Preventing and treating mental health through social prescribing
With mental health problems considered one of the main causes of the overall disease burdens worldwide, mental wellbeing issues are widespread and remain a key priority across the healthcare system.
Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with the cost to the economy estimated at £105 billion a year, roughly the same cost of the entire NHS.
There is now a consensus on what needs to change and a real desire to shift towards prevention and transform NHS care.
“The NHS needs a far more proactive and preventative approach to reduce the long term impact for people experiencing mental health problems and for their families, and to reduce costs for the NHS and emergency services” – The NHS Five Year Forward View
A New Mindset for Mental Health
While both medication and psychological therapies play a role in improving mental health conditions, social prescribing provides a suitable alternative and a further opportunity to respond effectively, and at an early stage, to symptoms of mental distress, as well as to initiate a more proactive approach to mental health promotion.
A Holistic, Person-Centred Approach to Mental Health Care
With up to 20% of GPs time estimated to be spent on dealing with social issues such as debt, housing and unemployment, social prescribing represents a way to manage mental health by taking a holistic, person-centred approach to wellbeing and addressing the wider determinants of health.
Given that nine out of ten adults with mental health problems are supported in primary care, social prescribing also can help to ease the burden on primary care services and staff. By reducing administrative pressures, not only will primary care professionals save time and resource but they will also be able to provide enhanced support for those patients most in need.
Enabling Early Intervention
Early intervention and quick access to good quality care are vital and as such, social prescribing takes a proactive approach to health and wellbeing by helping to tackle the root cause of the problem, not just the simply treating the symptoms.
With a focus on treating individuals holistically, social prescribing addresses people’s physical, mental and social needs in order to identify suitable community-based programmes and services based on the needs of the individual.
By connecting those with mental health conditions to community-based support such as exercise groups, mindfulness classes, counselling services and housing support, social prescribing allows individuals make informed decisions about their care, helping to maximise self-management and choice and putting the individual at the heart of each and every decision, using their own lived experience of mental health .
Ultimately, social prescribing can help to reshape how mental health care is delivered, increase access to the right care at the right time, drive down variations in the quality of care on offer, and improve patient outcomes.
INFOGRAPHIC: 8 WAYS SOCIAL PRESCRIBING CAN IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH
A New Mindset For Mental Health Support
Recognising the benefits that the social prescribing model of care can offer to those with mental health conditions, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust is engaging individuals in their Pathways Programme, providing them with more choice and freeing up capacity for the Life Rooms team to help more vulnerable people who need help most.
As a leading mental health trust and one of only seven NHS England Mental Health Global Digital Exemplars, Mersey Care use Elemental’s digital social prescribing platform to transform their referral process through its Pathways Advisors, help people using the Life Rooms to identify help and support on issues including;
- -finding employment
- -managing money
- -enrolling on Recovery College courses
Michael Crilly, Director of social inclusion & participation at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust said “In mental health services we can often be unwittingly guilty of creating a dependency culture that prevents people from moving on with their life and learning.
Through new approaches to social prescribing and improved access to community-based assets, I now see people moving on from that dependency so as to improve their health and their quality of life.”