Lincoln model raising awareness of brain disease that saw her wrongly sectioned under Mental Health Act

A woman from Lincoln who was sectioned after being wrongly diagnosed as mentally ill is raising awareness of what happened to her.

Lucy Dawson was suffering from Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation to her brain, and displayed symptoms of someone having a mental breakdown, her family were told on her 21st birthday that she was dying.

She was placed on a psychiatric ward where an accident left her permanently disabled.

She now works as a model and hopes that brands will use more disabled models in the future, as she says disabled people still need to buy clothes.

Credit: Lucy Dawson/ Adam Brazier

Lucy, from Market Rasen, had just entered her third year at the University of Leicester in October 2016 when she started to notice something was wrong.

She started experiencing intense migraines and had become extremely depressed and subdued, isolating herself away from her friends and sleeping often.

Lucy says that initially her friends thought she was struggling to cope with the pressures of university, and encouraged her to see a doctor.

One morning her housemate found her screaming her name having "completely trashed" her university room.

Lucy was sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 and admitted to the Peter Hodgkinson mental health unit at Lincoln County Hospital, as staff believed she was suffering from a mental breakdown.

Dr Ava Easton, CEO of the Encephalitis Society, said: "Many of the presentations of the patient are psychiatric in nature it is only as they become more unwell that you begin to see things that might be suggesting it is neurological, such as seizures.

"There is a lot of work going on at the moment to raise awareness to have neurology and psychiatry talking to each other."

Lucy in hospital. Credit: Lucy Dawson

Lucy said: "The actual cause, the brain disease, was getting worse and worse until on my 21st birthday they told my mum and dad she's dying and we don't know why.

"So as a last-ditch effort we can give her ECT, Electric Convulsive therapy."

The treatment stopped Lucy's condition from deteriorating, however, whilst still in hospital she fell from her bed during a seizure onto a pipe and burnt her leg, leaving her permanently disabled.

Lincoln Partnership Foundation Trust told ITV News: "We are truly sorry for any care that fell below our expected standards and the impact this has had on Lucy and her family.

"We are committed to delivering high quality, safe patient care and have a robust internal investigation process in place to learn lessons for the future."

Lucy had to learn to walk and talk again after her illness and she is now trying to raise awareness through her website.