Studies show that almost one in three people experience mental health issues at some stage in their life. In 2017 alone, 1.4 million people were referred to NHS mental health therapy services.
It has been acknowledged that COVID-19 has taken a toll on the population’s mental health, and is becoming an increasing global concern. A study by the Lancet revealed that by April 2020, mental health in the UK deteriorated in comparison to pre-COVID-19 trends. Any policies that emphasise the needs of women, young people and those with young children are likely to play an important role in this time.
1 in 5 women experiences perinatal mental health problems – most commonly depression and anxiety. In February 2018, NHS England pledged an extra £23 million to improve perinatal mental health services. This funding is part of a wider programme to provide access to an additional 30,000 women receiving specialist mental health care by 2021.
As a result of additional funding, assessment and care for perinatal women with complex and severe mental health issues are carried about by a specialist community of Doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists
It’s estimated that an extra £30 million goes into funding eating disorder services a year.
In February 2019, NHS England announced that patients with diabulimia, in which patients with diabetes restrict their insulin intake to lose weight, will have access to therapy for social media and body image. This was part of a pilot scheme, fitting in with the NHS Long Term Plan to change mental health treatment with a focus on children and young people.
Claire Murdoch (National Director for Mental Health) claimed that NHS England was on track to achieve their goal of treating 95% of all children and young people diagnosed with an eating disorder within one week for urgent cases and four weeks for routine cases by 2020/21. However, a report from the Nuffield Trust revealed that as of December 2020 the percentage of children and young people requiring urgent treatment receiving that treatment within one week had fallen to 70.5%.
Many patients can’t get a bed in a mental health hospital that is close to their homes. According to NHS figures, in 2016-17 almost 6,000 mental health patients were sent out of their local area to receive care – a rise of 40% in two years.
In March 2019 it was announced that the NHS would test a pilot scheme for patients in A&E presenting with mental health issues in order to ensure access to quick care.
In April 2019, NHS England reported that new and expectant mothers now have access to healthcare across England following a rollout of specialist mental health services. This is the first time there are specialist services in each of the 44 local NHS areas.
In October 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced that a further £15 million would be put towards strengthening mental health services for nurses, therapists, paramedics, pharmacists and support staff. This includes:
The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, published in 2016, secured an additional £1 billion in funding for mental health. In 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan made a renewed commitment that mental health services will grow faster than the overall NHS budget, with a ring-fenced investment worth at least £2.3 billion a year for mental health services by 2023/24.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in 2018 that it would potentially take “a generation” to achieve parity between mental health and physical health services.
While you may not be asked questioned directly related to mental health and the impact on NHS patients and staff, it is a topic you can bring up when asked other interview questions, such as these:
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