'90% of practitioners in Wales are routinely asked about practical problems'

RCPsych Wales recently partnered up with Citizen’s Advice Cymru to explore the potential links between various day-to-day practical issues (money, debt, housing & employment) and their mental health implications.

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau provides support and advice to people in over 500 health settings across England and Wales, and they report that mental ill health is the most common health issue affecting people who go to them for help.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales recently partnered up with Citizen’s Advice Cymru (CAC) to explore the potential links between various day-to-day practical issues (money, debt, housing & employment) and their association with mental health.

We wanted to explore how mental health issues impacted on peoples’ ability to manage the practical aspects of their daily lives. We also wanted to understand how lack of support to cope with these practical issues can affect a person’s mental health. The research captured what types of practical problems that were affecting people were raised with clinicians, and what kind of response people received from these queries. The research also examined how this the issue impacted on clinicians’ ability to offer treatment and what the effects were in terms of demands on services.

 

The research aimed to:

  • Establish whether patients raised practical problems with clinicians
  • Understand how clinicians responded when a patient presented them with a non-clinical issue
  • Assess how patients’ practical problems impact upon their experience of care
  • Look at how patients’ practical problems impacted on their mental health / recovery from periods of being unwell Previous data gathered by CAC showed that 49% of their own clients in Wales have a long-term health condition or disability (with the most common being issues with mental health).

 

57 clinicians across Wales responded to a tailored survey, with all confirming they were spending increasing amounts of time helping people resolve practical day-to-day issues.

The survey also found that:

  • 90% of clinicians stated their patients were raising practical problems at their appointments
  • 50% of clinicians felt that they were spending more time than in previous years dealing with non-health related issues as part of appointments
  • 90% of clinicians said these practical problems led to patients being unable to manage their mental health, plus created a barrier to their recovery

 

Supporting people who experience issues mental health issues and associated practical problems is essential. There have been some great examples across Wales and England of how offering practical advice in mental health services and health settings can really help people. This includes setting up satellite advice services within healthcare establishments, and generally encouraging clinicians to be as proactive as possible.

For further information on this research, please contact Ollie John (RCPsych Wales Manager)