OPINION: ‘Mental health patients are being failed’

editorial image

A report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England highlights that people with mental health conditions are currently being failed by the health and social care system.

Their report, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, states: ‘For far too long, people of all ages with mental health problems have been stigmatised and marginalised, all too often experiencing an NHS that treats their minds and bodies separately.

‘Mental Health Services have been underfunded for decades, and too many people have received no help at all, leading to hundreds of thousands of lives put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths.’

The statistics make it all too clear that something needs to be done to transform care for people living with mental health problems.

Mental Health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK. It is estimated that the economic cost of mental illness in England is £105 billion each year. This includes the direct costs of services, lost productivity and reduced quality of life.

Only a quarter of people with mental health conditions will receive any treatment. Nine out of ten prisoners in England and Wales have a mental health condition, drug or alcohol problem. Suicide is rising, especially amongst middle aged men. The cross-party report is therefore tasking local health and social care providers to deliver significant improvements by 2020/21.

These include a seven-day NHS, better integration of mental and physical health services; and more emphasis on prevention and health promotion to help people lead better lives as equal citizens.

This will be part of Derbyshire’s over-arching Sustainable Transformation Plan ‘Joined Up Care’ that is currently on the table looking at how we can significantly change how health and social care services are delivered in the future.

Key to the success in these plans will be to ensure that services are led by the needs of the individual and not the system.

Healthwatch Derbyshire has been appointed to ensure that local people with mental health problems who are receiving health and social care support will have a greater say in how services should be provided.

We will be developing the Mental Health Service Receiver and Carer Engagement Service over the next three years. It will ensure that mental health service receivers and carers are asked for their views on finding solutions to the problems that the NHS and social care providers are facing, based on their own experiences.

If you would like to get involved, please contact us by emailing enquiries@healthwatchderbyshire.co.uk or calling 01773 880786.

By Karen Ritchie, Chief executive of Healthwatch Derbyshire.