Chairman's Comments

Improving picture for mental health sufferers?

Mental illness is an increasingly serious problem in Lancashire, says Mike Wedgeworth, Chair of Healthwatch Lancashire, and there is a definite link with deprivation.

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Statistics from Public Health England show that in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, the two most deprived areas, the proportion of people aged between 16 and 74 living with common mental health conditions is 18.8% and 21.2% respectively, compared with England’s 15.6%. All other parts of Lancashire are above the national average. It seems obvious that tackling the problem of low pay and unemployment is some part of the answer to improving mental health.

But I think there is some good news, as figures from Public Health England also show that treatments for depression are proving successful, with over 60% of sufferers recovering through a national scheme known as IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), though Blackpool remains well below that figure at 55.3%.

Healthwatch Lancashire is currently testing whether these improvements are reflected by lay people. Healthwatch Lancashire is asking the public about their experience of getting the help they need with a wide range of mental health conditions.

We have spoken to over 200 people and our hope is that our findings will point the way to further improvements, and will help to ensure that mental health is no longer the ‘Cinderella’ of the National Health Service. The full report will be published shortly and sent to those who commission and provide mental health services.

(Source of Statistics: Public Health England – Common Mental Health Disorders)