GP Practices from across mid and west Wales have commissioned a range of mental health support schemes to help their patients with low level mental health, isolation and loneliness.
These non-clinical interventions deliver a different approach to supporting patients and are designed to improve patient’s mental health and wellbeing.
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary, Community and Long Term Care, said: “Prior to the pandemic the Primary Care Clusters had recognised that low level mental health support was a key area of need for their patients.
“During the pandemic they have continued to work with partner agencies to increase the range of services offered which in some areas has been expanded to include children and young people.
“The expansion and development of services at this time is crucial in providing appropriate levels of care for patients that can be delivered as close to home as possible.”
Across the three counties, other innovative projects are helping patients with their mental health and wellbeing:
Since October 2020, the Amman Gwendraeth Primary Care Cluster has successfully rolled out additional support for patients needing mental health support in eight GP practices. Mental Health Practitioners have been employed to work across all GP practices in the cluster to advise and support patients with their mental health needs.
More recently the cluster has commissioned two mental health charities, Shadows Depression Support and The Jac Lewis Foundation, to meet the mental health needs of patients by directly providing counselling and psychotherapeutic interventions, patient education and support.
Dr Richard Swain, Cluster Lead for the Amman Gwendraeth said: “All of these services work together with the GPs and with our colleagues in secondary care to achieve positive outcomes for patients, improve timeliness of access to services and reduce complexity for those seeking help.”
In recognising the need for timely and appropriate mental health support, particularly for those patients who have low and medium mental health needs, the Llanelli Cluster has commissioned several schemes that support mental health and wellbeing for their patients. Mind Llanelli provide appropriate and timely support for adults with low and medium mental health needs and can provide counselling and/or group therapy.
The cluster also recognises the importance of providing mental health services to children and young people and commission CYCA (Connecting Youth, Children and Adults) for all children aged between 4 and 17. The service works with the parents/guardians and other family members to offer mentorship and resilience to help combat emotional distress.
Dr Alan Williams, Chair of Llanelli Cluster said: “In recognising the needs of our patients we remain keen to ensure that locally accessible services are available for any of our patients that have low to moderate mental health problems.
“In addition to the MIND and CYCA services we have been working with groups of patients through our Social Prescribing programme to combat loneliness, isolation as well as supporting mental health and wellbeing.”
The North Ceredigion Primary Care Cluster currently fund two projects which support mental health.
The HAUL Arts for Health project, partners isolated and vulnerable people with a creative writer to enhance personal creativity and wellbeing.
The cluster also works with Area 43 on the Here for You online counselling service, which is available for young people aged 16 to 30. Anyone wanting more information on this service can do so by using the registration form on the Area 43 website entering the code NCPCC www.area43.co.uk or if you would like to speak to someone about the service you can call Area 43 on 01239 614566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Gail Davies, GP Lead for North Ceredigion Cluster said: “As restrictions ease, more and more people are presenting to general practice, particularly the very young and the elderly, with mental health issues.
“In many cases they did not seek help earlier as they did not want to “bother” an over-stretched health service. However their needs are very genuine and there is a tsunami of mental health issues about to overwhelm us unless we act now.
“Therefore all aspects of healthcare – primary, secondary, third sector need to develop a co-ordinated and kind response to meet these needs.”
The South Pembrokeshire Primary Care Cluster has commissioned a youth project service, jointly funded by the cluster and the local authority education service, for children and young people aged 8 to 18.
The service supports extended family members to help the child recover from emotional distress. The cluster also commissions an Area 43 online short-term counselling service for children and young people aged between 13 and 16 years old.
Dr Martin Mackintosh, Cluster Lead for South Pembrokeshire said: “The provision of locally based, easily accessible mental health services to support both our young people and adults remains a key priority for our cluster and we have welcomed the opportunity to work with both our neighbouring cluster as well as colleagues in partner agencies.”
Both South Pembrokeshire and North Pembrokeshire clusters, jointly back several projects that support patient’s mental health and wellbeing. Partners for Journey, a collaboration between MIND and Citizens Advice Bureaux, supports people who have underlying non-medical needs and/or low level mental ill health. The service helps patients to deal with a range of issues such as loneliness and isolation, housing, welfare benefits, and debt.
The clusters also commission Pembrokeshire Counselling Services (PCS), who provide free, confidential, short term (6 sessions), one to one counselling for adults (aged 16 +) with mild to moderate mental health issues. Common presenting issues are anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, low confidence, anger, panic attacks, relationship and work issues, abuse and issues from childhood. PCS is an early intervention and preventative service.