Living with mental illness
Below is a description of the way the NHS currently looks after people (in this case an imaginary man called 'Mike') with mental health problems, and a broad outline of how this could change in future. The description only gives you a general picture of the future - exactly how the NHS will change is not yet decided, and that is where you can help.
As you read the text below, please think to yourself: are there any changes you strongly want to see? Do you have any particular concerns? Is there anything that you feel is missing? Then please click the link at the bottom of the page to quickly tell us your thoughts.
The NHS now:
Mike feels as if he has had mental health problems for some time – he has not had to go to hospital because of his illness, but there have been times when his depression and anxiety have made it a huge struggle to maintain his work and home life. His mental health is a constant issue for him – normally he manages to continue with his life, but sometimes that is very difficult.
Currently, Mike feels that the NHS does not always offer him useful support – he may have long waits to see someone, and he feels that the help he does get is not enough. Sometimes Mike feels as if the NHS is acting as a barrier, stopping him getting in touch with the people who can help, rather than helping him to get the help he needs, when he needs it.
The NHS in the future:
The NHS aims to bring most mental health services more closely together with physical health services.
The local NHS would build stronger teams of staff working in communities, near to people’s homes, and those expanded teams would include both mental health staff and peer supporters.
Mental health staff would work together with GPs, nurses, pharmacists, physios, and hospital staff, so that Mike’s mental health care would not be part of a separate discussion by different teams – it would be part of the NHS conversations about his overall health, not just one part of it.
If Mike feels he is struggling and needs extra support, he does not need to be referred to a separate organisation and then wait for an appointment. Instead his needs can be considered by an NHS team which is already in touch with him, and know his history.
Such a future could mean that NHS support can be agreed, and organised, more quickly than now. It should also mean that people like Mike can have more contact with peer supporters – people who have experience of mental illness themselves – who can offer essential, non-NHS support.
What do we need to know before this broad outline starts to turn into specific plans?
Please click here to tell us.