Mental health staff increasingly dealing with ‘vicious cycle’ of patients’ wider problems during clinical time

by | 16 April 2018 | Citizens Advice, Retford, Worksop

Eight out of 10 mental health staff said that dealing with a patient’s practical issues, left them with less clinical time to treat their mental health issues, Citizens Advice has found. Over half (57%) reported the proportion of time they are spending on non-health issues has increased compared to last year.

Citizens Advice conducted a survey of 244 mental health practitioners who deliver NHS England’s Talking Therapies programme. These services provide treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in England.

Nearly all (98%) respondents said they had dealt with a patient’s non-health problems during an appointment in the past month. The most common problems mental health staff are assisting with are debt and money problems, unemployment and work, housing and welfare. Mental health staff reported these problems had a negative impact on their patients’ ability to manage their mental health, complete a course of treatment and ultimately recover. More than half of those surveyed reported increased stress as a result of dealing with these non-health problems.

Mental health staff reported they have spent appointment time helping patients with these problems through:

  • budgeting or debt management plans
  • contacting public services/agencies of the patient’s behalf
  • providing supporting letters
  • assisting patients to complete benefits applications
  • contacting creditors on the patient’s behalf

Citizens Advice helped over 100,000 people who reported having a mental health problem in 2017.
Citizens Advice data shows clients with mental health problems are more likely to face multiple, complex problems compared to the average client. In 2017, clients with mental health problems had an average of 5.3 issues per client, compared to 3.8 problems per client overall. In the past two years, Citizens Advice has seen an increase in the number of clients with mental health problems, including an 11% increase in those who require advice on benefits.

Citizens Advice is calling for advice services to be integrated in more mental health settings to alleviate the pressure on frontline mental health staff and to better support the needs of people with mental health problems.
For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Bassetlaw telephone service on 03444 111 444 (available Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 4.00pm).
Drop-in service based in:

The Annexe, Queens Building, Potter Street, Worksop (next to the Savoy Cinema)
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