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National Review of mental health crisis prevention in the community finds challenges across Wales

Dedicated staff committed to providing good quality support, however, access to mental health services can be complicated and may mean that people do not always receive timely support.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) has today published its National Review of Mental Health Crisis Prevention in the Community.

Mental Health Crisis Prevention in the Community

HIW explored the experiences of people who access care and treatment, to understand how services help them to manage their mental health conditions and prevent crisis. The review also considered how GPs and other NHS services across Wales provide safe and effective care to help prevent mental health crisis, and what third sector organisations do to support this.

Key Findings

Inefficiencies in process – A key issue highlighted by HIW is the difficulty surrounding direct referral into services. This can result in an individual being caught in a cycle, having to access their GP repeatedly in order to re-commence the referral process. HIW’s review found that referral processes can be complex, leading to potentially lengthy waiting times, during which individuals lack sufficient support. Health boards will need to consider how they can address this gap in provision, strengthening the engagement between GPs and other primary and community care services and secondary mental health services.

Committed staff - Those working within healthcare, emergency and third sector services and across Wales are committed and dedicated to providing support and care to people with mental health needs.

Collaboration - HIW found that third sector organisations can provide invaluable support to individuals, lessening the likelihood of significant or rapid deterioration and easing the demand on NHS services. There are clear opportunities to strengthen collaboration with the third sector in relation to crisis prevention, in particular for those individuals who require a greater level of support than a GP is able to provide.

Single point of access – HIW noted several positive initiatives across Wales, including the implementation of a single point of access. Where this was in place, it ensured that specialist mental health professionals were available to provide clinical triage, onward referral and effective signposting to individuals in crisis. The service is currently being piloted in some health boards as a means of addressing the issue of delayed support resulting from multiple contact and referral points. GPs who had used the service provided positive examples of how this approach had allowed them to contact or refer to the most appropriate mental health team in a timely manner. HIW have made a recommendation that health boards must ensure that single point of access services are implemented across Wales and are accessible to all professionals and the public.

Alun Jones, the Interim Chief Executive of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, said:

I am pleased to be publishing this report which presents the findings from our National Review of Mental Health Crisis Prevention in the Community. In such challenging times, maintaining good mental health and well-being has arguably never been more important. Our work has enabled us to highlight areas of good practice, shine a light on the commitment of staff and identify areas for improvement. In this piece of work we again demonstrate how critical it is that all parts of a health service work together as seamlessly as possible and that opportunities to work with third sector partners are maximised to deliver better outcomes for people who need care and support.

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