How the new rehabilitation service helped one young man find hope

Tom has had a torrid 12 months – dropping out of school, turning to drugs for solace, falling out with his family, lurching between violent episodes and complete withdrawal, and ending up in a secure mental health unit far from home. Finally he was moved to Bristol’s new Community Rehabilitation Service. (We have changed names to protect identities)

When Tom started taking drugs with his friends, refused to do his school work and became increasingly angry and violent at home, his mum Kate was at her wits’ end.

A shy boy Tom did well at school and always had a best friend. However things changed in his late teens when his family became concerned about his behaviour.

Violent episodes

He withdrew from the family and grew very angry – his anger spilling over into violent episodes. He then fell into periods of self-hatred and depression when all he wanted to do was end his life. Tom blamed his parents for it all, particularly his mum.

Hospital admission

Despite asking for help from the family doctor and other professionals, it wasn’t until things got really bad and the police were called that anything was done. The police advised Tom go into hospital for an assessment and while there he was seen by the children and young people’s mental health service, CAMHS, who said Tom was suffering with psychosis and admitted him to hospital.

New support and consistency

However even though Tom was now in the system, he was treated in secure units far away from the family – which he hated. After eight months, he was transferred to Callington Road Hospital in Bristol where he was put on different and more successful medication. And the staff and doctors worked with the family to give him consistent support and advice. Kate explains: “Decisions were made and stuck to – we were all saying the same thing. This made such a difference. Both he and we knew what was happening, why and when.”

Life at Wellbridge

Once Tom was discharged from the acute ward, he become one of the first clients of Bristol’s new Community Rehabilitation Service. Within days of joining the small community at Wellbridge House, the accommodation part of the service, it was clear Tom, who had been extremely shy and disengaged while on the hospital wards, was ready to join in. “The staff here remind you about your medication, they don’t tell you to take it. It is freer, and we can do our own thing.”

Talking live on the radio

Tom was then invited by one of the staff to join the Second Step Radio Group talking about mental health services in Bristol live on community radio station Ujima Radio. Tom jumped at the chance. “I really enjoyed going into the studio and want to continue to be part of the group which put on the programme. Kate said she was in tears when she heard the broadcast. “It was amazing what he did, talking live on air like that. I was so proud.”

The new Community Rehabilitation Service has its official launch on Thursday 4 June at The Station in central Bristol. Guests will meet commissioners, staff and people using the service and discuss the hopes we have for mental health rehabilitation in Bristol

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