How to obtain psychiatric hospital re... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

2,950 members2,085 posts

How to obtain psychiatric hospital records?

guinea1 profile image

Does anyone know how to go about getting their medical records from a psychiatric hospital, this was 26yrs ago, would they still be somewhere, I am currently waiting fo talking therapy for what happened in the hospital I was put/contained in, when I suffered PPP with my first child, I would obviously seek support from my doctor to whether this would be beneficial for me as the psychiatrist now after assessments have classed it as abuse... obviously have a tough time ahead... I always felt it was wrong but never thought anyone would believe me and locked everything away, I was also told it would come back at menopause.... so things built up til I broke a few years back, with his help gradually trusted him to start to tell my story and how afraid I was that it was happening again, he helped me through my fear of mental health professionals, the fear of being locked away again, this time no baby to protect me in this time. it was like I was reliving the experience I went on to be diagnosed with PTSD because of this treatment, I just want to know if it is possible to get hold of the records even if my doctor just holds them for me.

14 Replies
Ellie_at_APP profile image

Hi guinea1

Thanks for your post, it is so hard dealing with the trauma from treatment.

You are entitled to request to see your medical records, if you want to see them. There's some information on Mind's website about how to access them:

And also on Rethink's web page

There's been a couple of threads on here about the topic too, which you might find interesting and helpful to read? I know quite a few people who have requested and read their records, and found it helpful, also others (including myself) who have chosen not too. I imagine it's good you're thinking carefully about whether it would be helpful for you to do or not. Having a place to talk about it with someone might be helpful too, like when you access therapy for example.

Here are links to the previous posts about viewing medical records:

I really hope this is helpful, and I'm sure others can share their experiences of what it was like to read their medical records.

Take care,


guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Ellie_at_APP

Thanks Ellie That is very helpful I will look at those links, I think I may have seen the links, I have thought about wanting to see what they have written and to try to understand what happened, it was here where I have read others asking... I definitely would not read it on my own without the support of a professional as even just hearing the name of the psychiatrist sent me in a trigger as hadn't remembered or had blocked it out and just had him as the bad doctor.. its something I wont take lightly, but I just feel i need as some point to face , to actually be able to move on from all of this.. good thing I have had a letter today confirming a wait of about 18 weeks now for the assessment to go onto psychological therapy, so this will hopefully be a beginning to an end to my story and finally will be able to put all of it behind me.

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPAdministrator in reply to guinea1

HI guinea1, that sounds really wise to go through the notes while you're with a professional, maybe your therapy which sounds it may come quite soon , I'm glad you have some idea of how long you need to wait for it.

I know you have suffered a lot of trauma from what you've been through, I can imagine reading your notes in a safe way may help you to understand what happened.

Take care, and I hope you'll feel more and more healing from everything that has happened,

Ellie X

Pikorua profile image

Hello Guinea1,

we are all so different in the way how we cope, survive or chose our therapeutic path of recovery. It is a personal choice and I completely empathise with any kind of decission making; whether to read or not to read a medical file.

My partner and I went to hell and back and I believe I explained on numerous occasions on this forum about our ordeal, when I was in a psychiatric mixed gender hospital. Yes, we both had PTS after ongoing traumatic experiences in 2010 and throughout recovery for many years.

The contradiction of pragmatism and mood swings, when BP1 was undiagnosed, including the loss of two very close family members caused immense struggles, especially lack of sleep for nearly 8 years. That subsequently resulted in being quite poorly in a sort of pendulum rhythm.

Yes, I accessed my medical file in 2018. I always have been very analytical and very curious. In addition I worked hard in establishing my own toolkit and I honestly can say it is not about achieving survival mode, but finally being able to have life quality.

I guess the answers to so many questions was another key in opening many of those closed doors (my memory system of one year was wiped out), and to understand why Insomnia ruled my nights, the re-occurrence of flash backs and continuous fear and anxiety issues or panic attacks and so much more...including difficulties with sensory processing.

I read the document on my own, - sometimes I was detached, sometimes pretty overwhelmed and/or cheer disbelief in the way how I was treated as a mum with PPP in 2010 - the year when APP was brought to life!

There would be enough evidence to raise a case for negligence and abuse. I am still in pain with both shoulders, because of the way how I was constraint & this is only one aspect of many scenarios of victimisation. The emotional scars will stay with me for life as I was put in isolation for the majority of my stay.

Anyway, this is my life and my choices. I wanted to read through those "cruel pages", - I have had no expectations, I just wanted some of the truth. The truth often has been altered by the members of staff (perception of truth!), who wrote the report, because I could read between the lines and establish those once who really cared and the once who treated me like a number and not better than a locked away animal!

Please, please make sure that you have somebody to talk to when your past enters your momentum and comes to light once you've read the MF. If it is a huge file like mine, it is worse while to split reading sessions.

- Fortunately I have had the support of APP and individual members to talk about my experience.

