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20,000 people help reshape mental health care

Priorities include better access, wider choice of treatments and more focus on prevention

Mark Gould

Thursday, 03 September 2015

Better access to high quality services, a wider choice of treatments, more focus on prevention, more funding and less stigma are the top priorities for reshaping mental health care, according to a major survey.

More than 20,000 people contributed to the Mental Health Taskforce's Engagement Report which was carried out by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and will be used to develop a five year national NHS strategy by 2020.

Three clear themes emerged from the findings: prevention, access and quality. Fifty-two per cent of people said access was in their top three priorities for change, 33 per cent said needing a choice of treatment and 25 per cent said prevention. Funding was important with 21 per cent rating it in their top three and stigma was cited by 19 per cent.

Over half of the people who responded to the online survey had personal experience of mental health problems and around a tenth said it was a severe and enduring problem. Just under half was a family member or close friend and a quarter were mental health practitioners.

Since April, feedback has been received from 20,473 people via an online survey. In addition, views were collected at events from 250 carers and people with experience of mental illness; 60 people detained in secure mental health services were supported to send in written responses and 26 organisations also wrote in submissions.

The survey questions included themes such as people’s experiences of mental health challenges, desired changes to health by 2020, what the changes meant for specific groups and examples of what is working well already.

Other areas that were flagged as important included treating mental health equally with physical health, more joined up NHS services, attitudes of NHS professionals, improved training and recruiting staff with particular skills.

The report will inform the work of the Taskforce, which was launched in March 2015 to explore the variation in the availability of mental health services across England, look at the outcomes for people who are using services, and identify key priorities for improvement. All the findings will inform the full report which the Taskforce will publish in the autumn detailing the proposed five year national strategy.

Paul Farmer, chair of the Taskforce and chief executive of Mind, said: “There is a clear consensus among everyone we have spoken to so far that things need to happen – and urgently. There are some excellent initiatives underway, such as the Crisis Care Concordat, which in time will have a real and significant impact on the quality of care people receive.

“But we need also to look at what we can do for everyone struggling with their mental health and asking the NHS for help now and in the future, whatever their age or background. The Taskforce has the chance in a generation to deliver change that is achievable, urgent and necessary.”

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