Local communities across England have told Healthwatch that mental health support is an issue we should prioritise.
This is why we are launching a new multi-year project to find out what support people need. We want to hear what works and what could be better to help the NHS understand the improvements the public want to see.
What do we already know?
People have told their local Healthwatch that they want to see more done to improve the support available to help them manage their mental health. They also want to see mental health concerns treated with equal importance as their physical health.
From the experiences people have shared with us so far, key issues include:
People do not always get the help they need early enough when they start to develop mental health problems.
It can be difficult to access the right support, because of problems like long waiting times for an initial diagnosis.
Individuals don’t always receive continuous or consistent care when using mental health services, and the support provided is not always focussed on the issues that are most important to them.
Accessing specialist support in a crisis can be challenging.
We know we need to do more to understand what support people want to manage their mental health in the future. Mental health problems are often hidden and can affect anyone, at any point in their lives - including new parents, children, teenagers, adults and older people.
Different mental health problems are also dealt with by different types of services to help prevent issues and provide support.
What do we need to find out?
In its strategy for mental health services, NHS England - who lead NHS services in England - has said they want to:
To help make this happen we want to:
Understand more about people’s experiences of care, at different stages of life, to make sure that those who run the relevant services hear about the improvements in support people would like to see.
Make sure the views of specific sections of the community are heard - especially those whose experiences are not understood by the NHS and do not have access, on an equal basis with others, to get the support they need.
How will we do this?
Our ambition is to work with local Healthwatch and other organisations - looking at the evidence that already exists and undertaking new research - to highlight the mental health support people, and their carers want from childhood to old age.
Given the importance of young people growing up in a stable environment that supports their development, we will start by looking at the support young people want when it comes to their mental health and their experiences of the services that support them.
We will then go on to look at the other key stages of life - asking what support do you need to manage your mental health in the future?