Thousands of people struggling with mental health will get better support

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

More than 95,000 people in Sheffield are struggling with depression or anxiety, a new council report reveals.

Around 17 per cent of the city’s adults have the mental health conditions while over 5,000 more people have a severe mental illness such as psychosis or severe depression.

Demand for the Sheffield Adult Autism and Neurodevelopmental Service is far outstripping capacity with an average waiting time of more than a year.

The figures are revealed in a report by officers Sam Martin and Jim Millns as Sheffield Council launches a new strategy to improve mental health services.

The council will work more closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSC), focusing more on prevention rather than tackling problems after they have worsened.

There will be a holistic approach so people do not have multiple assessments and care plans with different health and social care services.

By joining together it means the costs won’t be “shunted” to the council but will be shared. Services won’t change but will be delivered more efficiently and effectively.

Together the council and the NHS in Sheffield spend around £148 million on mental health services each year.

Of this, around £80 million is spent on services provided by SHSC. The rest is spent on a variety of services provided by other NHS providers, residential and nursing homes and voluntary or community organisations.

The report says: “Without the right help and care, this can lead to lifelong health and social difficulties, impact on families, and prevent people leading independent and fulfilling lives.

“Fragmented and disjointed care can have a negative impact on patient experience, result in missed opportunities to intervene early, and can consequently lead to poorer outcomes.

“Social care and community services are just as essential a part of keeping people well as hospital and nursing services.

“The overarching aim is to address what are, despite the improvements that have been made over the years, some long-standing issues in Sheffield.

“Taking a more holistic approach will strengthen support for people with mental health problems who tend to have more negative experiences and outcomes when they receive health care, and place a disproportionate level of demand on general health services.

“It also helps to focus on the wider causes of mental ill health and develop more preventative services.

“Prevention, in particular, is an important element of the overall programme. If we get this right, this will not only improve the outcomes for individuals but will ultimately deliver financial efficiencies as we will rely far less on secondary health care services. This aspiration underpins the entire programme.”

If mental health conditions can be prevented or managed in the community it puts less pressure on A&E and hospital wards.

The programme aims to help a wide range of people, particularly older people and those with long-term and complex conditions. There will be help for people with dementia, eating disorders, post traumatic stress, severe mental illness, personality disorders and perinatal problems.

There will be work on a service for people with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder and an aim to reduce the amount of antidepressant medication that is prescribed.

A unit will be developed to provide an alternative to A&E and a place of safety for those needing immediate care and attention. It would also provide an informal place to provide ad-hoc and immediate treatment to avoid crisis situations.

Another programme aims to address the fact that two thirds of people with a common mental health problem also have a long term physical health problem, greatly increasing the cost of their care by an average of 45 per cent more than those without a mental health problem.

Families and carers will also benefit from improved coordination between different services.

The report adds: “A key component is an acknowledgement of the enormous contribution families and carers make in terms of providing care and support across the city and so there is a commitment to ensuring that they themselves receive appropriate support as required.

“Caring for carers will be as important to this programme as providing the right clinical care and support.”