The Association of Mental Health Providers (AMHP) has launched a new campaign calling for urgent support for community mental health services.
After more than 10 years of austerity, and the cumulative impact of pandemic and cost of living pressures, the AMHP, the national voice for charities providing mental health and wellbeing services in England and Wales, reveals its insights into the demand on mental health services.
Over eight million people are supported by mental health charities – that is one in eight of the population – and a survey of the AMHP's 300 plus members has revealed:
A 100 per cent increase in waiting times for access to specialist referral and crisis services since summer 2022.
A 50 per cent rise in people presenting with increasing needs, particularly with anxieties related to money and housing because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of AMHP, said:
'I've worked in this sector for over 40 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it. There is an increase in prevalence of mental illness in society, an increase in the intensity of need, and an increase in demand for services. The whole system is cracking but the vital services delivered by mental health charities are being overlooked.
'Our members deliver a wide range of over 3,000 mental health services locally, regionally, and nationally. This means there is a mental health charity supporting our NHS in delivering mental health services in every local area of this country.
'The demand for services is outstripping the allocation of funding and resources that mental health charities have available to them and the AMHP is seeing many close their doors, or considering doing so. Without the charity supporting a person to live safe and well in the community, not only will some of the most vulnerable people in our society be left without help, but their deteriorating mental health will most likely result in increase pressure on the NHS.'
The AMHP calculates more than two million people are either unable to access any mental health care or needing more specialist services than those being provided.
Linda Bryant, Chief Executive of Together for Mental Wellbeing, said:
'With one in four people expected to experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, almost all of us will know someone who will need help and support or, we may need the support ourselves. The chances are, they will turn to a voluntary community sector or not-for-profit mental health organisation for that support.
'Whether it is access to a crisis helpline or, or face-to-face support over a number of weeks or indeed years, it is vital a person in crisis or experiencing longer term mental distress has access to the appropriate and compassionate care and support for their individual needs. As a mental health practitioner and leader with more than 35 years of experience in providing services for people experiencing mental distress with all levels of need and backgrounds, mental health social care services are never more vital. I see that in my own charity without precedent.
'As a sector we face a legacy of being chronically underfunded and under-valued. We play a significant and essential role in meeting the needs of people with mental illness, or experiencing mental distress in local communities across the country. But that role has not be sufficiently recognised for far too long. This vital campaign is, therefore, about people. It is quite rightly about putting the spotlight on the critical role charitable organisations play in delivering mental health services, and I urge decision makers in central and local government to take action now.'
Former Sergeant Major Phil Credland, who is now a Commercial Manager, received help from the charity St Andrew’s Healthcare. He explains how critical the support he received was, commenting:
'The St Andrew’s veteran service saved me. I can categorically say they pieced me back together and I want to say "thank you for bringing me back to life".
'In all my years’ service and after retiring I had never known what was wrong with me. I thought what I was going through was what everybody was experiencing. It was only when I met the veteran service team that I started to realise that I was struggling quite considerably with my mental health.
'They talked to me, understood what it was that I needed. They stabilised me, developed a care treatment plan for me and referred me to a psychologist so I could get the proper treatment.'
The AMHP’s new #MHEqualityNow campaign aims to raise awareness of the exponentially rising unmet need for mental health services, and is calling on Government to recognise the critical part mental health charities play in delivering mental health services by committing to sustainable ongoing and future funding for the sector.