Take good care of yourself, for some the healing process is ongoing and it is vital to have coping mechanisms in place (Yoga, Reiki, Meditation, Nature, Painting etc.)


guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Pikorua

Thank you for your reply, I think it is know what happened or the way it was recorded... the lack of care or communication, which made things so terrifying to be in this kind of environment for the first time ever. Really a containment, with no benefit and I just got worse over the month I was there... though they could not see this for themselves or never admitted it to me or my husband. Anyway have tracked down the hospital trust that should have them, just got to fill in the form.. not sure what files I would have to ask for but I do want the consent form that my husband signed as i refuse and told him to... but i wonder if he read it as had he known they wouldn't let me out again I think he would have said something.. but obviously back then PPP was unknown, and MBU very few... plus you didn't have rights as such or I didn't know I had them... so accepted what was happening without question or a fight ... I think I blamed myself for years not protesting much and in that state of fear thinking that if I fought things would have gotten much worse... my GP agrees that that would have been the case, but as least I would have know I had done something to stop them.... My GP is going to support though this... hopefully will get them emailed to him so he can look though them first and then they will be ready and waiting for me when I am ready.... I am waiting on talking therapy to start around June this year so hopefully they will help me with some skills to help. My doctor wants me to think and write down what I wish to gain from reading them, I know it I hope to gain some kind of closure to that part of my PPP and try to understand why it created so much fear and trauma leading to the PTSD I have now.. I know I had already suffered trauma from treatment during the birth, have felt with that, but the psychiatric hospital still has a hold on me.

Also what do I need to ask for just give them the dates of my treatment or would there be certain things I need to mention?

Thank you


Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer in reply to guinea1

Dearest guinea1,

I am so sorry for your suffering and the ongoing pain. I am pleased you can work together with your GP in a therapeutic sense.

I just had to fill in the form, which was just requesting general details. You have to be precise about the dates as I just asked for the medical file from the time I was sectioned.

Wishing you good luck and hope it allows you to find inner peace eventually.

Sending you love and kindness,

good night.

So Monday is the day I am going to look at my mental health records with my wonderful GP... feeling scared, but brave , not sure how I will react to what is written in those records, but know I have the support from my GP being with me.Hopefully this will bring some sort of understanding and closer to what happened in the psychiatric hospital and what was going on in the professionals minds to why they kept me there for the 4 weeks I had to endure until family intervened to get me home as they could see the care was poor and was actually making me worse.

I will let you know how things go and to whether this helps or not... it is the route cause of this PTSD I suffer now so must help in some way..

Thank you to all your support and helping me to take on this huge obstacle that has been with me for such a long time without even knowing how badly that time had effected me.

Take care x

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer in reply to guinea1

Hi guinea1,

Best of luck on Monday, will be thinking of you

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPAdministrator in reply to guinea1

Hi guinea1,

That is such a massive step for you, and really brave of you to have a look through your mental health records with your GP. It's something I have never done, but I know it has really helped others. It's really good that your GP will be there to go through them with you and you'll be held in that way - your GP sounds amazing!

I really hope it goes OK. Perhaps you could plan something relaxing to do afterwards, that you know you enjoy and helps you to switch off? I imagine it will be quite intense.

Thinking of you, and do let us know how it goes, if that feels right to write on here.

Ellie X

guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Ellie_at_APP

Thanks Ellie, My Dr is amazing and has been with me throughout since the day I told him of my ordeal or it literally fell out of me so to speak, he has been my rock really as had this inbuilt fear of anything to do with my mental health... he said he felt angry , but mostly addened that I had been through this and most of all believed in me and that reassured me I had good reasons to feel like I was and understood my fear and mistrust of mental health professionals... it's been a long journey, I know I still have a way to go yet, but having my doctor with me , I am confident he will keep me safe.. I will take one of my Guinea pigs with me (I'm allowed) for extra support. Have asked my husband to come home early as possible so will have support .

I will definitely write how it goes when I feel ready xx

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPAdministrator in reply to guinea1

Hi guinea1

I hope it went ok yesterday. It’s so lovely you could bring your guinea pig with you to help you. Again, your GP just sounds amazing!

No pressure to reply to us, I just wanted you to know we’re thinking of you.

Ellie x

guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Ellie_at_APP

Hi Ellie,It gave me great courage knowing you were all thinking of me yesterday and it went did go well..the Guinea pig helped a lot as helps to keep me grounded and has a special place as when I was very ill, these little creatures were the only thing I could go out each morning and feed and talk to, so with appointments and therapy have been very important. I will write properly as just taking things in at the moment.. my gp is amazing and we have a trust and understanding, I wish there was some kind of award or acknowledgement we could give him for his support, he told me I don't need to keep thanking him, but I am so grateful for his support and compassion he has shown me through my journey xx

Moby the Guinea pig,
Pikorua profile image

Dearest Guinea1,

I am thinking of you. You are a very brave lady.

I did exactly the same as my partner and I suffered greatly when I had to stay in a mixed gender psychiatric hospital for 2 months. We both ended up with PTSD.

Anyhow, I just want to let you know, whenever it feels overwhelming inside you can pick up on one to one support. This APP forum has been absolutely amazing, also at a time when I opened up the medical file...always remember, whatever happened throughout this atrocious time, we have been very poorly and nothing has been our fault...(I've learnt that when I felt pretty vulnerable, but very cushioned by some very lovely ladies on this site)

Wishing you clarity and pleased that your GP will help you along the road of recovery.

Love and kindness xxx

guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Pikorua

Thank you.. I am ok and it did go well... I will update my experience .. even though I was Ill many years ago it is so good to have the support from the lovely people from APP and to be able to share my journey when trauma of the whole experience of surviving PP comes out .. take care xx

You may also like...