Watch this video full-size on Vimeo or read the script below.
Over the past couple of years, people in East and West Suffolk have been working together to improve mental health & wellbeing care and learning disability & autism services in the region.
We’ve used those discussions to plan changes that we think will make things better.
Now, we’re asking you to check the plans.
Here’s a quick overview of what you told us, the changes we’ve planned in response, and examples of how that will affect people living in Suffolk.
One of the things you told us was that you needed to be able to access help quickly and easily.
So, we’ve planned changes that mean that if you’re experiencing mental health difficulties and need help, whichever health, social care or education worker you reach out to they will make sure you get the support you need.
That could be your GP, a nurse, a social care professional, a 111 call advisor, a member of your community team, or even a support worker in your school.
There’ll be no wrong door when you’re seeking help.
Whoever you choose to speak to will know what to do next, and will act quickly to make sure you get the help you need.
For example, Areeb has been managing his bi-polar with medication for the past 20 years. Recently, Areeb has been well and has not had to see his community team for over two years.
However, Areeb started noticing some early warning signs, like talking quickly and increased activity levels, so he reached out to his GP for some help.
Areeb’s GP does not need to make a referral for Areeb to speak to a specialist, as she’s able to speak to a consultant psychiatrist directly. The psychiatrist gives the GP some advice on medication changes. This means that Areeb doesn’t have to speak to a second person or retell his story.
At Areeb’s six-week review, his GP notices that Areeb is continuing to struggle, so arranges for him to be reviewed by a mental health specialist.
Areeb is able to access these specialist services quickly, and within 3 months his moods have stabilised and he is able to continue to manage his condition with the help of services in his community.
The children, young people and families that we spoke to told us that they wanted to be able to access support in a variety of different settings.
So, we’ve planned for mental health support to be easily available in lots of different places – not just doctors’ surgeries, but also schools and colleges.
They also told us that transitioning to adult services can often be challenging. So, we’ve made as many services as possible available to young people from 0- 25.
For example, Sarah is 14-years old and over the past few months has started to worry about going to school. Her parents and the school are unsure why – Sarah isn’t being bullied or struggling with the work. However, Sarah’s mental health declines and she is now having panic attacks and very rarely manages a full day at school. She’s also struggling to sleep and had a reduced appetite.
Sarah’s mum called the GP surgery and makes an appointment with the mental health nurse, Sharon. Sharon is kind and listens to Sarah. Together, they identify Sarah’s head of school year, Mr Thompson, as a person she trusts and feels she can talk to.
Sharon works with Mr Thompson to support Sarah with her anxiety, and continues to meet with Sarah in a setting she feels comfortable with to discuss how she’s getting on. Sarah now feels less anxious about going into school, and knows who she can reach out to for support.
Also, people who have lived experiences of learning disability and/or autism told us that it’s sometimes difficult to access healthcare, because they can have different needs to other service users.
To combat this, we’re planning to support all healthcare teams to understand how to make reasonable adjustments. This will ensure that all patients can access the healthcare they need.
For example, David is nervous of healthcare settings and afraid of needles. David’s carer, Anna, is worried that David won’t attend his Annual Health Check. After a quick call to David’s GP surgery, the practice team has ensured that David will get a longer appointment slot. David’s GP also calls him before the appointment to talk David through what will happen when she sees him.
David is reassured and decides to attend his appointment. David’s GP now also has plenty of time to allay David’s worries, and David can take the appointment at his own pace.
People who engaged with us also told us that when experiencing mental health crises, they need to be able to get support quickly.
We have now introduced a dedicated mental health crisis helpline.
Because of the increased demand caused by coronavirus, we had to do this quickly.
However, in the future, we’re planning to make this even easier, by introducing ‘111 option 2’ instead – an easy-to-remember number that is familiar to people.
Our vision is that people who call 111 and press option 2 will get through to a trained mental health team member who will make sure they get the support they need.
For example, Alice is has recently finished her A Levels and is feeling overwhelmed by her future. She has begun to hear voices and 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 herself in her room and threatens to harm herself. Her parents recognise that Alice is having a crisis so contact the Crisis First Response Service telephone line.
The person who answers the call offers Alice and her parents some immediate advice and support whilst arranging for a specialist crisis response team to contact Alice.
Within 4 hours Alice is being supported by a specialist crisis professional who assesses her needs and provides intensive support to Alice in her own home. With input from Alice and her parents they draw up a care plan, including anti-psychotic medication to help with the voices.
Alice’s care plan means she now has access to interventions that will support her and her family’s needs whilst she recovers. With support, Alice learns to manage her condition and get on with her life.
We hope these proposed changes will mean that people in east and west Suffolk will be able to get the help and support in the right place for them, when they need it, to stay mentally and emotionally well.
Now it’s back to you.
We want to know if you think we’ve got things right. We’d love it if you took a few minutes to let us know.
Visit our website to get more information and complete the survey.
If you’ve got any questions about mental healthcare in East & West Suffolk, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.