Mental health takeover: What does the future hold for mental health treatment?

Norwich MIND chief executive Amanda Hedley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich MIND chief executive Amanda Hedley. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

For far too long mental health provision in both our region and across the country is something which has been neglected in comparison to physical health.

And still today - although attitudes towards mental illness appear to have improved - we do not have equal provision between the two, something health chiefs tend to call parity of esteem.

But as more people have looked to address their mental wellbeing, strain on services has increased, leading to a need for a different approach to treating service users moving forward.

In a survey conducted by this newspaper, it was shown there was no age group which stood out as experiencing worse mental health than any other. Struggles can affect anyone of any age it would seem.

Of the 300 people who filled in our survey, some 78pc said they had taken a day off work due to their mental health.

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Many people had told their manager it was because of mental health - perhaps indicating a lessening of the stigma which previously surrounded these problems.

Unfortunately, 65pc of people said their workplace would not be understand the need of a sick day for their mental health.

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Overwhelmingly, the advice given was to talk to someone. One respondent summed it up by saying: 'Please, please talk to someone, anyone.'

Another added: 'Be patient with yourself. Mental health is ill health, just as a broken leg is.

'If you had a broken leg, you'd take a step back and recover.

'If you have issues with your mental health, take a step back, be kind to yourself and recover.

'And do not suffer alone.

'Talking is hard, but it'll be the best thing you ever do - it saved my life.'

Although this might be the best first step when your mental health is suffering, more work is now going on to try and stop people reaching a stage where they need specialist mental health care.

Some see that increasingly the third sector - such as charities - will have to pick up where NHS mental health services maybe cannot resource.

Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), said more and more care would be provided in the community in the future.

It comes as demand on NHS mental health services continues to rise, our survey showed 75pc of people had accessed treatment via the NHS. On the whole people rated this as varied, with some saying their experience was outstanding, others terrible.

'While many people still identify hospital beds as being the place to receive care, outcomes show us that the vast majority of care is better delivered in the community by our community staff, social services and carers working together,' Mr Scott said.

And while this was a desire shared by others, such as chief executive of Norwich Mind, Amanda Hedley, the worry was the provision was not yet in place to allow that to happen.

Ms Hedley said: 'People want to stay in their own homes. But I don't think that provision is there at the moment, we need a 24/7 community response.'

And it is also predicted there will be a push on prevention and self-care, a theme seen across the NHS.

Ms Hedley added: 'It's about early on, helping people understand they can do a lot to keep themselves well and early intervention.

'But unfortunately a lot of the funding for early intervention support has been cut.'

Early intervention is on the agenda nationally too, as the government looks to bolster mental health services by 2021.

For Mr Scott, the future of mental health services in our region hinges on understanding that for very many people a mental health condition is something they will live with throughout their life.

'A good analogy would be to compare mental ill health with diabetes - there is no known 'cure' for diabetes but with the right education from professionals for effective self-care, the right medicines, and therapeutic support, people learn to live with and manage their condition,' he said.

'In mental health terms we refer to this as 'recovery' - a concept which starts with the premise that it is possible to live a full and meaningful life with or without symptoms of a mental health condition.

'And which begins by recognising the patient is the expert about their own mental health.

'The recovery concept therefore takes us from 'what is the matter with you' to 'what matters to me'.'

Where to turn for help

The Wellbeing Service is the first port of call for managing stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Contact 0300 123 1503 or visit

Charity Mind offers a whole host of services from a support line to low-cost counselling, for more information visit

Norwich-based B-eat offers support for those living with eating disorders. They have a helpline available 365 days a year from 3pm to 10pm on 0808 801 0677 or 0808 801 0711 for the youth line.

Those with pre- or post-natal depression can contact Time Norfolk on 0333 3058 552 or email

Samaritans offer confidential and non-judgemental emotional support, call 08457 90 90 90

For help with drugs or alcohol, contact Norfolk Recovery Partnership on 0300 7900 227 or

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