Access to NHS emergency healthcare should be a given. However, the findings of an investigation revealed today by mental health charity Mind, show that crisis care for people with mental health problems can not only be poor quality, but difficult to obtain in any form.
People who experience mental health emergencies report difficulties accessing care, ranging from phone lines not being answered to crisis teams taking days to reach them and hospital beds not being available.
Mind's investigation involved asking hundreds of patients and professionals about support needed in a crisis situation. As well as learning that crisis services are lacking, or struggling to meet demand, another finding was that, where patients thought their mental health was deteriorating, they wanted help to avert a crisis.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, with more than a million people using crisis and secondary specialist mental health care every year. Poor mental health can be more common among patients with disabilities and long-term health problems, so nurses working with these patients in a practice or community setting should monitor their mental, as well as physical, health.
Nurses can support patients by knowing about, and signposting, local services and systems for accessing crisis support. Mental Health First Aid Training is an excellent tool that will allow you to talk confidently about mental health, while providing initial de-escalation techniques if faced with someone who is in a mental health crisis.
Mind has also produced a guide for practice nurses entitled Supporting people with depression and anxiety where you can find out how to support people to stay out of crisis.
Nurses can play a valuable part in ensuring the signs of mental health crisis are recognised early, and kept at bay.
To access the full investigation findings, visit www.mind.org.uk/crisiscare
- Alison Cobb - Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer, Mind