Why are those with personality disorders STILL discriminated against in services?

In my opinion, personality disorders are just as prominent and valid as any other mental illness or disorder. So why are those with personality disorders still being discriminated against in the mental health services? We are seen as stubborn, reluctant to comply with treatment and at risk of attachments to peers/staff members and apparently this is reason enough to refuse some inpatient treatment for those with personality disorders. It has become normalised for those with PD to be treated unfairly, being seen as a group of people rather than an individual. There is a significant lack of people-centred care and the intensity of unfair treatment that is being delivered towards those with PD is barbaric, and ultimately making our symptoms worse.

In a survey of 92 people, all suffering from personality disorders, 85% said they felt they had been discriminated against by mental health services. This is a ridiculous number which needs urgently reducing. Even consultant psychiatrists are saying absolutely atrocious things to their patients who suffer from PD. One example I was given by a patient with EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder) was that her psychiatrist said to her “It (PD) is a women’s hysterical illness. I’m sick of it. I need to pay attention to those who are actually ill and I can sort out”. This is just one example of discriminating, invalidating comments made by mental health professionals to those with PD.

Recently I was made aware of a patient who made a very significant suicide attempt. Despite the risk to self, she was refused an inpatient admission as she was informed services rarely admit those with personality disorders due to their tendency to latch on to staff members, crave attention and consequently have a spike in self-harming behaviours to gain this attention. Whilst untrue, this is a very dangerous way of thinking of personality disorders and could cost lives. Precious, innocent lives.

Whilst this blog post focuses on the discrimination by mental health services, it is no secret that other services such as A&E and even employment services are discriminating against those with PD. One individual told me she was once left 2 hours with a bleeding wound that was self-inflicted before being told they wouldn’t stitch it because of her PD diagnosis. Again, this could have killed her and not just because of the wound. These unjust assumptions against those with personality disorders are having detrimental effects. Low self-esteem, the thought of having to ‘try harder’ to receive treatment and ‘prove’ that they are unwell enough for care. It is not right; it never has been and never will be.

In my personal experience, even staff in personality disorder units have a common misconception that those with PD are all attention seekers. They lack compassion for those who are self-harming and are only really interested with those who are doing well. It’s very difficult to live in such an environment as you are scared to harm yourself because you know that you’ll be ‘told off’ by staff. I once overheard staff talking about another patients self-harming and referred to it as ‘silly, manipulative behaviour’. We are in the 21st century, and these are still the thoughts of those who are supposed to be professionals helping vulnerable, unwell people. People being the objective word. These opinions are so out-dated, you may as well bring back mechanic restraint and ‘lunatic asylums’. That is just how ancient and unjust these are. We ARE people. We still feel things, if not more than others. We are easily led to feel unliked. We are sensitive, but that doesn’t mean we exaggerate and make something out of nothing. These assumptions against those with PD really need to stop. They are becoming harmful.

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