Finding a way back

| Care and Support

The two-year journey that has taken one Metropolitan customer from secure psychiatric hospital to a flat of his own

mental health

Kai (not his real name) had been imprisoned for arson and criminal damage, before he was detained under the Mental Health Act.

The young man with paranoid schizophrenia had set light to someone’s front door and to a car, causing people to fear for their safety.

He’d had psychotic episodes before – exacerbated by alcohol and substance abuse – when delusions, hallucinations and voices in his head drove him to attempt or threaten violence or suicide. He’d been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since arriving in the UK as a young person and was well known to community support services.

As a boy in Poland, Kai was physically abused by stepfathers, whose abuse of his mother he witnessed at close quarters. The family was always on the move – a result of his mother’s volatile relationships and money problems – which made it hard for Kai to make friends.

Two years ago, when he was conditionally released from the secure hospital, he was referred to Metropolitan’s Essex mental health intensive enablement service.

At first, the 28 year-old was resistant to support but, as time went on, he started to engage with the team. They explored strategies to help him manage his emotions, identify triggers and diffuse his anger. Sometimes, he shouted and swore at staff and other customers, but he was always sorry afterwards and willing to discuss the causes of his outbursts.

Visits with his family – often the targets of his violent threats – were set up and, increasingly, passed off without incident.

At the same time, he was helped to develop daily living skills. He learnt how to budget, plan meals, cook and hold down a tenancy. And he took two mainstream college courses, gaining good grades. He also did some supported voluntary work for a few hours a week, before taking on a supported, paid, part-time job.

During this period, he received word from the Home Office that he was to be deported to Poland due to the criminal offences he had committed when mentally unwell. Metropolitan’s Migration Foundation and mental health experts helped him lodge an appeal, which is currently under review.

Two years after his arrival, Kai’s mental, emotional and physical health have improved considerably. In February, armed with coping strategies, practical skills and ready access to support services, he left the Metropolitan service to take up a council tenancy.

“I really liked this place,” says Kai of the temporary home that showed him the way back to independent living. “I met really supportive and helpful staff. The place is nice and quiet. It helped me to think more about myself and find positive things in ordinary, day-to-day life.”