Across the UK public health sector waiting times are increasing at an astounding rate. The number of patients kept in A&E for over 12 hours in England has soared by 10,546 per cent in five years. This is happening alongside a drastic rise in mental health among all ages of the population with suicide listed as the highest cause of death amongst males over 45. Considering the scale of the issues facing the NHS new and better ways must be thought of to ease the strain on the UK’s public health system, alongside a much needed funding increase. Unfortunately psychiatric services are often left behind in the struggle to treat more apparent and “life threatening” diseases and injuries. This article intends to explore some of the ways this dilemma is and can be addressed both in the private and public sectors.
Online therapy methods are one of the first steps towards a modernised mental health treatment. With organisations such as Iapt seeking to treat 15% of those with common mental illness in the UK, soon we could see the face to face dynamic of therapy switch to a technology enabled platform. This shift would reduce the need for physical spaces and concrete working hours enabling individual therapist to provide a cheaper and more robust service. Alongside the fiscal advantages of this technology it would also aid in reducing the maximum waiting time of 18 weeks set by the NHS. While evaluating its benefits it is worthwhile considering the importance of immediate care when treating illnesses, which left untended could evolve or deteriorate quickly. Not only are extended waiting periods negative for the well being of an individual they also end up leaving the NHS with a more complex issue to deal with.
Another time tested method that needs to be focussed on within the NHS is preventative care. This applies directly to our handling of mental health as it is shown that treatment in the early stages is especially effective. Technology designed to treat mental health at the offset is difficult to produce and test but the use of services such as Samaritans can help lower the burden on traditional therapy providers. With the ability to immediately contact a support network, initial treatment can be offered in a matter of minutes. As society becomes less social (Almost a quarter of UK households are single occupants) the ability for those struggling with mental health issues to speak out, and having an appropriate place to do so, is vital for reducing this growing epidemic.
Furthermore the complexity of mental health services needs to be reduced in order to provide cost efficient, easily accessible care. The NHS due to its size lacks the ability to move quickly and inefficiencies are rife throughout, while wages have stagnated. The NHS 10 Point Plan is intending to remedy this situation and though the results are yet to be seen it is reassuring that the issue is being given significant thought within the institution. While wanting to refrain from cherry-picked statistics there is still a long way to go for crisis care within the NHS. While things are improving 26% of those seeking help during a crisis reported they did not receive appropriate or satisfactory care (according to the NHS backed 2017 “Community Mental Health Survey”). Appropriate care in this area is especially important as those suffering from a mental health related crisis are most at risk, if unable to receive care quick enough or in a way that they feel helps them
In summary while the public health system is beginning to show signs of improvement (especially after the budget cuts and lack of funding in 2008) we still have a long way to go. While respecting the fundamental causes and ideologies of the NHS those in the private and public sector have to develop new methods for dealing with the issues we all face. The synergy of smaller companies, startups and the NHS will allow the unique benefits of each group to aid the push towards new, life changing solutions. While it may take some time to reverse or slow the growth of this mental health epidemic, it feels like we are starting to move in the right direction. Find out how we are attempting to advance this cause by clicking the link below.
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