Patient experience of community mental health services remains poor with particular concerns about access to care and crisis support and communication, a national survey commissioned by the CQC has found.
It shows nothing has changed after two previous annual surveys highlighting poor care, the survey found, and many of the areas with the poorest results historically remain at the bottom of the table.
Yet a cost-of-living crisis is impacting households and increasing the demand for mental health care, said Picker who carried out the survey for the CQC.
Feedback from than 13,400 people in contact with community mental health services between September and November 2021 found that younger people aged 18 to 35, those receiving care over the phone and those with more challenging or severe disorder were less likely to report positive experiences.
The survey also found that 40% of respondents had not had a care review meeting in the last 12 months, almost a third (31%) had not been told who was in charge of their care, and less than half (48%) thought the person they saw was aware of their treatment history.
Only 55% said they were given enough time to discuss their needs and treatment, a report of the findings said.
Half of users (51%) said that they did not receive any help or advice with finding support for financial advice or benefits, which is a 3% point increase from last year’s survey.
And 50% said they did not receive help or advice about finding or keeping work but they would have liked it.
There were some signs of improvement in some areas including around ‘organising care’ where 63% of respondents said they ‘definitely’ got the help they needed the last time they contacted the person who was responsible for their care, while 88% said that this person organised their care ‘quite well’ or ‘very well’.
Jenny King, Picker’s chief research officer, said when Thérèse Coffey, then health secretary, announced the UK government’s Our plan for patients, that talked about continuing to improve the availability of mental health support through expansion of services, ‘there was little detail on how this would be achieved and how backlogs of care in mental health services would be resolved’.
She added: ‘With the backdrop of the cost of living crisis and its impact on people’s mental health, the findings from this survey highlight the urgent need for more to be done to address accessibility issues.
‘And not just in mental health services but across health and social care where, as highlighted by CQC’s 2021/22 State of Care report, people are waiting too long for appointments, assessments, and treatment.’
A project led by UCL researchers will offer social prescriptions for arts, music, dance and sports to adolescents with depression and anxiety.
The pilot will involve 600 11-to-18-year-olds who are on mental health service waiting lists for conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD at a number of sites across England.
Researchers will assess the feasibility, uptake and cost of the service, as well as its effectiveness, with the aim that the model they develop will be scaled nationally.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are investing more than any government to expand and transform mental health services so people can access the support they need when and where they need it.
‘This includes almost £1 billion to improve community mental health care to give 370,000 adults with severe mental illnesses greater choice and control over their care and support them to live well in their communities.’
An analysis of the numbers of patients being seen by mental health services shows that demand is far outstripping capacity, the BMA warned earlier this month.