Expand Primary Care Treatments available on the NHS for Mental Health - Help Save Lives!

Expand Primary Care Treatments available on the NHS for Mental Health - Help Save Lives!

141 have signed. Let’s get to 200!

Why this petition matters

Started by Paul Harris

"Due to a lack of quality services, more people are likely to reach crisis point, and lives are unacceptably being put at risk." - Right Treatment, Right Time - a report by Rethink Mental Illness 2018

Hi, my name is Paul. 

Through this petition, I want to encourage the NHS to offer a wider range of treatments and therapies for primary mental health care, and to bring parity between how mental illness and physical illness are treated.

Currently, the NHS offers three main types of primary care treatment for common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, which are:

  • Medication.
  • Counselling.
  • CBT and other talking therapies available via Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT).

These are currently the only treatments approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) however, there are numerous drawbacks.  The system is stretched and failing people, which means more of us are reaching crisis point than is necessary.

"It's not known exactly how antidepressants work." - NHS Website

Medication – Has it’s uses, and some people find it helps, however there are numerous, potentially harmful, side-effects, and potential risk of addiction.

Counselling – A limited number of sessions are available.  In my experience it was 10 sessions, which is insufficient.

IAPT – An IAPT report showed that in 2019/20, 1.69 million people were referred to their services; of those referrals 1.17 million people started treatment; 606,192 people completed a course of treatment; 51.1% of people were moved to recovery.  What happens to the 500,000+ people who don’t recover?  The IAPT are also struggling to retain staff. 

When you read reports like The NHS Long-term Plan, the focus is all on expanding IAPT services and a community-based approach (which is literally a postcode lottery).  There is nothing about exploring and researching other therapies.

"An IAPT service manager told us that IAPT is good at what it does: helping people with mild to moderate cases of anxiety and depression. It was not designed for adults who are severely affected by mental illness, older people or those with addictions and there is too little alternative provision for these groups." - Progress of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health: On the road to parity 2018

While the reports say they want to give us choice and the best chance of recovery, the opposite is true.  The current recommendations are all based on what NICE thinks and approves, and their approach is too blinkered, which results in attempting a one size fits all approach.  It does not offer choice to us.

There is no parity between physical health and mental health.  Treatment options for illnesses such as cancer are in place for as long as required, for mental health the limit is to a handful of sessions.  Imagine if you were restricted to 10 sessions of chemotherapy, and once these were complete, you were left on your own, irrespective of whether you were in remission or not?

My experience is that I have exhausted the help offered by the NHS, and I am left on my own to cope with General Anxiety Disorder and Clinical Depression.  I have private, affordable counselling on a weekly basis; however, I am on benefits and struggling to be able to earn money, which means other private treatments are financially out of my reach.  I don’t believe I’m alone.

I have done lots of reading and research to try and help me manage and understand my mental illness, and I have found that there are numerous other treatments that could be beneficial for us, especially those in the early stages of mental illness; these include EFT, meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture, Reiki, Shiatsu, Aromatherapy, massage therapy, forest bathing, reflexology, and many more.  There are also benefits in nutrition and exercise.  

I’m not saying that the current system is not good, it is just being stretched to breaking point, and isn’t helping everyone.  The Government’s solution seems to be to just keep throwing money at it in the hope it comes good.  I believe that by adding the complimentary treatments to the current system then more of us can access the help and support we need, and the chances of recovery are higher.

Why aren’t these therapies and treatments available?  Because NICE only work on ‘evidence-based’ criteria, and they don’t seem interested in exploring any other options.  Sadly, they would rather stick with one option that can have potentially harmful side-effects, and another that only works 50% of the time.  They also seem happy to leave people to suffer.

I believe we should have more choice; a lot of complimentary medicine has less risks than medication.  Yes, it can take longer to see the benefits, but anything must be better than being left to struggle alone.

As well as adding these therapies, I would like to see a dedicated mental health service that is standardised across the NHS; it would include a main hub where people can be referred to, receive a diagnosis quickly, and receive a treatment plan that suits them and their needs (this would include a combination of treatments).  

Each patient would have a record that therapists can access which would reduce the need for patients to keep answering the same questions over and over again, which can be very stressful and difficult; therapists can then add their notes to this record.  Treatments and therapies would be reviewed regularly and changed if needed.  

Each patient would be allocated a support advisor so they can receive proper support to help implement treatments, rather than being left alone to try and manage them by themselves.  It is difficult to change old habits and implement new ones, especially if you have a mental health disorder.  With proper support and care the chances of long-term recovery would be higher.  This could also reduce the pressure on GP's.

By broadening the approach to primary care, the door would be open to an army of trained therapists who could help relieve the pressure on NHS staff.

"There are nearly 80,000 healthcare professionals on accredited registers in the UK, representing a huge workforce with potential to make a significant contribution to promoting and protecting the public’s health" - the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Professional Standards Authority

If action is not taken then more and more of us will reach crisis point, not only does this put more pressure on the NHS, but more importantly, it means that people’s lives are in danger.  

By signing this petition and helping to push the NHS and the Government to expand the care given, you will literally be saving people’s lives.

As part of my evidence gathering for this campaign, I would like to hear about your experience of accessing primary care for mental health via the NHS, so please e-mail me at nhsmentalhealthcampaign@gmail.com (any messages will be confidential, and will only be used as part of this campaign with your permission).

This petition is not about having a go at the thousands of NHS and community-based workers who are working tirelessly to help those struggling with mental illness; it is aimed at the MPs, Executives, and Scientists who pretend they are trying to make a difference, and who think they know what is best for people, but end up restricting our choice of treatments, and, in many cases leaving us to fend for ourselves.

Thank you for your support.  Please share  this petition so together, we can push for change.

141 have signed. Let’s get to 200!