Wednesday 31 July 2013

"Lights!" Sheds Light

I'm busy catching up with Hafal's summer campaign having been preoccupied recently with my own health problems...

This seems a good moment to reflect on the campaign so far and consider what we are learning from it (and thanks to Hafal's public affairs chief Peter Martin for briefing me). But first a reminder about what we are up to.

The Lights! Camera! ACTION! campaign is being led by mental health service users and carers, capturing their experiences of using mental health services and how effectively the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 and the new mental health strategy are being delivered.

The Campaign was launched on 9th May 2013 by Mark Drakeford A.M., the Minister for Health and Social Services, and representatives from each of the 4 main political parties also spoke at the event in support of the campaign: Ken Skates (Labour), Mark Isherwood (Conservative), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and Kirsty Williams (Liberal Democrats).

So far our mobile studio has broadcast from 12 local events across South Wales and has now moved up to cover 7 North Wales counties during the high summer before heading south again to complete all 22 counties by the end of September.

Service users and carers have been talking openly and honestly at the events, many through film blogs, about their experiences and how services have either helped or hindered their own personal recovery. Also as part of the Campaign service users and carers are completing a feedback questionnaire asking about their experiences of primary and secondary mental health services.

A wide range of issues have already been highlighted by people who use mental health services, including:

• the importance of peer support in a person’s recovery

• the need for people to have somewhere secure to live

• the importance of people having greater control and more power over how services are planned and delivered

• the need for effective care and treatment planning

However, one particular message is emerging already from the campaign, and this is the need for psychological (talking) therapies to be made more widely and readily available for people with a serious mental illness, and for easier and faster access to these services. For example:

• Nigel from Newport spoke about the shortage of trained practitioners, and how it wasn’t tea and sympathy he needed but good professional therapy to help him and others with similar needs move on in their personal recovery.

• Steve from Torfaen spoke about how his psychiatrist referred him to see a psychologist but that he had to wait for over 2 years before he got an appointment to see one.

The feedback sheets also show that for many people the only option they are being offered is prescribed medication, despite a clear need having been identified for some form of specialist psychological intervention.

The Lights! Camera! ACTION! user and carer panel

So what should our response to this be? Our campaign service user and carer panel will respond formally at the end of the campaign but the feedback so far demonstrates once again that all people with a serious mental illness should have access to a range of psychological therapies. Specifically mental health services should ensure...

• routine availability of a range of psychological therapies for everyone diagnosed with a psychotic illness

• a priority for access to psychological therapies for those in greatest need

• psychological therapies for people diagnosed with a psychotic illness are available and widely used within mental health units and hospitals and becomes a standard provision

• psychological therapies begin as soon as possible for people diagnosed with a psychotic illness, and as a minimum follow NICE guidelines

• As well as making available access to specialist psychological interventions, a full range of psychological interventions are made available for people diagnosed with a psychotic illness to meet their primary care needs also (e.g. anxiety disorders, depression, etc.)

Meanwhile we have learnt a lot about implementation of the Care and Treatment Plans prescribed by the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 which established a platform for people to have a greater say and more control over a range of care and treatment services they receive. Feedback suggests that more people who use secondary mental health services now have a fully completed Care and Treatment Plan. However, the quality and usefulness of those plans still varies across Wales.

Training is key to this, and not just training for the professionals. Take a look at the training course How to Get a Great Care and Treatment Plan that has been developed for delivery to mental health service users and carers by Hafal and its partners Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation. We look forward to this training being widely rolled out across Wales to help drive up the quality of people’s Care and Treatment Plans.