Healthwatch Cornwall publish report on accessing mental health support in Cornwall

Mental health has been placed under severe strain during the pandemic, the report highlights how residents in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have accessed services and makes recommendations for improvements in the future
Recommendations for improving mental health services

The ongoing pandemic and lockdown restrictions have created a complex and challenging environment for people to navigate, with mental health and wellbeing impacted considerably as a result.

This has created not only an increase in demand and pressure on mental health service providers, but also an increase in challenges for residents accessing services as they discover and navigate new ways of accessing support.

The Healthwatch Cornwall survey ‘accessing mental health support in Cornwall’ was conducted in February 2021 to understand how residents in Cornwall were accessing mental health services during the pandemic. The report published today demonstrates the difficulties and pressures placed on residents' mental health, and their experience of accessing mental health services for support.

The report makes nine recommendations for improvements that can be made to help improve access to mental health services in the future.

Key findings:

  • 50% of respondents have accessed mental health support in the last six months
  • One in four of those identified with ‘probable’ depression or anxiety have not accessed any form of support
  • People appreciated the empathetic, listening skills of GPs and mental health professionals. For some, face-to-face contact remains important
  • Young adults were more likely to describe symptoms of anxiety and depression and more likely to access support
  • Online information and advice accessed least by young adults and over 65’s
  • People unable to access the support they would like were more likely to have symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Some people experienced difficulties accessing support when they needed it, including difficulties getting help through their GP, and long waits for counselling and talking therapies
  • Some felt improved signposting to other services while waiting to access support, or once discharged from services such as Outlook South West’s CBT sessions, or Community Mental Health Teams was important
  • People with long-term physical health conditions described the impact of their condition on their mental health and wellbeing, and commented on the need for more specialist support
  • Employee workplace support for staff’s mental health and wellbeing is key
We would like to thank the thousands of residents who came forward to engage with our mental health research campaign, telling us about their experience of accessing mental health services in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly. The report ‘Accessing mental health support in Cornwall’ makes clear recommendations for improvements to services based on this feedback, and we look forward to working with the system here to see those recommendations being reflected in service delivery in the future.
— Mario Dunn, Chief Executive Officer, Healthwatch Cornwall
This insightful report highlights the pressures the pandemic continues to place on the mental health and wellbeing of residents in Cornwall. It enables us to understand more about the experiences of people accessing mental health support, together with an insight into who might not be seeking support. Working alongside Healthwatch Cornwall, in collaboration with other stakeholder and partner groups, has brought significant benefits to not only our response and recovery planning in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also our ability to maintain our strategic plans for Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism across our communities and the delivery of the Adult Mental Health Strategy - Futures in Mind. We look forward to continuing to work with Healthwatch Cornwall to implement the recommendations and promote greater availability of, and timely access to mental health care and support.
— Tim Francis, Director for Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism
Working collaboratively with Healthwatch over the last couple of surveys has been invaluable in understanding the impact of the pandemic on the health and wellbeing of those living across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The results highlight the continued impact of the pandemic on mental health and highlights the important role GPs play in supporting patients. They also highlight some areas to build on, which includes greater work place support. We are doing a lot to try to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic with a range of new projects delivered to support individuals’ mental health and wellbeing, including the development of a new online training programme for workplaces, which will be available later this year. For more information please visit:
— Dr Richard Sharpe, Advanced Public Health Practitioner at Public Health Cornwall, said:

Download the full report and appendix by clicking on the links below

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