Men­tal health ser­vices rated poor by users

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - MARK SMITH mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

MORE than a third of peo­ple with ex­pe­ri­ence of men­tal health ser­vices in Wales have rated it as “very poor” in an ex­clu­sive poll con­ducted by our web­site WalesOn­line to mark World Men­tal Health Day.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple were asked to com­plete an on­line sur­vey which asked for their opin­ions about the state of men­tal health pro­vi­sion across the coun­try.

On a scale rang­ing from “very poor” to “very good”, 180 of re­spon­dents (36.59%) rated the qual­ity of men­tal health ser­vices in their area as “very poor”, with 166 (33.74%) de­scrib­ing it as “some­what poor”.

In con­trast, just 25 (5.09%) peo­ple said their ex­pe­ri­ences of men­tal health ser­vices were “very good”.

When asked what im­prove­ments needed to be made in men­tal health pro­vi­sion, 414 (83.98%) said it needed more fund­ing and 408 (82.76%) said ac­cess to coun­selling needed to come ear­lier.

Nearly three-quar­ters of re­spon­dents said they felt men­tal health ser­vices did not have “par­ity of es­teem” with phys­i­cal health.

Sara Mose­ley, direc­tor of Mind Cymru, said: “These sur­vey re­sults show that men­tal health prob­lems are a part of life, ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly, for the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in Wales. We are talk­ing about men­tal health more, which is very im­por­tant.

“There are lots of good pol­icy ini­tia­tives but peo­ple are telling us there needs to be a break­through in terms of ac­cess­ing ser­vices when they need them. The big chal­lenge for Wales is to make that link be­tween good in­ten­tions and a change in peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences, wher­ever they are in Wales.”

The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who took the sur­vey – 489 out of 493 – ei­ther had ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal health prob­lems first-hand or had a fam­ily mem­ber with a re­lated con­di­tion.

Pos­i­tively, 73.91% of re­spon­dents with a men­tal health prob­lem had ac­cessed some form of sup­port – and just 4.57% had kept their men­tal health con­di­tion to them­selves.

The most com­mon way of manag­ing and im­prov­ing their men­tal well­be­ing was through sport.

But wor­ry­ingly, more than half (55.51%) said they ex­pe­ri­enced stigma or dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause of their ill­ness.

Alun Thomas, chief ex­ec­u­tive of men­tal health char­ity Hafal, said: “Hafal is led by its mem­bers – peo­ple di­rectly af­fected by a men­tal ill­ness – so we are keenly aware of the state of ser­vices in Wales.

“Our ex­pe­ri­ence is that men­tal health ser­vices vary con­sid­er­ably across Wales in avail­abil­ity and qual­ity.

“Men­tal health is of­ten called the ‘Cin­derella ser­vice’ be­cause of the small pro­por­tion of fund­ing it re­ceives in com­par­i­son to phys­i­cal health. We need par­ity of fund­ing.

“We are also wit­ness­ing the im­pact of aus­ter­ity on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and their bud­gets, with a huge in­crease in de­mand on lo­cal men­tal health ser­vices which are strug­gling.

“We need lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to re­in­state fund­ing of spe­cial­ist men­tal health ser­vices to re­lieve this pres­sure.”

The Welsh Govern­ment said sup­port­ing peo­ple with men­tal health is one of its “top priorities”.

A spokesman said: “We con­tinue to spend more on men­tal health ser­vices than on any other part of the Welsh NHS, with fund­ing in­creas­ing by £20m to more than £629m this fi­nan­cial year.

“Over the last two fi­nan­cial years, we have an­nounced more than £22m of new fund­ing for men­tal health ser­vices.

“This in­cludes a £3m in­vest­ment in psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­pies for adults.”

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