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Charity calls for people's mental health experiences

SERVICES: Mental health

THE MENTAL health charity Mind is calling for people to share their experience of trying to access support from their GP for their mental health, as part of a large-scale survey of people with mental health problems.

The charity launched its Big Mental Health Survey last year as part of research into people’s experiences of visiting their GP and accessing support provided by charities.

More than 8,000 people in England and Wales took part and the results give a valuable insight into how well services are working and where improvements need to be made.

One of the key findings from the 2017 survey is that booking a GP appointment for your mental health can be difficult, takes too long and risks making your mental health worse.

The charity found that one in three people had to wait six days or more for their most recent appointment, usually because it was the first appointment available. One in three people who had to wait said their mental health got worse in the meantime.

Worryingly, one in ten didn’t even get as far as making an appointment – they wanted to see their GP or a practice nurse about their mental health in the past year, but weren’t able to. The main reason for this was mistrust, with a quarter saying that previous experience of the service has put them off going again.

The research also found that people had a better experience of care provided by voluntary organisations than GP services. Worryingly, young people and those experiencing severe mental health problems such as schizophrenia had the worst experiences of care.

A large proportion of mental health service users also have a long-term physical health condition but less than half felt able to discuss their physical health at the same time as their mental health.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said: “This is the first survey of its kind on this scale. Since GPs are the first port of call for most people seeking help for their mental health, we want to understand people’s experiences of primary care.

"It is a critical time for mental health care and the most important evidence of whether things are improving is in people’s experiences. We will be running this survey every year so that we can monitor whether services really are improving, and we’ll be using the data to hold services to account.

"Our 2018 survey is now open and we want as many people as possible to share their experiences and help us campaign for better services.”

The Big Mental Health Survey 2018 can be completed at www.bigmentalhealthsurvey.com

Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)

www.mind.org.uk

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