I’m a team manager for eight mental health officers, covering the whole of Renfrewshire. We help mainly adults with mental health difficulties, but also some young people as well.
Problems could be related to all manners of things. Someone may suffer from a brain injury, anorexia, substance misuse, dementia, psychosis, schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Huntington Disease.
We usually have around one hundred cases on the go at a time. And that’s a lot to juggle.
I’ve been in this line of work since the early 90s. Back then we had more time to help people, but those days are long gone. Honestly, we’ve got so many referrals coming through the door now. We’re already up 60%+ on referrals from last year.
It’s difficult for staff. We’re under so much pressure. The public sector is getting squeezed all the time which means the volume of work coming to services is almost becoming unmanageable. An avalanche of work that never stops. That’s what it feels like to us.
We do our best to listen, guide and support. But we aren’t magicians. We can’t just make things (problems or issues) go away.
You’ve got to be ready for both extremes. When speaking to someone with serious Mental Health problems you might just get a grunt from one person, then meet another whose brain is going at fifty times the normal speed and likewise their speech.
Sometimes a case can be a quagmire of complexity. It takes time to unravel things. Producing a guardianship report can take up to 35 hours. In the Mental Health Act for Tribunal Applications there are 20 page forms to fill in, with no short cuts.
Helping to make a difference to someone’s life is what drives us in this game. I’d like to turn the clock back to when I started, and be able to spend more time with people.
Mental Health Officer Service