MENTAL HEALTH: Tamworth services
Tamworth BC meeting 23/09/21
Members of Tamworth Borough Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee have called on NHS bosses to increase awareness of mental health services that are available in the area.
There was also a suggestion that joining forces with other areas to produce a national tv campaign could help get the message out to the public.
At the meeting on Thursday, there was a presentation from Upkar Jheeta, head of primary care development and mental health lead at the NHS Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MPFT).
A video at the start of Mr Jheeta’s presentation stated: “The NHS long term plan promised an ambitious transformation for community mental health.”
It went on to explain that the project seeks to provide a new, integrated model for mental health care over the next three years.
The presentation highlighted that patients with severe mental illness need services that continue beyond treating their symptoms and illness.
It went on to say that ‘baffling admin’ and long waiting times can sometimes mean patients giving up because they’re too exhausted.
The new model, launched in April, aims to provide a person-centred approach to care, considering both a person’s physical and mental health.
It brings together primary and secondary care as well as integrating health and social care services.
It also sets out a requirement for local authorities to offer better access to social care, housing, drug and alcohol services and financial advice.
A common theme among councillors’ questioning centred around promoting what is available to ensure people know they can get the support they need.
Cllr Harper said: “The problem we have in Tamworth is the perception that there is no-one out there [to help them].”
He said: “We refer them to Citizens Advice, who often don’t have the right answers.”
There was also a concern that it didn’t appear as if there were services available for people in Tamworth.
Cllr Sheree Peaple said: “We feel in Tamworth we’re not getting the services locally.”
She added: “Providing services locally for people with mental health problems really is key because if you’re feeling depressed, down, anxious, you’re not going to get on three buses to find services.”
Mr Jheeta explained that some organisations, such as Burton Mind, deliver services in Tamworth despite their name suggesting otherwise.
Cllr Harper said this may deter some people.
“Using the Burton moniker alienates any service to Tamworth people because they regard Burton as a long way away and it’s hard to get to.
“People have got to know that these facilities are available and that they can help, and that there are people who are willing to look after whatever issues they’ve got.”
The committee’s chair, Cllr Claymore said: “It’s been raised, I think, at every meeting I’ve been at of the Health and Wellbeing committee.
“We need to communicate it to people. If we say ‘Burton Mind’ their perception is that they need to go to Burton.
“I think it’s very important that whatever communication goes out does focus on the local places where people can access these services from.”
Mr Jheeta responded that MPFT has recruited a communication specialist for the project, and they are exploring different ways of communicating – including newsletters, social media and podcasts.
They’re also hoping to use radio, because this is something service users are known to actively engage with.
Word of mouth is a key part of the strategy as well, alongside traditional methods such as posters and leaflets.
Cllr Harper said: “The internet has become the first port of call for everyone.
“It’s easy, it’s cheap and it gets to a wide audience – but it misses some of the most important people you’re trying to engage with.”
He added: “People feel alone, and abandoned, and they need to know you’re there.”
Words: Richard Price, Local Democracy Reporter
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