Mental health. Everyone is suddenly talking about it. And there may be a few good reasons for that. According to reports by the Mental Health Taskforce and NHS England, mental disorders are on the rise and can have long-term serious consequences for people of all ages, increasing significantly their risk of disability and premature death.
But how big exactly is the problem?
Let’s look at some key figures from the above reports.
- Mental disorders account for 23% of all ill health in the UK. Every year, they affect one in four adults and one in ten children.
- People with serious chronic mental disorders live an average of 15 to 20 years less than the general population, as a result of developing a physical condition.
- Those with schizophrenia are two times more likely to die from heart disease, and four times more likely to die from a lung condition. And yet, less than a third of those who are hospitalised are assessed for heart problems.
- Mental disorders are the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, accounting for 70 million sick days annually. They are also the main reason for claiming work benefits, in 44% of cases.
Not only that. Of those who receive treatment, only a small minority have access to all the interventions NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, recommends.
The help they need, when they need it
Whatever the reasons behind the current mental health crisis, there appears to be one obvious solution: increasing access to services, so that everyone gets the help they need, when they need it. But how do you do it?
It is widely accepted that technology in general, and unified communications specifically, have a key role to play in the transformation of healthcare, including mental health services. And the reason is quite simple…
Traditionally, communication among patients, care providers and health organisations is done via many disparate tools such as telephones, instant messaging, and videoconferencing. Unified communication brings these all together so they can work seamlessly and precisely, enabling faster processes and increased productivity.
Think of having to arrange a multidisciplinary meeting of health professionals for an urgent consultation during an emergency. This typically involves a series of phone calls and requires a significant amount of time, with potentially serious consequences for patients, as treatment is delayed.
Intelligent unified communication solutions allows carers and health professionals to reach out to other available professionals at the touch of a mobile device screen, and to pull together a team on video in virtually no time – right where you need it. It’s a much more efficient system, which enables fast access to the most appropriate care, improving patient outcomes and experience.
Everyone and everything is connected. At any time. Anywhere.
Closing the treatment gap
So, what are key strategies that tap into the power of unified communications to address inequalities in the use of mental health services? Which solutions, specifically, can improve access to treatment, narrowing the existing gap?
- Developing engaging, accurate digital directories that help patients know about, and feel connected with, mental health and support services in the community.
- Taking full advantage of secure communication-based solutions that enable enhanced mental health home care. This not only widens access to psychological treatments and therapies but also, importantly, improves patient experience.
- Empowering remote care providers to deliver quality care to people facing a mental health crisis, 24 hours a day. Providers should, for example, be able to instantly access a patient’s medical records, find important information about treatments, and connect with the right consultant or specialist for emergency advice and support.
- Becoming an IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service provider. The IAPT programme aims to facilitate access to evidence-based treatments for depression and anxiety disorders. Over three years, around 600,000 people started treatment thanks to the programme. Of these patients, 120,000 made a full recovery and 23,000 came off sick pay.
Want to learn more? Make sure you download our white paper here http://bit.ly/1M2uw27