Trying to connect: The importance of choice in mental health services
During the pandemic, mental health services had to change how they provide support to help stop the spread of coronavirus. We need to learn what did and didn't work so that we can make sure everyone gets the support that’s right for them.
“I have much preferred the phone sessions, as getting out of the house to attend face-to-face appointments has always been difficult and was the main reason I hadn’t sought help earlier.”
We surveyed over 1900 people about their experiences of getting support for their mental health from the NHS by phone or online. It really worked for some people, but for some of us, it didn't. At times, it could even have a negative impact on our mental health.
“I don't have a space where I feel safe to talk about what I need to, as I am worried other people in the house will hear.”
We might not have the technology, Wi-Fi or confidence to use services in this way. Even for those of us able to use the technology, using services by phone or online may not work for us. We might fear being overheard by family members or housemates. Or we might not feel able to connect with someone through a computer screen.
“The online course didn't feel personalised. It felt like I was accessing it in my own time, with very little support or guidance. I felt the messages I got from my supporter through the programme were very much copied and pasted. I felt alone.”
At Mind, we've been campaigning for years for more say over how we are treated for our mental health problems. Now more than ever, people need choice in how they receive these services too. Whether face to face, by phone or online, or a combination. Delivering services by phone or online cannot be seen as a simple answer for overstretched mental health services.
We've outlined a range of recommendations for England and Wales below.
We'll be using these findings to work with policymakers and service providers to make sure that we all get a choice in how we receive mental health support.