Young woman critical of system that sends vulnerable people home

By Mary Dennehy

A YOUNG woman who had to wait six weeks for psychiatric assessment after attempting to take her own life has criticised a healthcare system in which vulnerable people are sent home from A&E or their GP despite expressing severe anxiety or suicidal thoughts.

Nearly two months ago, 21-year-old Jessy Guildea attempted to take her own life when she climbed onto a bridge on the M50 at 10.30 in the morning.

Jessy Guildea 3 resized 

The week before Jessy attempted to take her own life, she had attended Tallaght Hospital’s A&E on three different occasions and, despite getting a bed in a psychiatric unit on her third visit, was sent home, according to Jessy, with no “long-term support or diagnosis”.

Jessy, who lives in Firhouse, told The Echo: “I have always been a nervous person, but have suffered from severe anxiety and feelings of depression for the past year-and-a-half.

“I started isolating myself and not leaving the house and over time I started to develop suicidal thoughts.

“I never planned to hurt myself but one morning in March I was walking home from a friend’s house at around 10.30am and I felt the lowest I’ve ever felt.

“I didn’t plan to do it, it was a split-second decision and I’m so grateful now that a taxi driver stopped and talked me down.”

According to Jessy, the taxi driver rang Tallaght Garda Station who attended the scene and brought the young Firhouse resident to the local station, where she was met by a GP who referred her for a psychiatric assessment to a community-based health centre.

Jessy said: “I had to wait six weeks before I could go and have my assessment, which I had last week, and it took only six minutes. How can you evaluate someone in six minutes?

“I’m back at home now with no programme of support, no diagnosis and no help in understanding why I feel the way I do.

“I don’t know what I need to start feeling better. That’s why I went looking for help – but after everything I’m still in the same place.

“The healthcare system needs to change in relation to mental health.

“They keep telling young people to speak out and ask for help but there is not much support from the health service when people do reach out, all of the support provided comes from the voluntary sector. Over the past few weeks I have received great support from Pieta House.”

She added: “I just keep thinking about people who are sent home and don’t have family or friends around to keep an eye on them.

“It’s so sad and it’s because of these people that I decided to speak out, something needs to change.”

When contacted by The Echo, Tallaght Hospital said that they do not comment on individual cases, however, according to a spokesman: “Upon presentation to our Emergency Department a patient is triaged, meaning their medical status is assessed in order to determine the urgency in which they need to be seen by an Emergency Department Clinician.

“With regard to a patient presenting with expressed anxiety or suicidal thoughts, they are prioritised to be seen by an Emergency Department Clinician who will determine if an onward referral to a psychiatrist is required. 
“If the referral is deemed to be urgent the patient will be seen within the Emergency Department.

“In our recently refurbished Emergency Department there are now two dedicated psychiatry assessment rooms.”

A number of questions were put to the HSE, including a query on the waiting times for psychiatric assessment, but a reply was not received in time for print.

The HSE did, however, tell The Echo that it has a National Clinical Care Programme for the Assessment and Management of Patients Presenting to Emergency Departments following self-harm.

Any young person who would like to speak with someone can call the TeenLine helpline on 1800 833 634 or text teen to 50015, Pieta House on 6010000 or the Samaritans on 116123.

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