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Patients call for better mental health provision

Published: 31 Jan 2013

PATIENTS CALL FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH PROVISION WHILE GPs ARE SCEPTICAL THAT ACCESS WILL IMPROVE 

  • Over half the UK population have had a mental health issue at some point in their lives
  • 85% fear that their mental health will deteriorate during long waits for therapy
  • 75% of GPs have to prescribe medication when they feel psychological therapies would be more effective
  • Less than a quarter of GPs believe that access to psychological therapies will improve

While the Government has pledged better access to mental health treatments by 2015, new research by Aviva reveals patients are greatly concerned about the impact long waiting times for treatment could have on mental health conditions.

Four out of five people (85%) surveyed for Aviva’s Health of the Nation1 report are worried that any mental health illness they had would deteriorate if they have lengthy waits for talking therapies such as counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Nearly three-quarters (73%) also say they don’t think the Government and NHS are doing enough to tackle mental health problems.

The majority of patients (51%) feel that a period of 2-3 weeks is the maximum time they should wait for treatment following a referral for counselling or a psychological service, with 29% believing treatment should be accessible within a week.

Over half (52%) of those surveyed for the report said that they have suffered from a mental health condition (e.g. depression, stress, anxiety) at some point in their lives. Of these, 9% still feel unwell and 21% still suffer from their condition from time to time.  Three in five (58%) of those who sought help from their GP for a mental health related issue were prescribed drugs.

The report also highlights GPs’ experiences and concerns over mental health provision in their local area, with four in five GPs (84%) saying there are long2 waiting lists for talking therapies.

Half of GPs (50%) say their local Trust provides a poor service for patients with mental health issues, and 37% believe the service is poor for depression, the most common mental health condition cited by patients at 35%. Over two-thirds of GPs (68%) also feel they don’t get enough support regarding mental health issues.

GPs also express doubts that access to talking therapies such as CBT will improve over the next few years, with over a third of GPs (35%) saying they don’t think access will improve compared to just 23% who believe it will. This is despite the belief by over three-quarters of GPs (77%) that mental health issues will continue to be the single biggest issue they will treat over the next year.

Regional breakdown of GPs reporting long waiting times, use of drugs for mental health treatment as an alternative, increases in numbers of patients with mental health conditions:

GPs reporting long waiting times for talking therapies

 

GPs reporting they are prescribing medication when they believe talking therapies would be more effective

GPs reporting increased number of patients with mental health condition (non stress or anxiety)

Scotland

94%

West Midlands

93%

North East

71%

Wales

92%

Yorkshire & the Humber

92%

Wales

67%

South east

92%

Scotland

88%

West Midlands

64%

East Anglia

92%

North West

86%

South East

62%

North West

86%

Wales

83%

North West

59%

North East

86%

East Anglia

77%

London

57%

West Midlands

86%

South East`

70%

Yorkshire & the Humber

50%

London

83%

London

65%

East Midlands

48%

Yorkshire & the Humber

75%

South West

63%

East Anglia

46%

East Midlands

71%

North East

57%

Scotland

44%

South West

68%

East Midlands

48%

South West

37%

UK average

84%

UK average

75%

UK average

55%

Unsurprisingly, it looks as though the workplace is still having a notable impact on the rise of mental health conditions, with 93% of GPs saying they attribute it directly to a rise in cases of stress. For UK employers, mental health illness is one of the biggest causes of absence. However, there is growing recognition of the benefits of health initiatives such as Employee Assistance Programmes and PMI, which are shown to significantly reduce absence and improve productivity and morale in the workplace.3

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, UK Health, said: “The Government’s commitment to providing quicker access to mental health treatments is extremely welcome, but with such significant and widespread access issues, this will take time to achieve.  Clearly, patients with mental health illnesses need access to the right treatment as quickly as possible to minimise the decline of their health and the impact it has on their lives.

“Aviva’s individual and corporate private medical insurance provides all customers with out-patient cover for psychiatric treatments and a 24 hour stress counselling phone line for advice. In the last year, Aviva customers accessing treatments such as counselling and CBT on average started a treatment plan within a week of making a claim, which we believe is a vital component to the management of - and recovery from - mental health conditions.”

Our private medical insurance cover for individuals and businesses includes access to a 24 hour stress counselling helpline as well as enhanced psychiatric cover as standard.4 At the point of claim, our customers have the support and advice of a dedicated expert clinical team, (including trained psychiatric nurses), to help them manage their claim and psychological treatment plan.

Sources:

1)     Aviva’s Health of the Nation report surveyed 1,000 consumers and 200 GPs in October 2012.

2)     Mind’s campaign for psychological therapies reports that one in five patients with mental health conditions wait over 12 months to access psychological therapies and a third of people wait under six months. Rethink Mental Illness also reports that once a person has been referred for a particular therapy, the waiting times can be anything from 6 months to 2 years (Talking Therapies Factsheet August 2012

3)     Aviva’s Health of the Workplace report (Dec 2012). UK employers who introduced new health benefits last year reported a range of significant and positive impacts, including increased productivity (89%), increased motivation (88%), reduced sickness absence (83%) and improved staff wellbeing (86%).

4)     In recognition of the increased demand for psychological therapies, Aviva’s individual PMI (Healthier Solutions) cover has recently been enhanced to provide more out-patient cover for psychiatric treatment. Customers can now claim up to £2,000 of treatment for psychological treatments per year. Aviva’s large corporate PMI cover, Optimum, (for companies with over 250 employees), allows employers to choose the level of cover they provide for in-patient, day-patient and out-patient psychiatric cover. Aviva’s corporate cover for smaller businesses, Solutions, provides cover for psychiatric out-patient treatment up to a limit of £1,000 per policy year.

 

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