An alternative guide to mental health care in England

This content relates to the following topics:

Part of Alternative guides to health care

Article information

  • Posted:Thursday 08 October 2015

Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. The experience will be different for each of us, as will the type of support we need.

But what mental health services are there? And how do they fit in with other health and public services? Watch our animation to find out more. We recommend watching the animation in full screen.

About this animation

Released to coincide with World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October 2015, the animation was produced with input from three experts by experience and advice from a mental health nurse and a senior colleague from a mental health charity.

We recognise that the experiences of the three characters in the film will not reflect those of all mental health service users. Everyone’s needs and experiences of mental health care are different, and the availability and quality of services varies across the country. Our aim was to create something that would demonstrate the range of services available but also highlight some of the issues that need to be addressed.

Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental illness – it’s how we cope with our lives, how we handle situations, relate to others and make choices. It’s about how we think, act and feel.

Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. The experience will be different for each of us, as will the type of support we need.

But what mental health services are there? And how do they fit in with other health and public services? We’re going to follow three people to find out more.

Asif

Asif has diabetes. He manages it with support from the diabetic nurse at his GP surgery – although he doesn’t always find this easy.

His health deteriorates which affects his work and family life. He feels low all the time, and finds it hard to concentrate.

Even though depression is common among people with diabetes, his nurse has little mental health training and doesn’t ask the right questions to spot it. Eventually though, his GP does, and they talk through his choices.

His GP refers him for talking therapy. She also gives him some leaflets and details for a patient group.

The group and the self-help guides help at first, but there’s a waiting list for therapy, and during this time his depression gets worse and he’s signed off work. He’s less motivated to manage his diabetes so his physical health declines.

His GP decides he needs more support and refers him to a specialist diabetes clinic. Ideally, the team there would include mental health professionals and they would draw up a care plan together, but integrated services like this are quite rare. Without this, Asif’s mental health will continue to be treated separately to his physical health even though the two are related.

Alicia

Alicia has started hearing voices. She moved back home after graduating and is feeling overwhelmed by her future. She thinks the TV and radio are talking to her which she finds very distressing.

Her parents do their best to support her but one evening she locks her bedroom door and threatens to harm herself. Her parents don’t know what to do so they take her to A&E.

A psychiatrist decides that she needs to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The team there draw up a care plan, including anti-psychotic medication to help with the voices.

When she’s well enough to be discharged an early intervention team takes over. These teams help young people experiencing their first psychotic episode. They work with Alicia, providing psychological therapy and support to her and her family.

Everything goes well at first. Alicia feels much better. She stops taking the medication because it makes her feel drowsy and she stops attending appointments with the team.

Her mental health deteriorates again. She’s picked up by the police while wandering the streets in a distressed state. They take her to a dedicated place of safety and call for the crisis team. These teams provide intensive support, helping people stay at home rather than go into hospital. They assess Alicia’s needs and visit her at home for a few weeks while she recovers.

She joins a support group run by a local charity, which helps her regain her confidence. With ongoing support, Alicia learns to manage her condition and get on with her life.

Mary

Mary has dementia. Her memory is failing and she gets confused about where she is.

Her husband looks after her, with some help from social services and an older people’s mental health team. Because of this she’s been able to stay living at home.

One day though she has a fall and has to go to A&E. She needs surgery so she’s admitted as an inpatient.

The hospital ward is busy and noisy - an upsetting environment for Mary. After a couple of days a liaison psychiatrist visits her on the ward. She helps staff understand Mary’s condition and what they can do to make her feel comfortable, but it’s still a confusing and distressing place for her.

She returns home, but her husband’s health gets worse and, despite increased support from social services, he’s finding it hard to care for her. The local authority assesses her needs and, with Mary, her husband and family, agree that she should move into a care home.

It’s difficult finding a place in a local care home where the staff are trained to care for people with dementia, but eventually, one becomes available. Mary isn’t better, but she has the care she needs.

Wrap-up

As we’ve seen, mental health covers a range of different conditions and experiences.

People’s needs vary considerably and the services that are meant to support them don’t always work as well as they should. Asif’s depression could easily have gone unnoticed, Alicia could have been caught in a cycle of repeated crises, unsupported by community services, and Mary’s family might never have found a care home able to provide the specialist dementia care she needs.

Just as mental health is part of our overall health, mental health care is an issue for the entire health and social care system – from GPs to hospitals, community services to care homes.

All health and care services need to be designed with mental health in mind, and all health professionals have a part to play helping people get the right support at the right time.

