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Greater integrated care required to treat mental health

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Mental health services should be moved into primary care states a new report by the Mental Health Foundation.

After a year-long enquiry into the future of mental health services, the report entitled 'Starting Today', sets out key messages to ensure that facilities address the needs of the UK population in 20-30 years time.

One of the six main recommendations is that services should be primary care led. This will involve psychiatry and other mental health specialists and nurses to establish themselves within a primary care team. It also means that there will need to be greater collaboration across primary and secondary care.

The report also recommends that primary care staff are specifically trained to deal with mental health awareness and identification.

The RGCP has agreed that there is ‘no right model of integration' but there are three approaches that could be taken. The first is ensuring specialist mental health care in primary care settings, the second is providing crisis support in the community and the third is to set up one-stop shops and community support.

Dinesh Bhugra, co-chair of the Inquiry Advisory Panel and President-Elect of the World Psychiatric Association and Professor of Mental Health and Diversity at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London said: 'We cannot expect mental health services simply to muddle along with no clear sense of what is required, and sleepwalk into the future. If we do so, we will be failing all those who in the future need mental health care and their families, as well as the staff who work in mental health services.

‘Failure to provide good, integrated mental health care is not a failure of understanding what needs to be done, it is a failure of actually implementing good practice in organisational strategies and the day to day business of providing people with the care and treatment that they want.' he added.

The Inquiry Panel was made up of senior representatives from a range of professions, alongside mental health service users and carers. It was chaired by Lord Carlile of Berriew and Professor Bhugra. The Inquiry took evidence from over 45 senior figures in mental health across the UK and received more than 1500 responses to its call for evidence.

The full report can be downloaded here: http://mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/

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