View Full Version : Mental Health assessment

11-20-08, 12:16 PM
Hey folks, I'm currently in the early stages of hopefully getting a diagnosis of ADD. Having been referred from my GP, I am due to have a mental health assessment next Thursday.

Can anyone tell me what to expect? Am I going to be grilled about my past? What strategies should I have to ensure I remember to say everything important?

11-26-08, 08:10 AM
Who's doing the assessment? Unless it's a neurological/developmental specialist with a history in ADHD then it's unlikely to satify you.

Usual routine is for them to take a history and ask details about how you think you are being affected by your problem.

Go armed with as much written history as you can muster; all facts you can remember in cronological order so you don't forget anything worth mentioning and anything from independant professionals eg school reports.

If it's NHS then you are liable to run into a wall of ignorance and come away not much wiser (aside from finding out that NHS=calamity).

It's all part of the journey so be stoical - I'm in the middle of getting diagnosed for the second time :rolleyes: since a stupid **** local consulting psy cast doubt on my private diagnosis and thus had my GP try to pull my meds. Hopefully coming on here will give you a better run than I got.

11-27-08, 09:07 AM
The best piece of advice I can give you is to remain patient and persistent.

Although the situation is getting better very slowly, it is still apparent that most psychiatrists are not yet trained in spotting ADHD in adults. Planetdave is right about the wall of ignorance in the NHS at the moment.

However, remember that the psychiatrists generally want to help you and they are not your enemy, so work with them and try not to get into the habit of thinking you are fighting them, even though it feels like that at times! They will tend to want to challenge the way you see things, but ask

A good line to use is, "I think I might have ADHD, but I would at least like the opportunity to rule it out if it isn't ADHD." In my experience, this line has got me a far with my Doctors.

If you are lucky, you may get a psychiatrist who is aware of ADHD, or even has some experience.

If not, just remember that you are in this for the long term. Keep patient and don't lose heart at the first hurdle, but keep your confidence up and try and follow good advice on managing ADHD traits in the meantime.

Hope this helps.

11-27-08, 09:11 AM
Well, I felt it was going reasonably well until I said I had a degree. And then it was like a door in his brain closed. Another door closed when I said I'd never been in trouble with the police, and another when I explained my parents divorced when I was young. Another door closed when I said I have a young child.

As soon as he heard these things, he ignored everything else I'd said, and assumed I was a mother with low self esteem that was struggling to look after a baby, and whose tricky childhood could be put down to going through a divorce. There was lots of "many other people have symptoms like yours, they are very normal". Indeed, they may be normal in isolation, when when you combine inattention, distractability, lack of focus, memory issues, impulsivity, mood swings, procrastination, static in your head, restlessness, impatience and general bloody mindedness then I think it's obvious that there's an issue. Or it's obvious to me anyway. I just wanted to shout at him - "live my life for a day!"

So anyway, he decided that I didn't have ADD, and didn't want to push the matter any further because he didn't want to stigmatise me(!).

Yes, I have a degree - I scraped a 3rd (and even then only just), and I got that by borrowing other peoples' notes and revising 10 minutes before exams. My dissertation was a shambles, and all thought through by my work partner.

He'd already stated he had very little experience with ADHD (and even exclaimed that I didn't seem very hyperactive in there with him, despite the fact I was fidgeting and jiggling like crazy - I think he expected me to do spontaneous cartwheels or something), and that key indications of the condition were difficulty with learning, and trouble with authority. I didn't explain to him about how it was sometimes difficult to diagnose in women (and adults) because they exhibit different symptoms (primarily inattentive rather than hyperactive) because I was on teh verge of tears.

I don't really know where to go from here - I don't want to spend hundreds of pounds on getting a private diagnosis if it's going to end up the same.

11-27-08, 09:36 AM
I'm so sorry things didn't go so well. Unfortunately, it's a classic example of the way people presenting with possible adult ADHD are getting treated by the NHS.

Take hope in the fact that I and many other people on this forum have experienced exactly the same dismissive treatment, but have gone on to get a diagnosis and treatment in the NHS.

You have two ways forward.

You could go for a private diagnosis. If you see an ADHD specialist, you will not get treated in the same way. They will not assume that ADHD people are incapable of getting a degree (a shockingly common thing for psychiatrists to assume), and will not be so quick to rule it out.
Persist with the NHS. Go back to your GP and tell him/her how you were treated. Raise the issue of the professional you saw saying they did not know much about ADHD. Point to the NICE guidelines that state ADHD must be assessed by an ADHD specialist. The person you saw, by their own admission, does not have ADHD experience, so should be seeking to refer you to someone who does before ruling it out so dismissively. Complain, but do it calmly. Contact Adult ADHD UK and one of us may be able to help you write a letter to your PCT. The behaviour of the professional you saw is unacceptable and you don't have to stand for it. Remember also, that you have the right to a second opinion, so ask for one.

Well done for having the courage to go through what you went through. Try to keep positive as you have still made a step forward by having this appointment. It serves to highlight the ignorance in the NHS, and provides us with more ammunition to get things changed.

11-28-08, 04:16 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of UK mental health.

Your experience is quite typical - the shutting down when you appear to have managed something that an ADHDer 'shouldn't' (in their esteemed :rolleyes: opinion). Loads of ADHDers have degrees or done things that don't match their strongly held, and erronious, beliefs.

This is just round one. When you fight for the next part (ADHDers don't 'fight' either :rolleyes:) you will probably get knocked back again. It will be painful and you'll feel isolated and ignored and hopeless. I'm betting most of us did.

Just keep at it. Persistance and knowledge are your weapons and you WILL get through even if it takes a long time and more energy than you think you have.

Keep your chin up and study yourself and the systems you have to contend with. It's worth it - so much so I'm doing it all over again.

edit:-going private usually works just fine. You go straight to see someone who knows ADHD when they see it and thus cut out many layers of NHS procrastination and ignorance. I recommend it (would do it myself if I wasn't skint) - just don't go back to your local NHS shrink after diagnosis coz they can spoil it all over again by doing what just happened to you.

11-29-08, 04:27 PM
Hi Naetha1,

I sent you PM check your inbox :)

12-26-08, 07:38 AM
Yep, can completely emphasise, pretty much the same rubbish that was given to me. Apparently having a mess of a life, is better than being 'stigmatized'- how are people meant to understand more about this condition if psychiatrists themselved, now a)nothing about the condition and b)stigmatized it themselved because of their own prejudiced erronenous beliefs?

I am pretty much in the same situation as you, but I don't have any ADD specialist I don't think near where my Uni is, I could come back to London, but my Uni Gp told me that was 'out of their NHS zone' despite the fact that technically my permanent home address is in London. :mad:

So what on earth are you meant to do if you can't afford a private assessment?:confused: