‘Tipping point’ reached in mental health crisis

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A report compiled by the Mental Health Network warns that sometimes doctors cannot find acute mental health assessment beds anywhere in England.

This shortage is contributing to high A&E attendances by people with mental health problems, according to the report, which also announced ‘concerns’ that government money promised for the problem is failing to reach the front-line.

The Mental Health Network report refers to recent findings that community crisis teams are encountering increased numbers of suicides, warning that only half of community teams offer a round-the-clock crisis service.

It also says that people with a mental health problem have reported contact with at least 3 different services when experiencing a crisis, and that mental health crisis care needs to be ‘a priority area for transformation’.

Chair of the Network, Bev Humphrey, said: ‘Mental health crisis care is at a tipping point and there are sometimes no routine acute or assessment beds available anywhere in the country. The provision of mental health liaison services in A&E departments and seven-day working in community services remains patchy and underdeveloped. What would be unacceptable for physical illness should not be acceptable for people with mental health problems.

‘This is a national scandal and the impact on individuals and their families can be huge. These are distressing and damaging situations where people’s mental health can go from bad to worse.

‘Clinical decision-making is being compromised due to resource shortages and frontline care teams are too often being left to hold the risk.’

She added: ‘A combination of slow funding, increased demand and systemic complexity are heaping immense pressure on mental health crisis care. There is a gap between the rhetoric of government and the ongoing lack of material support reaching frontline services.’