Heartbreaking tale highlighted the plight of so many sufferers

MY heart went out to John Bradshaw, who took his own life, and his family when I read his story in The Hunts Post. As an ex-teacher, whose work caused 10 years of using mental health services, I have encountered many people who have tragically taken thei

MY heart went out to John Bradshaw, who took his own life, and his family when I read his story in The Hunts Post.

As an ex-teacher, whose work caused 10 years of using mental health services, I have encountered many people who have tragically taken their lives, some of them close friends.

Many of the issues in the article about John and his family come up over and over again for those using psychiatric services.

Medication may help, but often the side-effects outweigh the benefits. I, too, took Respiradone, which made me so anxious and restless I could not be still and was very anxious about going out. These effects stopped immediately I came off the drug. Weight gain is another common side-effect.

All of these things and the vast array of other debilitating side-effects impinge hugely on a service user's ability to enjoy life and to be sociable, both of which are so vital if you suffer from mental health issues. I also recently discovered that I have been on 25 per cent more of the medication I take than is advised for my condition.

As a relatively small woman this seems particularly undesirable, especially as the drug is bad for the liver.

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Additionally, my medication makes me tired so, even though I have been much better for a while, I would find it virtually impossible to hold down even a part-time job.

I hope Incapacity Benefit will take this into account when they come knocking on my door to get me off benefits.

These are the kinds of issues that make regaining a life after breakdown so difficult. People can then suffer from feelings of being excluded from society, which can then feed back into the loop, causing more illness.

It was said that John was required to attend WorkBridge, and again his story echoes things that have been said to me many times.

Suddenly you are working, but not for money like you used to but for benefits, or 'unearned income' as it is called on Housing Benefit form.

Sadly, none of this does people's self-esteem any good at all.

I know the Richmond Fellowship, which runs WorkBridge, to be a good organisation but, unfortunately, the way the Government benefit system requires these work schemes to run does nothing for anyone's self-esteem.

There are so many issues which contribute to an individual's psychiatric care becoming part of the problem and not the solution.

After 10 years I could definitely write a book. People die and coroners' verdicts and NHS inquiries come and go. Families are devastated.

Particularly with the NHS, I would like to know who is part of the inquiry.

In the Mersey NHS Care Trust, those inquiries include mental health service user representatives to ensure fair play. As this is not common practice, I will be endeavouring to find out who has been involved in this process.

At times like these, listening to the family is so important, preferably before such a terrible tragedy has occurred.

I hope passionately that their story will help to prevent other such heartbreaks. They have my deepest sympathy.

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