Does the NHS have the Ideal Solution to tackle Mental Health?

It’s Mental Health awareness week this week, so topical to be talking about Mental Health. #MHAW17 to follow discussion online.

And we should all talk about Mental Health. The enlightened and positive work of William, Harry and Kate in this space is to be congratulated.

Still the Neanderthal views exist, as expressed by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain and Social Media this week. “Pull yourself together”, “Man up” – Do we say such things when people break legs playing football, or ribs playing rugby? No, we express sympathy, and “get well soon” – yet Mental Health is somehow viewed as, different.

I’ve lived with Mental Health challenges all of my life. Not me, but close family members around me. Including and for the longest, my mother.

It’s difficult growing up with a mother who has challenges that as a child it’s hard to understand.

It did however make me at an early age sympathetic to those things that are different, that we can’t always put into words, that require understanding, conversation and listening – rather than just a pill, a bandage or a “pull yourself together”.

I remember the unpredictability of her condition was the hardest to deal with. Not knowing what state she would be in.

Announcements this past week of further funding for Mental Health services are to be welcomed, of course they are. However, we should not pretend this is not off the back of years of under investment and cuts.

“Parity of Esteem” between Physical and Mental Health is now “getting there”, but is not yet there. The journey has a long way to go. Investing some of the previously cut money today, and then removing that again in 3 years’ time or playing smoke and mirrors with the money and taking it out of some other funding pot, is not the answer (to any health condition!).

Sustained investment, a reshaping of services to support service users, their families and carers, and an integration of mental health services with physical services (or vice-versa, depending on your start point), to bring mental health services into the high street pharmacy, the local GP practice, the nearest A&E, etc – this is the way to give the greatest, widest and most integrated support – when we all need it – and many of us will during our lives.

And of course, the Mental Health Global Digital Exemplars as part of the GDE programme, offers further evidence of a desire to tackle Mental Health, as physical health has benefited over the years.

Ideal are the sponsors of this series of blogs. There are many solutions that can help improve and modernise mental health services. However, Ideals support for the development of MH Digital Strategy, coupled with unrivaled expertise at then supporting the implementation of that strategy, delivering up front benefits to patients and clinicians, is a strong contribution from them to this debate.

Further than the strategic or practical IT, are the transformational changes needed to deliver redesigned services. It’s not enough to simply “Think Digital” – there is a real need to reshape service delivery, for the modern age. Ideal, with its years of experience, but also a broad range of over 200 associate specialists, can support that transformation.

Weeks such as #MHAW17 give a higher than normal public profile to Mental Health issues and challenges, as does the ambassadorial role of people such as the younger royals.

Whoever promotes understanding around Mental Health, we should all take The Time to Talk….and, listen.

We all have Mental Health issues, just like we all have physical health issues. It’s just a question of whether they negatively impact on our lives, and whether the support will be there, if it does.

Martin Bell

Independent Consultancy in Healthcare, IT and Business

Supporting clients across Health and Social Care including Ideal, the leading Strategic and Implementation IT specialists in the UK.