Citizen Advice Torridge, North, Mid and West(TNMW) Healthwatch Champion, Sam Scott has been raising awareness of mental health issues faced in Devon for World Mental Health Day, which takes place on 10 October 2019.
16% of people that Healthwatch Champions from Citizens Advice Devon worked with, said they had a mental health disability. The main issue that people needed support with was the quality of diagnosis, care or treatment. Other main issues of support were around the Mental Health Act and mental health support planning.
The main theme for World Mental Health Day this year is suicide prevention. Every year close to 800000 people take their own life around the world and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.
Sam Scott, Healthwatch Champion for Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon, says:
“Mental health is an extremely important issue in Devon. People I have worked with have highlighted how they struggle to find information about the support available. They have spoken about long waiting times for access, or limited access to services and they often don’t feel listened to or involved in decisions that affect them.
As Healthwatch Champion I have been able to listen to people’s stories around mental health and to give them the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward. I feel that with good mental health people can start to work on their overall lifestyle. There are many examples of how the mental aspect of a person’s life affects the physical aspect and how a vicious negative cycle can then perpetuate.”
An example of someone who was supported by a Healthwatch Champion recently is Celia. “Celia is 46 years old and has had mental health problems since 2014 but no counselling or bereavement therapy has been offered. She is also self-medicating with alcohol.
Celia has asked her GP for referrals to no avail. With my help as Healthwatch champion I helped Celia to find a mental health worker to help her overcome the barriers and issues in her life.
Through listening to Celia and hearing what she wanted I also suggested that Celia contacted RISE alcohol services, which she did, and Celia now has positive support for her alcohol issues. Celia is really happy for the support from RISE, both in terms of individual counselling and group work, and this has enabled her to make positive steps in her life, with alcohol now not playing a factor in this.
Taking an holistical approach, I have continued to stay in contact with Celia and I have also referred her to the Depression and Anxiety Service as she was looking for somewhere to support her with the anxiety in her life. I will carry on looking at the goals that Celia may have in her life and where necessary empower, support and refer her to appropriate services to allow her to achieve these in a positive way. This has also allowed Celia to engage well with her GP, and Celia feels she now has a better relationship in which she can communicated her medical needs and that they are now being met.
Celia says she feels like a weight has been lifted from her and is extremely thankful to the service.