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Arjuna Nagendran


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What experiences have made you more comfortable with mental health disorders?

What things make you fearful of mental health disorders? And what experiences have made you more comfortable with it?

In the quest to dispell stigma, how can we help our society grow out of its fear?


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  • Oct 28 2012: About two years ago a very attractive 25year old woman walked into my surgery and stated "I am depressed, I am suicidal and I want something to sleep". I replied " I do not know anything about you I feel it would be appropiate to refer you straight away to the local hospital to be assessed by a on duty psychiatric registrar, " This was immediately refused, as was an offer to contact the Crisis team. I stated I was not prepared to prescribe her sleeping tablets and she would have to decide my offer of a referral to the hospital as I could not see any other way of dealing with her situation. She said "ok" and stood up and walked out. I called the Crisis team with her details. They contacted me a week latter stating she refused their assistance. I received a complaint, from her that I was not caring, this a lesson for me to remember.
    • Oct 31 2012: Dear Harry,

      It sounds to me that you were being responsible in not giving the sleeping pills. It is unfortunate that the way that medical appointments are set up, there is little time to get into a long and intricate conversation and you may have felt that a referral to appropriate support was most important (and it probably was.) She may have taken your default to referral as "cold" ... perhaps you responded with a serious tone (which is appropriate considering that she stated that she felt suicidal.) Perhaps you did not have ability to express your empathy with warmth and caring as your mind raced to decide what was the best course of action to help her.

      It sounds as if you were indeed doing the most responsible thing in trying to get her professional help.

      I would not want to be in your situation. I hope that she at least expressed (in her letter) some specifics about what she had hoped to receive from this interaction (besides acquiring sleeping pills.) Your refusal to give her those pills may have saved her life and so, that is no small thing. If someone comes in again with similar circumstance ( god forbid) you may first respond with something like " I am so sorry to hear that you are suffering" and then proceed to the best of your ability to get he/ him appropriate help.

      Try to not beat yourself up ... I think you did the best you could and as I said, may have helped her more than you realize.
      Best to you,

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