Report Released on Borderline Personality Disorder

Today the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland released its first ever report, looking at the care, treatment and support for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

BPD is a type of personality disorder with a long-term pattern of unstable relationships with other people, unstable sense of self and unstable emotions.

Commission staff spoke to over 70 people with the diagnosis in Scotland, and surveyed 119 GPs, 110 A&E staff, and 84 psychiatrists. Family members/carers and people providing therapies were also asked for their views.

Alison Thomson, Executive Director (Nursing) at the Mental Welfare Commission, said:

“We found that stigma is a reality in the lives of people with borderline personality disorder, and its effects can be dramatic. It affects confidence and self-esteem, and it was the most commonly reported issue to trigger a crisis.

“We found many challenges – services in some areas are not good enough. Addressing our recommendations for change will need a concerted effort by organisations across Scotland.

“But the report also shows what can be achieved when people with BPD do have access to effective therapy, support and understanding. I hope that this fact will help drive all parties to make these changes, so they can improve the outcome for people with this diagnosis.

Findings included:

  • People with BPD reported that they were often treated with less sympathy and understanding by professional staff than people with other mental health diagnoses.
  • People’s experience of being given the diagnosis was varied. While there were positive experiences, many spoke of feeling let down in this aspect of their care.
  • Psychological therapies were highly valued, but access to those therapies, and waiting times, varied across the country.
  • Many people with BPD reported a negative experience of using A&E services, and A&E staff shared their view that these departments were not well placed to meet their needs.
  • What people with BPD told the Commission helps them stay well, and what services and professional staff thought about this, often differed.

Families/carers said that at times the emotional impact of caring for individuals with BPD could be high, including feeling overwhelmed or powerless.

Penumbra featured on page 36 of the report, within some glowing comments on our Self-Harm Project.

“I got really great support from Penumbra’s self-harm project – the combination of the approach that the service takes, along with the staff attitudes, makes this such a good service – I owe them my life.”

Our Aberdeen based services are also mentioned on page 48 in reference to Distress Brief Intervention.

You can read more from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, and read the full report here. 

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