Summary of report content
Healthwatch Bristol evaluated people's experiences of mental health services in Bristol within the last 12 months. They used a mixed methods approach with online surveys, visits to local services and two Enter and Views between November 2017 and July 2018. Healthwatch Bristol heard from 313 people via the Emotional Health and Wellbeing survey and a further 130 people about their experiences of using CAMHS. Alongside the service users who engaged directly with community pot funded organisations and a handful of patients we spoke to at Mason and Oakwood Wards and Riverside Unit.
The report found that waiting times to access services were consistently mentioned through both online surveys and during the IAPT recommissioning process. There is a need to consider alternative therapies to medication, such as ‘green therapies’ and social prescribing, and giving patients more choice in the treatment(s) they would like to receive. It was reported that services need to be more coordinated to support people and their complex needs. Social connectivity, peer support, physical activity and learning new skills were consistently and positively mentioned. It was felt that these can help prevent issues arising, help accelerate recovery, and in the long term ease pressure on primary care services.
Recommendations included that reducing waiting times should be a priority; support during the wait and greater signposting should be reviewed; patients need to be listened to and proactively supported to access alternatives to medicine; people should be supported and empowered to access a wide range of services alongside and/or in addition to primary care; and commissioners should ensure that the hidden value of micro-providers and VCSE projects and initiatives are recognised and built into the mental health strategy.