Access improved to mental health support in Richmondshire, says NHS officials

Jane Hoggart.

Richmondshire residents are starting to benefit from improved access to mental health support thanks to a new partnership, NHS officials say.

The partnership is made up of North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, local Primary Care Networks and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

The arrangement sees mew primary care mental health workers supporting GP surgeries as first points of contact for local people experiencing mild to moderate mental health illnesses, reducing the wait or even need, to see a GP.

The experienced practitioners work with GP colleagues, supporting surgeries to assess people who contact them with mental health related illnesses, ensuring they receive proactive, effective and timely care as well as additional signposting advice and information if needed.

They also liaise with relevant services where necessary, to ensure people receive the right referral first time and as quickly as possible.

Jane Hoggart, one of the new mental health workers, said: “Everyone is different, some people might simply need support accessing self-help information or understanding coping strategies, others may require signposting or referrals to specific services.

“We are able to make sure no matter what support people need; they get it as quickly as possible.

“Because of our expertise, we might also be able to give people some activities or therapies to help them straight away, even while they are waiting for wider treatments, which will reduce the length of time that they are experiencing distress and give them skills and tools to help themselves initially.”

Officials say the new approach is also helping to strengthen relationships between primary and secondary care colleagues through the sharing of knowledge and enhanced understanding of mental health illnesses and the support available.

Peter Billingsley, GP and clinical lead for vulnerable people at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group said Primary Care Network, said: “Demand for help with mental health is increasing, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing many more people are contacting their GP with mental health concerns including anxiety, low mood and depression so having an experienced mental health professional they can speak to quickly and without a GP referral makes sense.

“We are delighted to welcome these new roles across our Primary Care Network areas. From support to access self-help information to signposting and referring to specific services, the mental health workers are able to make sure no matter what support people need; they get it as quickly as possible.”

Recruitment to the new roles has already began with many professionals already in post thanks to TEWV, North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local Primary Care Networks.

Further roles will be recruited into over the next two years with the aim to continuously expand the service too.

David Kerr, community mental health transformation programme and delivery lead for North Yorkshire and York, said: “A wide variety of organisations across our local communities are working together in delivering and improving access to mental health care and wider support.

“Having mental health workers aligned to and working alongside colleagues in Primary Care is just one of the first steps being taken.”