Mental health services ‘overwhelmed’, NHS bosses say

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Mental health services in England are struggling to provide high-quality care amid rising demand and workforce shortages, new figures suggest.

A new report by NHS Providers has uncovered several concerns among NHS bosses about the state of mental health care in England, with 80% of those surveyed saying they are worried about investment in mental health services.   

According to the report, increasing demand for care alongside staff shortages are contributing to the growing crisis in mental health care. As a result, many NHS providers feel that people seeking help are not receiving the care they need.

Children and young people appear to be worst affected, with 57% of trust bosses saying they are unable to manage demand from this group of patients. People who seek care at A&E, elderly individuals, and mothers or mothers-to-be are also not receiving adequate care.

Reasons for rising demand cited by survey respondents included ‘the pressures of modern life’ and cuts to community-based mental health support diverting people to A&E.

Speaking to the BBC, Louise Rubin, of the charity Mind, expressed concerns about delays in provision of care for people seeking mental health support.

‘We are concerned that people coming forward and seeking help for mental health problems are not getting the support they need early enough, which means they are more likely to become more unwell and reach crisis point,’ she said.

The report’s finding come at a time when the government is striving to tackle ‘the burning injustice of mental illness’.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said the survey’s findings ‘point to a growing gap between the government's welcome ambition for the care of people with mental health needs and the reality of services they are receiving on the front line’.

The Department of Health (DoH) said it expected NHS England to ensure that funding allocated to mental health services ‘reaches the frontline’.

A spokesperson for the DoH commented: ‘We will continue to push forward change as we reform outdated mental health laws and have created targets to improve standards of care, including ending out-of-area placements by 2020.’