People who most need mental health support struggle to get it

There are a lot of support services that offer mental health support, however many do not cater for more complex and enduring mental health issues, such as severe depression, trauma and psychiatric disorders. Many support services are only limited to mild to moderate mental health issues, such as low mood and anxiety, for instance via apps and employee assistance programmes.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says, ‘There is a world of difference in the support that people need for low mood and mild anxiety, to that needed for severe depression and other mental illnesses, and very few services address the latter. It’s great that companies are making support more accessible for mental wellbeing, but it’s vital that support is also put in place for more serious mental health conditions.’

Serious mental health conditions are not uncommon, such as PTSD, self-harm, severe depression and psychosis; and it’s vital that people who experience these are catered for by support services.

As supporting mental health and wellbeing is at the top of corporate agendas, companies are keen to make help accessible, but it’s important that they’re aware of the differences between help for mild to moderate conditions, and severe or enduring mental health issues.

Most services offer valuable ‘In the moment’ support, but if additional support is needed, it often falls short. Indeed, some services have a list of exclusions covering the more complex mental health conditions, with others it is down to the practitioner’s judgement whether they expect the issues to be resolved by the short course of counselling or CBT available.

Christine Husbands continues: ‘Sadly, we hear of many people who have been turned away from mental health support services because their mental health condition was excluded, or that the available therapies were not judged to be appropriate. This can be incredibly detrimental and put recovery time back significantly – ironically, these are the people that need the most help. Support encompassing the full spectrum, from mild through to severe mental health conditions, must be available for all people to be fully supported.’

Support for serious mental health conditions needs to include access to long-term help from a mental health specialist as well as a course of the most appropriate therapy if needed. It needs to include:

  • Risk assessment
  • Screening using clinical tools, such as PHQ9/GAD7
  • Help with coping strategies
  • Short- and long-term goals and planning
  • Guidance on appropriate tools and resources
  • Help to access services from the NHS, or available employee benefits
  • Long-term resilience tools
  • Return-to-work support

Christine Husbands concludes: ‘The term mental health covers a wide range of conditions and severities and is therefore very complicated, so it needs a comprehensive approach. We understand that when companies see that mental health support can be provided that they think they’ve ticked that box, but they may not appreciate that the support is quite limited in practice. We see the fall-out from that approach. Comprehensive support for more severe conditions, in addition to mild to moderate, also needs to be put in place if companies really want to give people access to the most appropriate support for them. We see some very positive results from people that have access to fuller support.’