100 Days of Mental Health CONFED write-up

100 Days of Mental Health CONFED write-up

Author -  Paul Southwood

“We cannot afford to not act.” Simple and direct, the first line of the plan to cover the first 100 days after the governmental election inspires change in the mental health sector. Whilst highlighting the current social and economic factors experienced within the mental health sector the focus for mental health is the future, but with more clarity than just a pipeline dream.

The main aims at the 2015 NHS Confed Mental Health break-out session were stated clearly, each proclamation almost mockingly shadowed by the echoes of many previous decades of discussion.

Communication between physical health and mental health was a focus of most of the discussions with a lot of concern about the lack of current integration between MH and physical health services (A&E in particular). The strong beliefs in the holistic nature of future healthcare in England, though presented in a revelatory and revolutionary tone, has constituted a long running plea; previously seen by the NHS represented by those of the human potential movement and those practicing in the encounter groups of the 1960s. Sir Andrew Cash OBE discussed the need to readdress physical health training to cover basic aspects of mental health, in order to address physical consequences of a mental health condition as well as aiding the promotion of mental health well-being. The need to address physical health in relation to mental health was a sentiment shared with Paul Farmer (CEO Mind), though this would mean better communication and sharing of data between, what has historically been seen as, separate areas of health. Simple on paper, in practice patient data being shared has been under continual scrutiny [1] and recent attempts to improve data sharing[2] seem to have been put on hold.

Vanguards for an integrated, and more holistic, healthcare are needed to help illuminate the way forward (early possibilities being flagged as Derbyshire and Southernhealth). Their first point of call will be a future motivated plan to improve the ‘structural factors that facilitate good integrated care’[3], including reviewing their current IT systems. One person stressed the need for “a decent IT system that works! We’ve got to try and resolve our computer systems not talking to each other”. Good technology based communication between services, departments and healthcare professionals will smooth over the patient’s experience of the pathway, with one user stating that ‘the most frustrating part of my treatment was how fragmented it was… [the healthcare professionals] had no mechanism for actually talking together’.

Plans and small changes made now to improve the efficiency and communication of healthcare’s technology solutions will further increase time for front-line professionals and improve costs. The latter itself dominating a lot of general talk at Confed; Value versus Values and ‘doing more for less’. Indeed, and rather ironically, the general theme of mental health’s presence at Confed 2015 was better sharing and better communication.

Author Bio:

Paul Southwood (BSc Clin Hyp. PGCert. PsyT.)

Relatively new to Winscribe, Paul is currently working with mental health and community services to improve their document production. Paul has an academic background in psychotherapy as well as experience in working within a mental health capacity. For further information please contact him directly on psouthwood@winscribe.com.

[1] The Caldicott Committee. (1997). ‘The Caldicott Report’.

[2] Caldicott, D. (2012). ‘The Information Governance Review: To Share or Not to Share’.

& The Mental Health Foundation. (2013). ‘Starting Today: The Future of Mental Health Services’.

[3] The Mental Health Foundation (2013). ‘Starting Today: The Future of Mental Health Services’.

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