of the drugs.

He said: "An effect of the medication was to close my throat over so that I could hardly breathe and led to a slurring of my speech – such nice drugs.

"Fortunately about 18 months ago I met a psychiatrist who introduced me to my now-psychologist. He has given me cognitive behavioural therapy which has helped me a lot.

"He has given me the time and consideration that no-one else has ever given me in my whole life, and I’m 65 years old. His sessions often last for two hours, he isn’t a clock-watcher, which has made a big difference to me.

"If only I had met someone like him 30 years ago, then maybe my 30 year nightmare wouldn’t have happened. Even now, my psychiatrist has insisted that I stay on drugs, even though I hate them. I have made giant strides physically and emotionally and therefore mentally in the last 18 months because of my psychologist, long may he reign.

"More should be done to help people with mental health issues. The government needs to be putting more money and time into this sector of the NHS, instead of cutting it.

"I had 25 years of my life wasted because of this. I don't want others to have to go through what I went through."

After speaking to Tom, Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has contacted the Department of Health calling for better provision for mental health sufferers.

Bill said: "Sadly, Tom's experience isn't unique, but it is wrong that people like Tom who are in need of psychological help are not getting it.

"I will be putting Tom's story to the Department of Health to call for some major improvements to how mental health issues are tackled.

"While each case is different, the blanket approach of simply issuing medication without follow-up treatment is simply not effective for lots of people.

"We need to do more for these people.

"But  while this government is slashing funding to all areas of the NHS, the provision for mental health care will be reduced.

"We all need to oppose this and fight to ensure that the experiences of Tom and others like him are learned from and the service is improved so that other people don't have to suffer for so long again."

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