Get the latest news from The King's Fund

Subscribe to our newsletters to keep up-to-date with the world of health and social care and hear the latest news and views from The King's Fund.

Learn more

Comments

Martin Creswell

Position
Associate Director - Communications,
Organisation
North Essex Partnership Universityt NHS FT
Comment date
08 October 2015
This is great, will feature on our web site with link through to animation. Would also like to use in other promotional work. Will give Kings Fund full credit each time. Is that OK?

Regards

Martin

awaters

Position
Digital Communications Assistant,
Organisation
The King's Fund
Comment date
08 October 2015
Hi Martin, 

Thanks for your comment and glad that you like the animation. Yes, that's fine to use it. 

Clare Lyons-Collins

Position
Subject Expert Lead, Mental Health,
Organisation
Monitor
Comment date
08 October 2015
Just love this, thank you.
Can we also post this internally at Monitor? We could also tweet tomorrow.
Clare

George Coxon

Position
Various - care home owner, MHN, commissioning advisor,
Organisation
Various
Comment date
08 October 2015
Really liked the storyboard and true to life stories and pleased Mary almost received timely care! - pity she needed to have a life changing fall before it was provided. Timliness of the right care and support is one of the biggest challenges to a struggling H&SC system. Preserving choice and ensuring good proactive care of the most vulnerable people in our communities is crucial. Prevention of avoidable hospital admissions should see greater connectivity with care homes that are both more conducive to safe and happy living as well as more cost effective too. I will use this animation too with our care home staff and kitemark home members. Brilliant supplement as we approach world mental health day. Great work.

Dawn Hyde

Position
Mom / Carer & Mental Health volunteer,
Comment date
08 October 2015
I'm a MOM , but I'm also called a Carer.
..My daughter has Schizophrenia, she was 18 when she 1st became Mentally Unwell.
She is now 27yrs old.......9yrs so far.....we've done.
I've seen some excellent care in some parts of the Mental Health Service , & in others the need for change & improvement & a different approach.
I started talking to my daughters Mental Health service...having an Honest Conversation, what works & what doesn't ,what needs to change & why.....The Mental Health service in my area has improved - why ...because it started listening to people & included service users & Carer's more in developing Policies Training ,Interviews etc etc.....now it does feel more like OUR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE.
Yes its a difficult time in all of the NHS....yes Mental Health needs more money & the NHS as a whole should be more Mental Health aware across all services...let's face it ...it is 2015.
Xx Dawn

James Higgott

Position
Digital Communications Manager,
Organisation
The King's Fund
Comment date
08 October 2015
Clare - Please feel free to use the video at Monitor. It is freely available for all to use on this website, Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook.

Norma Roberts

Comment date
09 October 2015
I've tried antidepressants, (many different ones),CBT, counseling, even ECT, and nothing really helped with the OCD. The only times it has been subdued, somewhat, is when I had severe agoraphobia, following a very violent relationship, and since I have got older, as I just can't do 4 hour baths anymore!

Most of my life was ruled by this condition, we need cures. Much more research is needed;tablets and "talking about it" just don't hack it for a lot of us!

Moira McLoughlin

Position
Senior lecturer University in nursing education,
Organisation
University of Salford
Comment date
09 October 2015
This is a great resource for teaching thank you - I have tweeted the link to colleagues and students via our school account and also by using a hashtag it will also embed in a safeguarding module I lead. I hope that's okay?

Chris Herbert …

Position
Development Director,
Organisation
Brighter Futures
Comment date
09 October 2015
This is good; really good, and I appreciate that within a short timeframe its not possible to include everything. However it misses the vast and incredible range of services provided by the Voluntary and Community Sector. Imagine the three examples also being in contact, where needed, by housing support, innovative day services like Clubhouse, out of hours telephone helpline, safe spaces (crisis) when other MH provision is closed, arts and music, horticulture and 'men in sheds', gender specific and safe day opportunities, well-being and life skills, volunteering, peer support, work placements.
Actually I could go on but I'm sure you get my drift. Anyway ... come to North Staffs and you can have all those things. Integrated, seamless, community based, recovery focused support for people whose lives are affected by mental ill health.
Any one of our customers can have some, or all of those services. It costs somewhere in the region of £750 - per person, per year.

awaters

Position
Digital Communications Assistant,
Organisation
The King's Fund
Comment date
09 October 2015
Moira - Yes, please feel free to use the video. Thanks very much for sharing it. 

Add your comment