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In brief: Concerns raised over plan to reduce police mental health callouts

An image of a UK policeman on duty
King's Church International | Unplash

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

Safety concerns raised over plan for police to stop responding to mental health callouts

The UK government has instructed police forces to quickly reduce the number of mental health-related 999 calls they respond to in order to free up police time.

The move comes as part of a new national strategy for the police's role in mental health emergencies, with the aim being to divert more mental health-related calls to health services rather than involving the police, except in cases where there is a risk to public safety or if a crime has been committed.

The strategy, known as "right care, right person" (RCRP), aims to ensure that police officers spend less time on non-criminal mental health incidents and hand over such cases to health workers within an hour, instead of staying with the individuals for extended periods.

The move is intended to save millions of estimated hours for police and provide more appropriate care services for those in crisis.

However, mental health experts have expressed concerns about the potential risks of diverting mental health-related calls away from police involvement.

There are worries that vulnerable individuals may not receive appropriate care and support if they fall between the cracks of police and health services.

The implementation of the RCRP approach is likely to create tension between police and health services over the speed of rollout and the availability of resources.

Health officials are urging a cautious pace in implementing the changes, particularly due to the increasing pressure on the NHS mental health workforce.

The announcement has been widely criticised by mental health organisations and experts as the resources are not in place for the scheme's national implementation.

The government did not announce any additional funding for this new strategy but referred to previously announced investments in mental health services, including £2.3 billion per year to create additional mental health treatment packages, and £150 million for urgent and emergency mental health care services.

Some mental health patients in Scotland needlessly spend years in hospital

The Scottish NHS has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that a mental health patient spent nearly a decade in hospital unnecessarily due to delayed discharge issues, with another waiting over six years for a suitable outside care package to be found for them.

The shocking figures have put additional pressure on the First Minister to address the country's ongoing NHS problems urgently.

According to the research, 356 mental health patients who met the criteria for discharge had to stay in hospital due to delayed discharge issues.

The average delay experienced by these patients was 178 days, but some individuals faced delays of much longer.

One patient in NHS Lothian had their departure from the hospital delayed by up to about nine-and-a-half years (3,000 to 3,500 days).

NHS Fife had one patient who experienced a delay of over six years, with discharge held up for 2,489 days.

NHS Lothian had the highest number of mental health patients affected by delayed discharge, with 96 individuals experiencing an average delay of 336 days.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Tayside also had patients who faced significant delays of over 1,000 days.

While health officials have acknowledged that some patients have highly complex needs and require bespoke care plans in the community before they can be safely discharged from the hospital, the revelation highlights the challenges, strains and failures of the mental health care system in Scotland.

Grassroots football mental health support ‘under-resourced’ for players experiencing racism

The grassroots football community has raised serious concerns about the mental health impact of racial discrimination on players.

According to a report by anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out, incidents of racial discrimination reported in grassroots football have increased by a third since last season and nearly doubled since the 2019/2020 season.

Grassroots football clubs and coaches have highlighted the lack of mental health support for players who experience abuse, and this has reportedly resulted in some players leaving the game.

The failure of the game's governing body to offer sufficient support to those affected by racial discrimination has been criticised by clubs and coaches.

Tajean Hutton, head of grassroots at Kick It Out, said:

"We're talking about millions of participants within grassroots football and unfortunately the resources that have been inserted into mental health support from a grassroots perspective doesn't match up, or isn't synonymous with the level of participants that we currently have in the game."

Mental health of 14 million people impacted by soaring mortgage rates

The rising costs of mortgages in England and Wales are having a significant impact on people's mental health, according to research by mental health charity Mind.

The study found that almost a third of people (29%) have been affected by the increasing mortgage costs over the past year, with one in ten (10%) reporting that it had a significant impact on their mental health.

The impact of rising mortgage costs was even more pronounced for individuals with pre-existing mental health problems, with nearly four in ten (36%) saying that it had worsened their mental health.

Younger people between the ages of 16 and 24 were also particularly affected, with almost half (48%) reporting similar negative impacts on their mental well-being.

As the Bank of England considers further interest rate increases, the issue of housing affordability and its impact on mental health becomes even more pertinent.

Mind, the largest mental health charity in the UK, has witnessed a significant 55% increase in the number of people reaching out to its Infoline service in the past 18 months, seeking assistance with financial difficulties.

Postpartum depression may be treatable at home with new pill

The results of the Phase III SKYLARK study have shown promising outcomes for Zuranolone – an investigative drug aimed at treating symptoms of perinatal or postpartum depression.

In the study, 200 patients – 196 of whom were female patients between the ages of 18 and 45 – were administered either Zuranolone (50mg) or a placebo once daily for 14 days.

At day 15, 57% of the women who received Zuranolone experienced a 50% or more improvement in their depressive symptoms, compared with 38% of women who took the placebo. Similarly, at day 45, 61.9% of the trial participants who were given Zuranolone, compared with 54.1% of women receiving the placebo, experienced a 50% or more improvement in their depressive symptoms.

These positive findings from the SKYLARK study indicate the potential for Zuranolone to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first oral, at-home, neuroactive steroid therapy for the treatment of postpartum depression.

Money and Mental Health responds to results of FCA Financial Lives survey

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates financial services, has released the findings of its latest Financial Lives Survey.

According to the survey results, over 7 million individuals were unsuccessful while trying to contact one or more of their financial services providers during the period between May 2021 and May 2022.

This high number of unsuccessful attempts to reach financial service providers indicates a potential issue with customer service in the industry.

In response to these findings, the FCA has expressed its commitment to addressing this concern and improving customer outcomes in this area.

To achieve this, they plan to collaborate with financial firms and implement measures to enhance customer experiences.

These efforts are part of the FCA's new Consumer Duty, which will be implemented at the end of the month.

Interim Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Conor D’Arcy said:

“These disappointing findings highlight there’s still a huge gap between the help people need and what they’re getting from firms, despite recent efforts to encourage struggling customers to reach out.

"As the cost of living crisis rumbles on, banks have to turn words into action and make sure that customers who are struggling – particularly those with mental health problems and other vulnerabilities – can get the support they need."


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