A team leader's perspective

Darren Plant, team leader

“Working in Lambeth Triage often means having to deal with people with very severe psychiatric problems- people the majority of the population know very little about.

When I was asked about making a documentary I thought it was an opportunity to show the public what really happens on a modern day psychiatric ward. But of course I had to consider the patients – would it be detrimental to their health? Will any patients even want to be on camera? How will people perceive this?

I was reassured very early by the professional and caring attitudes of the producers. How I felt about them was really crucial to me going ahead with it. If I hadn’t trusted them completely I could not have let them film patients. If these films were not made properly that could be a disaster for SLaM, for mental health and for the patients. As it turns out the film is excellent and a fair reflection of what goes on in triage and I am proud we can finally show this on national television.

It’s upsetting when you work in mental health and you still hear derogatory words banded about such as ‘nutter’ about real people with real problems. I had a good feeling early on with these producers that they also wanted to shift these sorts of stereotypes and help educate the general public.

We had a lot of meetings with different staff members at SLaM all the way through filming. One issue that came up was restraint. Part of our work does sometimes involve restraining a patient, it is not a pleasant thing to do but it is sometimes necessary when a patient is refusing all help and could potentially be of harm to themselves or to others. I am glad we were able to show this on film because people can see it in context, see how the staff professionally deal with it and how it is part of our responsibility – to make a judgement call on a patient who is severely unwell – it is part of the job.

Mental illness is still a taboo subject and I am really pleased we can go some way into helping dispel some of myths and show people the real picture.”





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