In September, I had the great privilege of speaking at the College of Medicine’s Summer School on the subject of mental health. It was the day after I had just helped to host NHS England’s Health and Care Expo in Manchester, where I spent a full 48 hours immersed in the ins and outs of how we need to meet the needs of those with health issues, including and somewhat apologetically pushing its way to the centre, mental health.
There is no doubt that mental health has historically been seen as a side issue, a few decades ago we tipped all the mentally ill people back into the community so now we don’t need to worry, they all got better. With one in three people experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime, there is clearly still a big issue.
Early intervention is key, we hear this time and time again and yet those who visit their GP may wait months for an appointment with a mental health specialist. They may find themselves fobbed off with medication without really having root issues tackled.
In Manchester I heard a wonderful but tragic story of a woman had been accessing mental health services since the age of eight. In 2011, in her forties, with a number of suicide attempts behind her she sat in her GP’s surgery and saw a poster for Art therapy. It was a light bulb moment.
In Manchester I heard a wonderful but tragic story of a woman had been accessing mental health services since the age of eight. In 2011, in her forties, with a number of suicide attempts behind her she sat in her GP’s surgery and saw a poster for Art therapy. It was a light bulb moment, She waited 15 months to get onto the course. She has now been drug free for two years and has gained employment, sold over 100 paintings and her children are no longer having to care for their bed bound, depressed mum. The question is how does a programme like this to scale up further within a rigid system requiring instant measurability, and metres of red tape? Can the system truly embrace Social Prescribing?
The Realising the Value programme takes individuals and groups of people who are doing something valuable and helps them to scale it up to reach a whole community. We need more of this.
At NHS England’s Health and Care Expo, Clare Murdoch the National Director for Mental Health for NHS England said, “We need psychology guided care, we cannot underestimate the impact of mental health in the body.”
With this in mind, surely it must be the consideration of all healthcare stakeholders, no matter what area of the body they are dealing with to prioritise and centralise mental health.
Only one in four children and young people referred to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services currently manages to get an appointment.
So onto children and their mental health, all four of my children access some form of mental health service. Depending on how you look at it our family are very lucky because the children sadly meet the ridiculously high thresholds required to get help. But here are the stats – only one in four children and young people referred to Camhs (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) currently manages to get an appointment.
I raised this issue of the need for early intervention and lack of access for children and young people with Clare Murdoch. She proudly told me that with new budgets just announced, by 2021 this number will rise to one in three.
So the question left hanging is: In a system that recognises early intervention as being paramount to recovery or self-management what happens to the 66-75% of children who have grown up with no intervention at all. I fear a tsunami of mental health issues round the corner for the next generation. If Clare Murdoch’s assertion that mental health and the body are inextricably linked what does this say about developing healthcare sustainability and more importantly, what will the future look like for these young people?
© Carrie Grant Oct 2016