Treat the whole person: The key to better mental health support

A counsellor shares his views about what would make care better for people with mental health conditions.
Man standing outside with his arms folded.

A North Devon counsellor says he wants to see services take a whole-person approach to mental health support, rather than simply putting a ‘sticking plaster’ on an illness.

Sam Scott from Ilfracombe is sharing his views to inform local implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan. The plan sets out the ways in which various areas of care need to be improved, including mental health. Now local NHS services need to hear from local people about what changes would make the biggest difference to their communities.

What would you do?

The NHS has included mental health as one of the core areas the NHS wants to improve in the Long Term Plan. 

The NHS wants to make care better in a number of ways, including: better support for children and young people, new mums and their partners, and at-risk groups, such as people experiencing homelessness, helping people manage their own mental health through better use of technology, and improved support for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

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“I see on a daily basis how if mental health issues are not worked on, they affect many other aspects of people’s lives, which have a knock-on effect, increasing the burden on the Government’s core services,” says Sam.

“I feel that with good mental health people can start to work on their overall lifestyle. There are many examples of how the mental aspect of a person’s life affects the physical aspect and how a vicious negative cycle can then perpetuate.

“Additionally, I feel services where a holistic approach is taken and ones which empower people are also important. A joined-up, whole-person approach can positively benefit people over a long-term period, rather than a short term ‘sticking plaster.’”

A common theme Sam sees in Devon is long wait times to access limited mental health services and a lack of communication between people and practitioners.

“Mental health services in the short term are only provided if somebody is in complete crisis, for example if they have tried to take their own life,” he says.

“Having somebody to support people to try and enable their lives to be more positive is such an important role.”

The 41-year-old, who is a Healthwatch Champion for Citizen’s Advice covering North Devon, West Devon and Torridge, is encouraging others to share their views to help improve the NHS.

“I have worked within the NHS in the past and absolutely respect and admire the people who work hard within the service for the benefit of the country. Please share your thoughts as it helps massively to shape future policy and practice in the NHS,” says Sam.

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