Thinking about the future
Mental health is often overlooked and underestimated as to its effects on our overall health and wellbeing. Mental illness is more common than people think. Whether it’s very mild of very severe, 1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health condition in any given year. Poor mental health can have an effect on all aspects of our life. These can include obtaining qualifications and obtaining and staying in work (which results in lower income/unemployment) as well as problems in maintaining our physical health. Higher rates of health risk behaviours, such as drinking alcohol, misusing drugs and smoking can contribute to poor physical health, as well as poor diets and a lack of physical activity, though the reasons for this are complex. Mental illness also has an economic impact in terms of health service, social care and sickness absence costs (1).
The earlier someone with mental illness seeks the help and support that they need, the less severe the impacts on their life. A crucial element in addressing the impact of mental illness is therefore effective diagnosis. Often mental health conditions go undiagnosed which results in people not receiving the support that they need to recover. How can we find out if diagnosis rates are low? Well, if we take depression as an example, we measure the lack of diagnosis by comparing the number of people diagnosed with depression with the number of people who anonymously report that they are depressed off the record. Fortunately in Bracknell Forest, the data suggests that diagnosis rates for depression are excellent. The number of people who are diagnosed with depression is much higher than the national average (2) even though self reported prevalence in surveys is lower than the national average (3).
Once a person has been diagnosed with mental illness they can be appropriately treated with the intention of making a full recovery, which, evidently, is another important part of addressing mental health. In Bracknell Forest, the rate of recovery among those accessing talking therapies (IAPT) is significantly higher than the national average (4). In addition, the rates of emergency admissions for depression, schizophrenia and self harm (which indicate poorly managed conditions) are all lower than the national average (5).
Social outcomes for people with mental illness also show good results in Bracknell Forest. In Bracknell Forest the proportion of people on the Care Programme Approach (CPA) (6) in employment is higher than the national average, as is the proportion of people on CPA who are in settled accommodation (7).
Looking after our mental health is important throughout our lives, but none more so than during childhood. Mental health in childhood often shapes our adult mental health. Nationally, around half of those with a mental illness in adulthood first experienced problems before age 14, with that figure rising to 75% experiencing problems before age 20. (7)
Many services are currently in place for children in Bracknell Forest and we pride ourselves on the range and quality of services available. Available services include behavioural and emotional support, anti-bullying, youth line counselling, family services and many more.
We are also looking more closely at how children access mental health support. It became clear that children wanted to access services from the comfort of their own home or even using their mobile phone over the web. For this reason the Mindfull pilot has now started in Bracknell Forest which offers children early support through an online counselling platform. The project aims to make access to support easier and more convenient.
(1) No health without mental health, Department of Health, 2011
(2) Quality and Outcomes Framework, NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre reported in PHE Mental Health Dementia and Neurology profiles
(3) GP patient survey, NHS England, reported in PHE Mental Health Dementia and Neurology profiles
(4) Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Dataset, reported in PHE Mental Health Dementia and Neurology profiles
(5) Hospital Episode Statistics, reported in PHE Mental Health Dementia and Neurology profiles
(6) The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is the system which coordinates the care of many specialist mental health service patients. CPA requires health and social services to combine their assessments to make sure everybody needing CPA receives properly assessed, planned and coordinated care
(7) Children & Young Peoples Health Outcomes Forum, 2013