SOLIHULL is 15 per cent above the national average for the number of people in contact with specialist mental health services.
Solihull council discussed the implementation of a mental health strategy last month.
The Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust is responding to the “requires improvement” status it received from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in August.
The trust provides mental health services to 1.2 million people, from children to the elderly, in the Solihull and West Midlands region, operating from over 50 sites.
On the back of calls from Health Watch England to prioritise mental health and widespread cuts to mental health services, criticisms of Solihull include that ‘Community Mental Health Teams are holding caseloads in excess of capacity’.
Another source of concern is Solihull’s ‘exceptionally high rates of self harm’ by patients over the age of 18.
There are still ‘services with waiting times that are in excess of the 18 week target’.
A high number of patients are being referred back to mental health services after being discharged.
There is a concern that more needs to be done to break the cycle of dependency on mental health services in the borough.
The community and voluntary sector has been praised for mental health provision which is ‘delivering excellent outcomes very cost effectively’.
However, concerns have been raised recently about the scrapping of a £500,000 fund for the voluntary sector in Solihull which could limit its capabilities.
Mental health became a focus in Solihull after the closure of the Bruce Burns, the borough’s only acute psychiatric unit which closed its doors.
The CQC pinpointed specialist community mental health services for children and young people as being ‘inadequate’.
Green councillor for Shirley, Max McLoughlin, says: “We know that austerity has pushed a lot of people into ill health, both mentally and physically.
“It’s clearly costing us far more financially, social and mentally than any savings are worth.”
A spokesperson on behalf of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and NHS Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said more work is being done to address the issues- including more funding.
They said: “Solihull has a strong focus on developing robust community based services and support to help people stay well and maintain recovery.
“Examples of this include the Crisis café and four respite flats, which have played a significant part in reducing the numbers of people who need to be admitted to hospital.
“Solihull CCG’s expenditure on mental health has increased over recent years. Parity of esteem is defined as growth in mental health investment of at least the same level as the growth in the CCG’s funding.
“The CCG’s growth in funding in 2017/18 was 2 per cent on 2016/17 levels, whereas investment in mental health services is expected to increase by 2.9 per cent.
“Additional funding has also been secured for people with both mental and physical health problems, to support them with their psychological needs.
“An example is our improved community personality disorder service, a new service to support those with complex presentations including those with issues such as self-harm. We will also work to strengthen our offer to young people.”