I have been on the ward plenty of times so I know exactly how state mental wards work. But I was once in when a guy with suicidal ideation due to early onset dementia came in. It was his first time on a state hospital ward.
He saw a doctor first in the ER then spoke to a consultant a few hours later. He then came into the bed bay where me and two other guys were staying. The guy was a little anxious but I quickly came to the conclusion that he was a real nice guy. I say he had dementia but this was at a very early stage and he was coherent and talkative.
Very soon he became shocked at how little therapy goes on in the ward where we were. Maybe one relaxation class a week (lead by a student nurse) and maybe one group for 30mins a week (lead by the auxiliary nurses).
You saw a doc for maybe 20mins a week and that was about your lot. The rest was sitting around or “doing your time”.
This old guy couldn’t believe how little activities there were. He was even more shocked at how little therapies (pharmaceutical or psychological) there was. The time seeing a doctor was tiny and the nurses rarely asked how you were.
In short this ward was awful to the extent that I was embarrassed at how little help was given to this guy. All the staff were jobsworths and spoke openly about patients when they weren’t in the room.
Now the area I live in has extremely high levels of deprivation, some of the worst in the country. This demographic was represented accordingly in the patients on the ward. They were poor and vulnerable. They didn’t have a voice and because most didn’t vote politicians didn’t really take much of an interest in the mentally ill populations in the area (well so it appeared to me. I may be wrong)
Care on that ward was shocking to this old guy and rightly so in my opinion. If mental health services got the money and attention that say cardiovascular medicine got things would be dramatically different. But it’s not and that disappoints me.