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Mental health services a let down for people in England?

Recent reports in the media/from interested bodies have highlighted concerns about mental health provision in England.

There are several articles in the media which highlight that mentally ill people no longer have faith in the NHS Mental Health Services in England. An example is the publication of the case published in the Guardian Newspaper in January 2016 where a father was severely depressed for many years. He had suicidal thoughts for many years and felt that there was no one to help him.

Another headline on BBC news in February 2016 emphasises again on the failure of the mental health services with the BBC reporting that a review by The Independent Commission has found that access to care for mentally ill patients is inadequate nationally and that mental health remains a neglected service.

Fundamental Facts about Mental Health paper shows that in any year one in four people experiences a mental health problem. Three quarters of people with mental health problems receive no treatment at all. They describe Mental Health Services in England as overstretched, have long waiting times and in some regions lacking in specialist services.

The current problem is with the way our society still views mental illness. People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to the mental ill health and discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. The situation is exacerbated by the media because this often links mental illness with violence or portrays people with mental health problems as dangerous or very unable to live normal lives.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate directly or indirectly against people with mental health problems in public services and functions, access to premises, work and transport.

The Five Year Forward View paper reveals that the current experiences of mental health care is that nearly two million adults were in contact with specialist mental health and learning disability services at some point in 2014/2015. Of these adults with more severe mental health problems, 90 per cent are supported by community services. However, within these services there are very long waits for some of the key interventions recommended by NICE, such as psychological therapy, and many people never have access to these interventions.

Despite this we spent £34 billion each year on mental health.

The Five Year Forward Review view for mental health in NHS in England highlights that we need a fresh mindset as cited in the report:

“We should have fewer cases where people are unable to get physical care due to mental health problems affecting engagement and attendance. And we need a provision of mental health support in physical health care settings – especially primary care”.

By Valentina Poenaru, Medical Negligence team.