Every year, mental health trusts spend hundreds of thousands of pounds applying lawyers to represent them at investigations, where they could be found to be at fault. The relatives of those who have died, however, often get no legal aid and have to stand up and face those lawyers alone. Becky Montacute describes her proposal is to make sure that lessons learned from her mother’s death were learned.

I was at work when I found out that my mum was missing again.

I didn’t panic until my brother rang me and said that there were police helicopters over the reservoir.

Trying to hold it together, I started my excursion dwelling to the Chew valley, in Somerset. But in the taxi to Paddington station, I got a phone call from my stepdad to say to me that they’d find a body.

A few weeks later, I was staring at a circular about investigations. I’d picked it up in the waiting room of the mortuary, just after we’d identified my mum’s body. With a extinction like mum’s, from the moment it happens the clock is ticking on the legal process, which is your only chance to find out how and why your loved one died. That brochure – provided by a donation for bereaved lineages – was the first and last bit of assistance we received without actively trying it out. The government offered no backing at all.

My mum, Julie, been killed in the pond on 22 February last year, aged 56.

I’ve since have known that she fought with her mental health when I was a boy, but I never knew it. She was a wonderful mum, who ever put the requirements and concerns of everyone else above her own. She raised me and my brother on her own for years, and had been looking forward to retiring with my stepdad, and finally being able to relax.

It was clear that mum was severely unwell when I went home to stay just before starting my first profession, in April 2017. She told me then that she had tried to kill herself not long before. After weeks of calls to the mental health team, she was finally sliced, but she texted me the day she went into hospital to predict she “couldve been” out in time for my graduation weeks later. Even then, she was thinking about others , not herself.

Image caption Becky graduating with a PhD from Manchester University, with Julie

She was sliced for about six weeks. When she was on the right medication, with someone checking that she actually took it, it was like a switching was turn around on.

But a few months later, at the beginnings of 2018, she started asking mental health services for help again. She was worried her medication had stopped working. She never required my brother and me to know how ill she was, and she obscured it from us well, but I now know that she was frequently announcing mental health services. My mum was the perfect patient, actively seeking management, but she was not given the care she desperately needed.


Find out more

Listen to Becky’s story on Household v the country: An unfair battle? on File on 4, on BBC Radio 4, at 20:00 on 1 October 2019 on File on 4, on BBC Radio 4, at 20:00 on 1 October 2019 You can catch up later on BBC Sounds Image caption Julie as a girl Image caption Julie and Becky as a child On behalf of the foundation set up in her mum’s memory, Becky Montacute submitted Freedom of Information requests to the 53 mental health issues relies in England, asks how much they’d spent on lawyers at investigations in the financial year 2017 -2 018. About half of them answered – revealing they’d spent more than PS4m. That to report to simply under PS118, 000( PS117, 968) made available to lineages as legal aid for investigations involving mental health relies. BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 has been told by the Legal Aid Agency that out of more than 600 requests for legal aid for inquests last year, nearly half were refused. Image caption Julie and Becky in the garden-variety

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