Your views about mental health services in County Durham

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch County Durham engaged with over 300 mental health service users and staff members. Surveys, one-to-one case studies, and information stands were used to gather people's experiences of mental health services. 

The report found that the majority of people accessing mental health services did so through their GP or another medical professional. Over half of people accessing mental health services have experienced poor mental health for over 12 months, and less than 5% seek help within the (NHS) recommended 2 weeks of experiencing symptoms such as low mood, lack of interest or enjoyment in life and worrying more than normal. In addition to this, it was raised that people experience difficulties in finding information on local mental health services. Many reported that they simply did not know where to go for help or information and GP appointments were not always readily available. A number of service users expressed concerns that having completed their initial course of therapy and believing they required the next level of treatment, the assessment guidelines did not render them ‘unwell enough’ to receive additional therapy. In terms of waiting times, the majority of the people were seen within 12 weeks, with 18% still waiting for treatment after this time (the national target is 18 weeks). Mental Health professionals reported that, when asked what could be done to improve mental health support in the workplace, reducing caseloads, flexible working, listening to staff concerns and more support beyond a phased return to work were suggested.

The recommendations made in the report centred around processes and staffing; patients, therapies and appointments; and raising awareness of mental health.

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General details

Report title 
Your views about mental health services in County Durham
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch County Durham
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 24 July, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 1 April, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 30 April, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Holistic support
Information providing
Quality of care
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Staff levels
Staff training
Waiting times and lists for treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Engagement event
User stories
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Counselling/improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT)
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Depression and anxiety service

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Mental health
Types of long term conditions 
Mental health condition

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.