Listening to experience
I needed a safe place – somewhere I could not seriously harm myself until I recovered emotionally. I also needed to feel that someone actually cared about me…
Crisis and acute mental health services provide for people when they are at their most unwell and vulnerable.
Between Autumn 2010 and Summer 2011, Mind’s independent inquiry heard evidence from 400 service users and professionals in relation to acute mental healthcare in England and Wales.
Excellent acute and crisis care exists. We heard about:
- innovative services that were easy for people to access
- courteous and helpful staff
- well designed, therapeutic environments
- teams with a can-do spirit and approach
Many people told us they had poor and even traumatic experiences and said services should not be:
- leaving people with urgent mental health needs isolated, frightened and unsupported
- traumatising those who use services
- giving people a sense of abandonment when they try to use services
- ‘managing’ those with acute care needs in some of the worst hospital environments in the NHS
- discriminatory, treating some groups more neglectfully or coercively than others.
To give people the crisis care they need, when they need it we need to concentrate on four areas:
Action is needed to ensure that acute care is built on humane values and embodies a culture of service and hospitality so people can be treated in a warm, caring and respectful way.
Commissioning for people’s needs
People’s needs and home circumstances are different and they way services are delivered must reflect this diversity. For example, different services may be needed in rural and urban areas.
Choice and control
We urgently need more direct ways to get help. This means that people can self-refer. There should be an explicit acknowledgement that people themselves know how they need to be treated. People should have more say over what happens to them.
Reducing the medical emphasis in acute care
The things people said they need in a crisis – care, safety, someone to listen, something to do – did not need to be delivered by a doctor. They play a valuable role, but this does not mean that they should deliver all of the care.