The early prevention of mental health conditions and access to specialist services have been highlighted as crucial aspects of treatment in a survey produced by the Mental Health Taskforce.
The online survey took responses from over 20,000 people on their views on how mental health services are provided in the UK. It found that respondents consistently cited prevention and accessibility as the most important aspects of care, along with integration of services to provide parity between mental and physical health.
Respondents said that prevention and early intervention required greater awareness of mental health conditions in the UK, and particularly in the health service, so at risk patient's can be diagnosed earlier and access the relevant services.
Paul Farmer, the chair of the Mental Health Taskforce and chief executive of mental health charity MIND, said: 'We are hearing calls for a wider range of talking therapies, including suitable options and provision for people with complex needs and access within community/primary care.'
Access to services was another area identified in the survey results. There was concern raised that some patients were not able to see a specialist to address the problem. The responses also revealed that there was a regional variation in the mental health services available to patients. The lack of integration between services, particularly in patients with both mental health and long-term physical conditions, was also raised. The respondents urged health professionals to 'treat the whole person, mind and body'.
Mr Farmer added: 'Overwhelmingly, people want to be treated with hope, dignity and respect. Proposed solutions for this include mental health awareness for all NHS staff, having staff skilled in psychological support across NHS settings and better training and support for GPs, not least in offering alternatives to medication. Overall we will look to reduce the variation in access across the country, reduce waiting times and reducing inequalities.'