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Charity Gofal warns mental health outcomes ‘not improved’


A warning about inconsistencies in mental health patient outcomes has been raised in a charity’s report.

It follows the introduction of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure in 2012 which aims to improve the treatment of people with mental health problems.

Since then, Gofal has asked more than 3,600 people about their experiences and said “we are far from job done”.

The Welsh Government said 90% of patients evaluated the services “very positively”.

Gofal’s report compared data from four Wales-wide surveys of people’s experiences of primary mental health services since part one of the measure came into force.

 It looked at four key areas:
  • The understanding and empathy demonstrated by primary care staff
  • The range of advice, treatment and support options offered to people
  • Waiting times for assessment, treatment and support
  • The impact of these services on people’s mental health and wellbeing

Jayne Lutwyche, from Cardiff, told BBC Wales about her two very different experiences of mental health treatment.

She said her first was when she was 18 years old and went to her GP with an eating disorder.

“I plucked up the courage to go to my GP and they really weren’t very helpful at all. They weren’t worried about my mental health,” she said.

“The GP actually came out and said ‘at least you’re not cutting’, which I think is just about the worst thing you could say.”

She said her health deteriorated over the following weeks to the point where she attempted to take her own life.

Miss Lutwyche is now seeing a new GP who works to a care plan designed by a community mental health team.

“When I went to my GP at the age of 18 and asked for help with bulimia, if they had referred me to somewhere appropriate, there was absolutely no way I would have attempted suicide,” she said.

“It could have saved heartache not just for myself, but for my family and friends who had to see me go through some really dark times.”

‘Extremely concerning’

Gofal chief executive Ewan Hilton said it was “extremely concerning” that outcomes did not appear to have improved since 2012, and that the report showed “we are far from job done”.

“Although there appears to have been improvements in the range of advice, treatment and support offered to patients, all other treatment options still trail behind the huge proportion of people offered prescription medication,” he said.

Mr Hilton added that waiting times appeared to have improved but that many survey respondents told them they are still waiting too long to access one-to-one psychological therapies.

A Welsh Government spokesman said nearly 100,000 people have been seen in a new local primary mental health service, which was introduced as part of the measure.

More than half then received local interventions to help with their mental health problems, the spokesman said.

He said: “Over 90% of service users evaluated these service very positively… and while good progress has been made, we know there is still more work to be done by health boards to end inconsistency in mental health care.”


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