More than 20,000 people have given their views on the top priorities for reshaping mental health services as part of a drive to develop a five year national NHS strategy for people of all ages.
Better access to high quality services, a wider choice of treatments, more focus on prevention, more funding and less stigma were the top five calls for change by 2020.
The results of the Mental Health Taskforce: Engagement Report have been published today (Wednesday) and will be discussed during a session at the NHS England Expo 2015 conference.
Carried out by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness on behalf of the Five Year Forward View national Mental Health Taskforce, the views of patients, carers, the public and health professionals were collected.
This included a conference held for more than 120 secure care mental health patients and led by a former secure care patient.
The report will be used to 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.
Paul Farmer, chair of the Taskforce and CEO of Mind, said: “I am really pleased that we have had such an astonishing response to our call for feedback. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to feed into this process so far, from people with lived experience of mental health problems and their families and friends, to mental health and other health and social care professionals and the general public.
“We are especially pleased that the response has come from such a diverse range of voices, particularly those most marginalised by society.
“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.”
Since April, feedback has been received from 20,473 people via an online survey; 250 people with lived experience and carers attended events, 60 people detained in secure mental health services were supported to send in written responses and 26 organisations also wrote in submissions.
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 on line 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.
Jacqui Dyer, vice chair of the taskforce, said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to have engaged and worked with experts by experience and professionals to co-produce this report. The strong commitment to addressing mental ill health and prioritising swift responsive interventions for all ages has been palpable in my view. I think the report reflects the urgency on these matters. The taskforce, in its wider co-productive sense, has responded accordingly and we share the passion to maintain the momentum to ensure the improvements our population seeks actually happens – we are firmly on our way.”
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.
Dr Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director for Mental Health at NHS England, said: “It’s excellent to have this wealth of information from more than 20,000 people and organisations on which the Taskforce can build its strategy.
“We value extremely highly the knowledge they have shared with us, and thank them for making the time to contribute.
“We are grateful, to those who have described what needs to change and provided examples of ‘ what good can look like’, and how practically to lead the changes needed and showcase how to track and measure progress.
“They all have in common that they start with service users and the families’ voice, engage local communities and work in partnership between commissioning, communities and providers to solve the challenges and promote success. We can build on these successes to effect a lasting change.”
Ian Callaghan, recovery and outcomes manager at Rethink Mental Illness and an ex-secure care service user, said: “Having spent time in secure care myself and experienced good as well as not so good care in the past, I now want to help ensure the views of people in secure care inform how services will be improved going forwards.
“In July we held the biggest gathering of people in secure care we have ever seen in the UK, getting their views on what’s working and what isn’t. We heard time and time again how important it was to them to feel part of driving this change, and it’s good to see this kind of involvement of people with lived experience of secure care at the heart of the Mental Health Taskforce.”
All the findings will inform the full report which the Taskforce will publish in the Autumn detailing the proposed five year national strategy.