Survey of users of community mental health services

Via the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission has published results of the 2011 survey of people who use community mental health services. The results are set to play an important role in the government’s new mental health outcomes strategy.

The experiences of more than 17,000 people who use services across the 65 NHS mental health trusts in England are reflected in the survey, which asked them questions about their care during the past 12 months.

They received care and support from mental health services outside hospital, such as those offered by outpatient clinics and local teams providing crisis home treatment, assertive outreach, early intervention for psychosis, and generic community mental health services.

The results of the 2011 community mental health survey suggest there is scope for involving people more in aspects of their care, such as care planning and medication. For instance, less than half said they “definitely” understood their care plan, while more than a quarter of those who were prescribed new medication said they were not told about the possible side effects.

One of the specific objectives of the national mental health strategy is to ensure that more people with mental health problems enjoy good physical health. Of those with physical health needs who responded to the survey, many said they would have liked more help. Thirty-five per cent had “definitely” received support in getting help with their physical health needs and 34% had “to some extent”, but 31% said they had not received any support, although they would have liked it.

The national strategy places a strong emphasis on early intervention – through identification and referral by GPs – linked with expanding people’s access to psychological therapies such as talking therapies. Thirty-nine per cent of those who responded to the survey had received talking therapy during the past year, but 47% said their mental health or social care worker had not discussed talking therapy with them in the past 12 months.

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