A new scheme based in Liverpool aims to improve access to mental health treatment by enabling residents of the city to meet experts in public places such as cafes and churches.
The Psychological Therapies Unit, a non-profit organisation, is testing a new scheme to tackle the spiralling rates of anxiety and depression on Merseyside.
This initiative is a response to research which has been conducted recently, suggesting that over 75% of sufferers in Britain are not receiving the mental health help they require.
The new unit intends to bring mental health provision away from the traditional setting of office-like therapy rooms into a more modern and comfortable environment.
Steve Flatt, director of the Psychological Therapies Unit, explained that creating a comfortable environment for those struggling with mental health problems could be hugely beneficial.
“We want to normalise the environment in which people get help for mental health difficulties. We ran our first public sessions in St Bride’s and at Leaf , and the feedback was very positive. One of the questions we were asked was, what happens if people start crying in public?’ But our clients don’t cry as we always look forward to hopes for the future not the rubbish from the past.”
The scheme initially emerged as an attempt to assist refugees arriving in Liverpool with mental health difficulties, but those involved with its launch later believed that it could help Liverpudlians as a whole.
Currently in Liverpool, a patient has to wait at up to four months to see a mental health specialist, often too long when a person needs urgent help, according to mental health experts.
This is indicative of the problems in the mental health sector in the NHS, and schemes such as this could crop up all over Britain if indeed the Liverpool initiative turns out to be successful.
Particularly intensifying the importance of such schemes is the incredible prominence of mental health difficulties in the United Kingdom.
Research recently found around 50% of adults in the UK have suffered some form of mental health problem at some point during their lives, with difficulties much more common in lower-income demographics.
The aforementioned Flatts had launched the pilot scheme back in February with a clinical psychologist colleague by the name of Suzi Curtis.
Flatts believes that the informal setting will encourage clients and those with mental health difficulties to open up more readily.
“This has not been done before in the UK. We’d love to get local Liverpool industry involved, sponsoring us, which would, in turn benefit them, as they can send their staff to use the service to identify and tackle issues employees may be suffering from.”
Additionally, Flatts has been critical of the way that mental health difficulties are currently dealt with in Liverpool.
“Mental health provision in the city, in terms of the way it is delivered, is not fit for purpose. People have to go through long-winded triages and assessments. But those who are depressed and anxious have real difficulties picking up the phone or opening their mail. With us, you ask to meet, and we tell them where – there’s no waiting lists, or endless procedures.”