News & views Members' blogs Paul's story Thank you for letting me tell my story around my experience of mental health services. When I was 16 I left school with no qualifications and felt as if I had let my family down. I wouldn’t leave the house and got really paranoid and it was really scary. When I was 19 I started to hear voices telling me to harm myself and others. I was admitted in to a psychiatric unit and was given medication. I recovered after three months and was discharged in to the community and there were no risk assessments completed as it was years ago and they didn’t really do them then. After I was discharged I stopped taking my medication and became unwell again. I wouldn’t come out of the house and became really depressed and avoided people if they found out I had been in a ‘mental hospital’, and no one understood me. Even my family and friends who I would go to the pub with started avoiding me and were being really mean and calling me ‘mad Frazer’ and wouldn’t hang out with me. Some years later I committed a serious offence and was admitted to top security Rampton Hospital with the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenic. It was very scary at first and I didn’t know what to expect. There was a really tough regime daily and it was expected that patients went to work, education courses and took part in cookery and cleaning. Everyone had a busy daily routine to help and support them to recover. I did really well and after three years I was transferred to low security High Royds Hospital, Leeds. I continued with having a busy daily routine and did really well. I passed my English (C) and Maths (C) in GCSEs. I was on restricted Home Office section and I has a tribunal and was absolutely discharged. I still has a lot of support in the community and saw a social worker, C.P.N, OT and Housing Worker. I moved to a Trust Re-Hab hostel in the community and had a blip when I first moved because it was strange. I wasn’t used to being allowed to come and go as I pleased with little or no restrictions. I went to college to do a printing NVQ Level 3 course. When I passed after two years I applied for jobs as a printer but didn’t hear anything back form anyone – I think because of my mental health diagnosis and history. So I was really determined and set up a small social enterprise twelve years ago with the help of Leeds City Council called ‘Design and Print United’ which continues to support people with mental health issues, learning disabilities and people who struggle to work. I have been living in the community for twelve years now; I am stable also on my medication. I work entirely voluntary and attend a lot of service user involvement meetings in Leeds and try to give back to people who may have been going through what I went through. I have been through the entire mental health system and help others achieve as a role model so they can learn about my experiences as a whole.