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UK report warns mental health services require preparation as needs increase

September 26, 2013

Starting Today CoverA new report by the Mental Health Foundation warns that the current UK health system will soon be unable to cope with the growing number of people with a mental health condition.

The report is a result of the Foundation’s Inquiry into the Future of Mental Health Services, which aimed to review the provision of mental health services in the UK and provide recommendations on how to prepare for the socio-economic and health challenges to come 20 to 30 years into the future. Entitled Starting Today: The Future of Mental Health Services, the report points out that at the current prevalence rate in the UK population, 2 million more adults and 100,000 more children will need treatment in 2030. This comes on the heels of recent accounts that mental health units in the UK have already begun to run out of inpatient beds.

Evidence for the report was gathered through an advisory panel, individual interviews and a formal call for evidence which received more than 1,500 respondents from a range of mental health service users, caregivers and health professionals. A number of background papers and an expert seminar were also conducted to supplement the findings.

Based on the evidence gathered, the report recommends the following to prepare the UK mental health system for the demands of the future:

  • Personalizing services to each individual’s unique needs, rather than a “one size fits all” approach to care;
  • Integrated care across mental health services, with multidisciplinary teams of health professionals working in partnership and consultation with service users and caregivers;
  • Providing a range of interventions that support and influence an individual’s mental development across the life span;
  • Developing the mental health workforce to ensure that mental health practitioners are easily accessible and possess the appropriate professional competencies to assist individuals facing mental health challenges;
  • Increasing clinical and social research on mental health, as well as developing new technologies to improve service delivery;
  • Addressing the social determinants of health, such as debt and unemployment, which are often risk factors associated with mental health conditions.

The researchers acknowledge that many of these recommendations are not radically innovative, but point out that the evidence indicates that the lack of “good, integrated mental health care is not a failure of understanding what needs to be done, it is a failure of actually implementing good practice in organisational strategies and the day to day business of providing people with the care and treatment they need.” The report highlights public education to reduce stigma as another important measure to improve mental health care.

To read the complete Mental Health Foundation report, Starting Today: The Future of Mental Health Services, please visit their website.

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