Evidence shows more support must be made available
New research reveals that 50% of people say their mental health has been worse in the last few weeks than at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the second of three reports being produced by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) seeking to understand the impact of coronavirus on people with mental health problems.
The latest round of research explored access to care and treatment, finding that a quarter of participants felt opportunities to discuss care and treatment options have got worse since earlier in the pandemic.
SAMH’s new research released today also found that people do not feel well informed on the ways in which their support is changing, with almost half (46%) saying they had not received adequate information on how the pandemic affects their care and treatment.
One participant commented: “There is no mental health service in my area for the foreseeable future. An over-subscribed mental health nurse will phone you, but beyond that there is nothing at all.”
Billy Watson, chief executive at SAMH, said: “The impact of the pandemic on people with mental health problems cannot be overestimated. Our latest research paints a picture of worsening mental health, a lack of information about care and treatment and real privacy issues in being able to discuss care and treatment. We must make sure people can get access to support that works for them, and that people are given clear information about how their care will be delivered as circumstances continue to change”.
Claire, aged 39, lives in Kirkcaldy and experiences depression. She said: “Throughout lockdown I had been having a difficult time and I wanted to speak with my GP. I felt that I was having to battle through reception to even get to a doctor. Then you have to wait for a phone call appointment and you don’t know when you’ll get a call or who you’ll hear from.
“My GP knows me and what works for me, which is why I wanted to see them specifically. Because of the triaging system they are using, I had no access to my own GP, but I also felt it wasn’t urgent enough to contact my consultant.”
A quarter of respondents said they had been put off getting treatment or care for their mental health by the idea of phone consultations. One respondent told SAMH,
“I feel frustrated that I cannot see my Community Psychiatric Nurse face to face as I feel anxious speaking on the phone. Sometimes the connection is really poor so our conversation can be stilted. I much prefer a face to face discussion, as at home, I have no privacy and cannot freely discuss exactly what is going in my head.”
Satisfaction rates for consultations via video call were higher than those for appointments taking place on the phone. This may be because video calls were more likely to involve speaking to the same professional consistently. Over two-fifths (42%) of those who had taken part in a video or telephone consultation regarding their mental health said they had not spoken to the same person each time.
Privacy concerns were raised about both phone and video consultations: 36% of those who had discussed their care through a video call and 27% of those who had taken part in phone consultations said a lack of privacy had been a problem for them.