The return of the Kings Fund events saw DCC attend a day’s session discussing all things mental health, particularly, how mental health patients can be better cared for leading to better mental health outcomes with a heavy focus on the role of primary and community care to help deliver integrated mental health care for patients.
List of attendees included healthcare professionals from both primary and secondary care and delegates from universities, councils and other mental healthcare specialist.
The first session was primarily discussing the changes that need to be adapted within the system that will help mental health patients. Firstly, it is looking at (for) leaders, the people who are tooled up on mental health and essentially know their stuff. Secondly, looking at Local Authorities and CCG’s to obtain the relevant information from them in areas such as waiting times, outcomes in care, access to the relevant service, the level of care a patient requires and budgetary information. Evidently, it is important to be aware of and report on this information because the analysis of these data sets will identify the relevant changes and improvements that are required. An additional factor that is important is the sharing of information between different health care providers and making patients feel comfortable talking about the problems they are facing.
Dr Geraldine Strathdee presented what she calls a, “Three Third Strategy.” Aptly, the strategy is split into three distinct factors namely, identifying the causes of mental health thus formulating prevention strategy. Many members of the public become depressed due to stress at work, being unemployed, relationship and other common issues that arise in the average human being. Dr Strathdee thus stated prevention strategies should being at a young age, at school. Schools should educate their children into the trials and tribulations they are likely to face in life therefore setting them up at a young age to be mentally strong and resilient. Treatment is the second third of the strategy involving a combination of treatment administered at primary and secondary care. The remaining third is dealing with the most complex issues.
The police force, more often than not aren’t aware of the signs and symptoms of those mental health suffers who commit crimes because of their poor health. As a result they are often treated like a criminal who is in their right mind. This can lead to repercussions such as suicide whilst in cell. Police Sergeant Paul Jennings from Hampshire Constabulary explained that, due to a lack of resources and expertise, officers usually receive only a day’s worth of training in identifying mental health suffers.
Previously when officers believe a suspect has a mental health condition they take them to A&E, which is putting unnecessary strains on the already stretched A&E department. Moreover, an individual will have to wait hours before they’re seen.
Under operation Serenity, the police and mental health practitioners respond to calls together. Mental health professional(s) present at the scene with the police can conduct a quick assessment and diagnosis, saving time and resources. However, it must be stressed the differences between people committing an offence due to their mental condition to those who have a mental illness that which is the reason for their crime. Sergeant Jennings also stated that the process of becoming mental illness friendly will take up to two decades and left us with the idea of having a mental health team present at stations at all times to cater for differing mental conditions.
The day raised many other important points such as the link between smoking and mental illness and the role of treating mental illness at primary care level to reduce unplanned admissions to hospitals and increase planned admissions into hospitals.
Overall, the theme for the day is to look at mental illness in a 360° view. From identifying why mental illness occurs and putting preventative measures in place, to ensure the care is integrated and finally outcomes measured appropriately to develop best practice.
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