“Community centred support needed now more than ever,” Mental Health Foundation responds to survey results
Isabella Goldie, Director of Development and Delivery at the Mental Health Foundation responds to the 2016 Community Mental Health Survey results. Outlining what they can tell us about current service care quality and sharing her prescription for improvement.
Community mental health services are in the ideal position to get to know people in the full context of their lives, including the networks that can support their recovery. They can provide a life line and the quality of response when someone is in crisis can be a pivotal turning point for better or for worse.
For people who are in distress, seeking help can be fraught with barriers and it is beholden on services to facilitate smooth access. We know that people who do not get support when they need it are more likely to require higher levels of care further down the line, which can often mean more restrictive care.
“The survey also highlights that there’s still a long way to go. When community services fail there is often nowhere else to turn, and it’s unacceptable that over a third reported their overall experience of care as being poor. Having experienced a mental health problem is often a traumatic event but it can be a point where with the right support many people can make the transition through to full recovery.”
A reassuring finding in this year’s Community Mental Health Survey was the strong majority of people reporting that they always feel treated with dignity and respect in services. This kind of confidence is crucial in ensuring that services are accessible to people. We know that mental health self-stigma and shame perpetuate a culture of silence in which people feel less able to open up and get the support they need, when they need it. There has been progress in cultivating a culture in services that does not reinforce stigma that people living with mental health problems are likely to experience in their day to day lives.
However, the survey also highlights that there’s still a long way to go. When community services fail there is often nowhere else to turn, and it’s unacceptable that over a third reported their overall experience of care as being poor. Having experienced a mental health problem is often a traumatic event but it can be a point where with the right support many people can make the transition through to full recovery.
Despite progress in public awareness and mental health rising up the policy agenda, the necessary investment in mental health still isn’t there; mental health services receive a fraction of the funding that other health areas receive and services in many places are contracting and under increasing pressure. This is why now more than ever we need to get commissioning right, and make sure that we co-produce services with the people who will be using them to make sure they are fit for purpose.
Mental health problems remain one of the greatest public health challenges and we need to take this challenge seriously if we are going to address this. We need to understand that looking after people at their most vulnerable is not only a mark of who we are as a society but it is also an investment in all of our futures.
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