A Dundee student has branded NHS Tayside’s mental health services as “abusive” and “not fit for purpose” after sharing his experiences of being diagnosed with ADHD.
Matthew Simpson, 23, is currently in his final year studying law at Dundee University, and at the beginning of the year went to his GP surgery looking to be referred onto a psychiatrist as he believed he was suffering with undiagnosed ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
However he claims he was ridiculed and accused of looking to get an unfair advantage at university both at his appointment and in a letter to his doctor written by a locum psychiatrist.
In the letter it said: “There is no evidence from your referral of ADHD, and the fact he insists on a referral, presumably against your better judgement, might say something about his personality, but it does not suggest ADHD.
“If he has managed to get to the third year of a law degree, then presumably he does not have significant cognitive impairment, and is not, of course the duty of the local mental health services to help him get a 2:1 degree in law.
“The best advice is that he works hard.
“I do not want to offer him an appointment and a diagnosis simply as a safety net, just because he might not do as well as he expect in his exams.
“Presumably he has no medical training and is not an expert in psychiatry.”
Matthew has now spoken out about his experiences and said mental health services up and down the country need to be drastically changed if people are to be properly supported.
He said: “I went to the GP very much knowing what I was asking for and the GP didn’t necessarily deal well with someone coming in and knowing what they wanted to get out of the appointment.
“I was rejected and belittled by the doctor and people must know that is not an acceptable way to talk to someone.
“I have never met the doctor who wrote the letter and they made assumptions about my personality in an insidious fashion.
“ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition but a lot of health professionals still look at it like it’s a disorder, which is outdated and dangerous.
“The doctor essentially told me to bury my head and get on with it, but if I had a lump discovered the doctors would not be telling me to do that, it would be taken very seriously.”
Matthew went onto seek private treatment where he was ultimately diagnosed with ADHD and is now receiving treatment to help him.
However he wants to see the whole mental health system overhauled as he believes the lack of support and long waiting list are not actually helping those who need it.
Matthew added: “The conversation about mental health is making sure people can talk about their depression or their anxiety but it is all worthless if we don’t have a system that can support people.
“There are issues in Tayside and I understand mental health support is oversubscribed and the NHS has issues recruiting psychiatrists across the country, but they have to deal with that.
“People are being faced with an 18 month long waiting list and it is abusive because that is not a solution and demonstrates the service is not fit for purpose.
“I am still being refused treatment as the GP would not honour my private diagnosis so I am still paying for private prescriptions.
“But I can’t allow that to go on, I should be allowed the treatment I need.”
Dr Mike Winter, associate medical director for mental health and learning disabilities, said: “We have recently recruited and retained a number of regular locum consultants to cover vacant posts within the mental health and learning disability service.
“As part of NHS Tayside’s ongoing mental health and learning disability service redesign, we are working closely with staff within our inpatient and community services in Tayside to develop new workforce models.”
Meanwhile, Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership encouraged Matthew to raise an official complaint, which he has done already.