World Mental Health Day is celebrated on the 10th of October every year. The purpose of recognising this day is to raise awareness of mental health issues which occur all over the world and encourage an increase in the effort to support mental health through education, advocacy, campaigning, and fundraising.
Placing a focus on the importance of mental health is particularly apt in recent times, as the pandemic has taken a huge toll – it has been found that around 1 in 6 (17%) adults experienced depression in the Summer of 2021. Although this is a decrease compared to 21% in January to March 2021, it is still higher than the pre-pandemic figure of 10%.
There is a significant gap between the number of people who are receiving access to treatment, and the number of people who require care. A 2020 survey found that 44% of respondents who had received NHS therapies in the last 12 months felt they waited too long to receive them and 24% felt they had not seen services often enough to meet their needs.
Mental health and inequality
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health in an unequal world’. People living with a serious mental illness experience some of the worst inequalities, having a life expectancy of up to 20 years less than the general population.
Mind report that:
- People from racialised communities are at a higher risk of developing a mental health problem but are less likely to get support.
- People in the poorest fifth of the population are twice as likely to be at risk of developing mental health problems as those on an average income.
- 1 in 6 young people had a mental health problem in 2020 compared to 1 in 10 in 2017.
- Young people in the lowest income bracket are 4.5 times more likely to experience severe mental health problems than those in the highest.
- 58% of people receiving benefits said that their mental health was poor.
It’s reported that many black-African and Caribbean people, particularly men, do not have access to psychological treatment at an early stage of their mental health problem, and they are 40% more likely than white-British people to come into contact with mental health services through the criminal justice system. Though there have been gradual improvements, the IAPT recovery rate for BAME service users is below that of their white-British counterparts.
It has been found that from July to August 2021, around 1 in 4 adults living in the most deprived areas of England experienced some form of depression compared to 1 in 8 adults living in the least deprived areas. In addition to this, disabled (36%) and clinically extremely vulnerable adults (28%) were more likely to experience depression than non-disabled adults (8%) and adults who were not classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (16%).
What needs to be done?
NHS England published an ‘advancing mental health equalities strategy’ in 2020, which sets out the aims and actions that will be taken to assist communities fairing worse than others in mental health services. These include:
- Directly supporting and funding schemes that address inequalities.
- Developing and using the Patient and Carers Race Equality Framework (PCREF) to support mental health services to improve BAME experiences of care.
- Positive practice in advancing equalities in access, experience and outcomes documented and shared to support collective improvements.
- Learning from specialist community forensic team and women’s pilots in secure care settings shared.
- Provider collaborative impact framework in place, with equalities at its heart.
- Improving the quality and flow of data to national NHS datasets, including the recording of protected and other characteristics attributable to inclusion health groups.
- Using headline measures of mental health equality to monitor change over time and where improvements need to be made.
- Supporting the development of a representative workforce at all levels, equipped with the skills and knowledge to advance mental health equalities.
Mind’s president, Stephen Fry, has called for the government to #FundtheHubs, by investing in a network of early support hubs for young people aged 11-25. These would provide support before crisis point and aid in bridging the gap for the people who aren’t considered unwell enough to receive support from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
Words kindly written by Abie, our Manchester Practitioner
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