The Voicing views project has always been actively involved in understanding the existing mechanisms, networks and organisations which already support, develop, and connect the Charity sector organisations to the Integrated Care board (ICB) to ensure the local communities service users Mental Health needs are seamlessly met.
In late 2022 the first Wandsworth Mental Health needs assessment was undertaken in over a decade, and It’s fair to say the Mental Health landscape has changed significantly since the last one.
During this time the nation’s economic climate has changed, and we are now living in the era of ‘Permacrisis’ driven by Brexit, The Covid-19 Pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis.
The Covid-19 Pandemic heightened risk factors associated with poor mental health – unemployment, insecurity, and fear – whilst simultaneously depriving individuals of the usual coping mechanisms to mitigate this uncertainty, including social connection, daily routines, physical exercise and attendance at school or work. This has led to a significant and unprecedented worsening of the population’s mental health.
Faced with all these debilitating future defining events it’s of no surprise Substance abuse and Mental Ill health accounts for 21.3% of the total burden of disease in England. The estimated cost to the UK is £118 billion a year, equivalent to 5% of the GDP.
On a positive note, the past decade has seen the profile of Mental Health go from being synonymous with the pariahs of society, to a more acceptable term for most members of society who are struggling to cope with adverse life experiences, although some negative preconceptions still exist.
The aim of the Mental health needs assessment is to:
- Understand the level of mental health need across Wandsworth borough and how this being met by services.
- Inform policy and commissioning intentions for mental health services over the next 5 years.
The objectives of the assessment are as follows:
- Estimate the scale of mental health need in the Wandsworth population, including in groups at increased risk of mental ill health.
- Estimate levels of unmet mental health need.
- Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the Wandsworth population and whether any specific groups have been disproportionately affected.
- Develop recommendations for more effective and efficient services that better meet the mental health needs of the population.
The needs assessment covered the following cohorts
- Childhood and adolescence (0-19)
- Working age and adults (16-64)
- Older people aged 65+
Having been given the opportunity to work directly with Stakeholders across the borough there has always been demand for services to adopt a needs-led approach rather than the historic approach of diagnosis followed by a specific support pathway. The Needs assessment echoes this but also looks at ways to ensure service users remain pivotal to the Wandsworth Community Mental Health transformation in the coming years.
Amongst a multitude of changes required is the need for ‘eco pods’ across the borough that allow for service users to be supported in more community-based settings without losing the expertise or dynamism they may get in other parts of the borough.
This is an important document which identifies the considerable range and scale of the mental health issues facing our community and sets the scene for the planning of services over the coming years.
Through the report there are many common themes like the effects of Covid-19 on services, Waiting times, Increased prevalence, limited resources, and limited time to support service users.
The one common theme which is missing which resonates with Voicing views, is through all the events of the last decade it is mainly the Charity based organisations that have been able to quickly pivot and adjust from one crisis to another and have still been able to engage and sustain a good level of mental health and wellbeing for the community they serve.
The Wandsworth Mental Health Needs Assessment is available to read at: