Regulation Needed for Independent Mental Health Practitioners

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My name is Dr Damian Wilde and I'm a Chartered Clinical Psychologist who provides psychotherapy, consultancy, and teaching for the NHS and privately. I work with some wonderful clients and I am passionate about people being able to access a safe, containing space to explore themselves and their experiences, which hopefully leads to a better quality of life.

When clients experiencing emotional and psychological distress work with my colleagues and I, they are protected beyond us through regulatory bodies. So as well as being able to communicate with an employer e.g. NHS Trust about something they are unhappy about with regards to their care, they can also complain to regulatory bodies such as The Health & Care Professions Council and The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Government run mental health and social-care services are also regularly inspected through The Care Quality Commission (CQC). This regulation helps protect members of the public, particularly vulnerable people.

However, independent mental health practitioners can set up without the suitable qualifications and experience, hiring staff who may not have Disclosure and Barring Service clearance, use methods which are not effective, and if a client wants to make a complaint about any aspect of the care - there is nobody to go to and this is because there is no regulation of independent practitioners, nor is there any form of monitoring and inspection, which would normally occur through The CQC. Anybody can just set up, say for example, as a 'Depression Coach', charge £100 per session and if a client was unhappy with the care provided, there is nobody for them to communicate this to and nobody to monitor the care on offer.

My colleagues and I are aware of some independent practitioners who promise what cannot be delivered. For example, some anxiety practitioners may state untruthful claims such as 'my method cannot fail, it is 100% effective, and I will cure your anxiety permanently within hours'. To a vulnerable person experiencing severe anxiety, this may be tempting and they may be drawn in to part with their money, often significant amounts. We are also aware that when such methods have not been effective, they are blamingly told they 'did not do it right'. Any subsequent negative reviews are met with threats of the police or solicitors. This of course leads to people becoming even more distressed, which is very saddening to hear about. I have heard such stories from distressed people, time and time again, it has to stop and we will campaign until there is change.

With many people experiencing significant levels of distress, it is imperative that vulnerable people are protected. The change which I and many others (colleagues and members of the public) would like to see and feel is urgently needed, is inspection, regulation, and monitoring of anybody who offers a service for people experiencing mental health problems. As well as monitoring and regular inspection of such practitioners/services, clients should have someone they can contact with concerns, without fear of reprisal. Also, there should be set standards for someone being able to set up a service, for example, recognised qualifications. If a practitioner does not register with the relevant regulatory body, then prosecution should follow.

Let us protect vulnerable people!

Please sign this petition and spread it far and wide as it is extremely important. Let's get the signatures we need, let's do this.

Thank you - Damian

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