Healthwatch Lambeth reports on GP support for mental health problems
During autumn 2016 Healthwatch Lambeth conducted a series of surveys of GP practices in the borough to report on people's experiences of talking to their GP about their mental health, the availability of mental health information in waiting rooms and on GP practice websites. The reports were published a couple of weeks ago and were featured in the South London Press along with a response from the CCG.
We spoke to Anna Jones, mental health engagement lead at Healthwatch Lambeth, to find out what they hope the reports will help to achieve.
"The reports presented a mixed picture of care and support for people with mental health problems. Some patients felt supported and understood when they discussed their health issues, others reported feeling ignored or misunderstood and even isolated. We're hoping that highlighting these issues will help to address the stigma around talking about mental health problems and encourage people to get support earlier rather than waiting for a crisis.
"There should be a standardising of mental health training for GPs and more GP awareness of the various services available in the borough, particularly as some practices only flagged national organisations. This is as good for the GP as well the patients as it takes the pressure off the GP if they know where they can refer someone. But in addition there does need to be more information for patients.
"We're hoping that our work on this will lead to a more logical approach to information displayed in GP waiting from and on their websites. Mental health information needs to be more visible and more accessible.
"Many patients had very good experiences with their GPs but there is still room for lots more and there needs to be much more consistency in the standard of treatment offered in the borough. At present it depends on which GP a person sees as to what treatment they will be offered.
"As a result of our reports we hope GPs will start to see their services from the patient's viewpoint."
The reports on Seeking mental health support from a GP form part of a larger scheme of work at Healthwatch Lambeth looking at services for mental health in different sectors and for specific groups. This includes community based care, accommodation, employment and clinical services and support for black African and Caribbean teenage boys.
The summary and full reports from Healthwatch Lambeth are here.
Our response to Healthwatch Lambeth's report is below.
CCG response to Healthwatch MH surveys.pdf