The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a damning report into Universal Credit (UC) – with a focus on how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has not done enough to protect and support “vulnerable claimants” including disabled people and people with health conditions.
The report says that because of the pressures of delivering UC, staff “lacked the time and ability to identify claimants who needed additional support’ and ‘felt overwhelmed by the volume of claimants reporting health problems’. The report also says that the DWP’s resistance to making changes ‘gives the unhelpful impression of a Department that is unsympathetic to claimants.”
The NAO has recommended that the Government does not expand the roll out of Universal Credit to existing claims (including over 1m people with mental health problems currently receiving Employment and Support Allowance) until it has fixed problems with the system.
Separate research released by the DWP last week found that one in four Universal Credit claimants reported having a health condition that significantly affected their day to day lives. It also found that:
- 50% of people with long-term health conditions receiving Universal Credit reported being in financial difficulty and struggling to keep up with bills and credit commitments.
- Health and disability was the single most common reason why people receiving Universal Credit struggled to meet work search requirements. (This applied to 48% of people who were unable to meet their requirements)
- Only 30% of people with a long-term health condition said that Universal Credit was easier to claim than other benefits.
Full story: National Mind
New research for Mind has shown soap storylines, news reports, documentaries, dramas and celebrity interviews which explore mental health, have all helped more people to feel less alone, start conversations about mental health and support each other.
Research for Mind has found that 1 in 3 people (31%) feel “less alone” following news coverage of mental health – a rise of 22% since 2016.
It follows a year of high profile media coverage including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’ Heads Together campaign, Danny Rose becoming the first playing England footballer to speak out about depression and ITV’s Coronation Street putting a focus on suicide and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The findings come as the Mind Media Awards 2018 open for entries. The awards celebrate the best reporting and portrayals of mental health in the media. Mind is now calling on journalists, producers and podcasters from TV, radio, print and online media to submit work, which has shone a light on mental health and challenged negative stereotypes.
The research also shows almost a third of people (28%) started a conversation about mental health following news reports and more than half (53%) said the Royal Family had got the whole nation talking about mental health.
Meanwhile, one in four people (26%) who saw a mental health storyline in a soap contacted a friend, colleague or loved one experiencing mental health problems and 16% sought help for themselves from a health professional.
The public also considered TV broadcasters (81%) or newspaper journalists (79%) as having more influence in contributing to the public’s attitudes to mental health than teachers (75%) or politicians (70%).
Full story: National Mind
The majority of people who stayed as an inpatient in hospital were happy with the care they received, had confidence in the doctors and nurses treating them and had a better overall experience, according to a national survey from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
However, people with mental health problems generally report a poorer experience when they stay in hospital.
The 2017 inpatient survey asked over 70,000 adults who had stayed in hospital for at least one night during July last year said about the care they received.
The survey asked people to give their opinions on the care they received, including quality of information and communication with staff, whether they were given enough privacy, the amount of support given to help them eat and drink and help with personal hygiene, and on arrangements to discharge them from hospital.
For a second year running, responses were less positive across most areas for people with a mental health problem than those without.
Those with mental health problems said they had less confidence and trust in hospital staff, and thought they were treated with less respect and dignity and felt less informed about their care. They also gave lower than average scores in relation to whether their needs, values and preferences were fully considered, and for the quality of the coordination and integration of their care.
This repeats a trend found in the results of CQC’s 2017 surveys of children and young people and patients using A&E.
Full story: National Mind
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is focusing on the way stress impacts our lives. As part of this, Mind’s major new survey of almost 44,000 employees has found that almost half (48 per cent) had experienced poor mental health, such as stress, low mood, and anxiety, while working at their current organisation. Of those respondents, only half chose to tell their employer about their difficulties (10,554).
The data was gathered from the 74 organisations that took part in Mind’s latest Workplace Wellbeing Index, a benchmark of best policy and practice which celebrates the work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health.
These new findings also show:
More than eight in ten people (84 per cent) would continue to go to work when experiencing poor mental health while only just over half (58 per cent) would go to work when experiencing poor physical health
Only two fifths (42 per cent) of all employees surveyed felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health
A fifth (21 per cent) of all respondents feel that their current workload is unmanageable
Employers taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index are aiming to create a culture where staff feel able to talk openly about their mental health. Encouragingly this year two thirds (61 per cent) of employers taking part in the Index intend to increase spend on workplace wellbeing activities to create a more positive and open culture.
Full story: National Mind
“Take care of yourself”. Those words from a stranger on the tube in south west London always give me hope that not all humans are going to blatantly look me up and down, trying to work out if I’m crazy and should be avoided. The woman had glanced at the scars on my arms for a split second before finding my eyes and seeing the discomfort glaring back at her. She shared a moment of sympathy with me through a warm smile and kind words before exiting the carriage, leaving an impression that three years later I still find myself thinking about.
With British Summer Time upon us, most of us hope we’ll get to wear our best summer clothes, the ones we tuck away for the majority of the year and bring out only for a few days of mild sunshine. For some of us though, it brings anxiety. No one wants to be dripping in sweat, layered up to cover the parts of their skin they’d rather not talk about. The eyes of curious strangers, whispers and occasional outbursts of anger (yes, it happens) make our skin the elephant in the room, one we so often want to hide.
Full article: New Statesman
In 2017 our charity, Suicide Crisis, started a research project into deaths by suicide which involved attending every inquest which was a possible suicide in our county of Gloucestershire.
We also spoke to some of the families of the individuals who died.
At our Suicide Crisis Centre we are fortunate and immensely grateful that no client has died in the period that they have been under our care.
However, we were still hearing of deaths in our area, and this was distressing to us. We wanted to learn what more could be done to prevent them.
Here are some interesting findings from the first six months of our research, during which time the coroner found that twenty five individuals had died by suicide in Gloucestershire.
Full story: Mental Health Today
A report by the Care Quality Commission shows a deteriorating lack of patient involvement in plans to support people to recover from distress in hospital.
- 32% of care plans reviewed showed no evidence of patient involvement. This was 29% last year.
- 17% showed no evidence of consideration of the patient’s particular needs. This was 10% last year.
- 31% showed no evidence of the patient’s views.
- 17% showed no evidence of consideration of the least restrictive options for care. This compares to
- 10% of records last year.
- 24% showed no evidence of discharge planning, compared with 32% last year.
Rethink Mental Illness said: “If you go to hospital with a physical health condition you would expect your views about the treatment and care you’re getting to matter. So why are the views of people detained under the Mental Health Act not even being considered a third of the time?”
“This is a clear example of where practice under the Act is badly out of date. The Act is currently being reviewed, and this shows that bold changes need to be made in order to ensure that people are involved, listened to, and respected.”
Mind said: “There are some areas of real concern. Poor care planning and problems with advocacy are depriving people of a voice while they are in hospital, the overuse of physical restraint and the use of other forms of coercion that have no place in modern healthcare are still alarmingly wide-spread, and certain groups, such as young black men, continue to be worryingly over-represented in the figures. These aren’t new issues – the CQC has been highlighting them for years yet little has changed.”
“It is clear that the Act and the way it’s applied isn’t working. With an independent review currently underway, there is an important opportunity to fight for legislation that is fit for purpose, and puts people at the heart of decisions made about their care.”
“We know that we can’t look at the Act in isolation, without addressing the ongoing failures in mental health services which result in people ending up in crisis in the first place.”
Source: Mental Health Today