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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2010): Mental health services - UK

Autism and technology

S. Parsons (guest editor)

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 4, Mar. 2010, p. 2-60

Technology has been argued by many authors to be practically and conceptually beneficial for education, communication and learning for people with autism. This is because computers can offer controllable, rewarding and visual modes of interaction without requiring direct social contact with others, which can be uncomfortable and confusing for many autistic people. This special issue brings together authors from research and practice to showcase the breadth and quality of work in this area.

Consultation, referral and ethnicity: the role of primary care in accessing mental health services

M. Johnson and S. Weich

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, vol.3, Mar. 2010, p. 6-13

Young men of African and Afro-Caribbean ethnicity are over-represented in inpatient mental health settings in the UK, and typically access services via more coercive pathways than their white counterparts. This pilot study focused on patients' narratives of their journey from first contact with primary care services. It describes and compares the early experiences of help-seeking for serious mental health problems among a small sample of seven young men (three White, four Black). All participants were dissatisfied with their initial consultation with their GPs, and believed that it had an impact on their care pathway into mental health services. It was clear that failure to disclose information about symptoms contributed to this lack of immediate treatment. Advocacy by family and friends was critical to securing access to mental health services for study participants.


A. James

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2010, p. 10-11

Latest figures from the NHS Information Centre show that, in total, there were 47,724 uses of hospital detention powers under the Mental Health Act in 2008/09 in England, the highest since records began. Additionally, in 2008/09, the first year of their introduction in England, 4,000 community treatment orders were initiated. This single year figure has already exceeded the government's estimate of 3,000-5,000 orders over five years! The statistics clearly point to increased use of force and compulsion in mental health care.

Harnessing the expertise of experience: increasing access to employment within mental health services for people who have themselves experienced mental health problems

R. Perkins, M. Rinaldi and J. Hardisty

Diversity in Health and Care, vol. 7, 2010, p. 13-21

The user employment programme at South West London and St George's Mental Health Services NHS Trust was established in 1995 with the aim of increasing access to employment within mental health services for people who had themselves experienced mental health problems. This paper describes the employment outcomes that were achieved from 1995 to 2007. The data gathered suggest that people who have experienced mental health problems can work effectively in ordinary positions in mental health services under the same terms and conditions as other employees. With support, 86% of individuals were able sustain employment within or outside the organisation, or to progress to further professional training.

Legal eye

R. Keys

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2010, p. 26

The use of Community Treatment Orders introduced under the Mental Health Act 2007 has exceeded expectations. All patients on a community order who are receiving medication (which is almost all of them) must have it authorised by a second opinion appointed doctor from the Care Quality Commission, usually within a month of the order's starting. Unfortunately there are insufficient second opinion appointed doctors to meet demand, leading to mentally ill people being medicated illegally.

Medication error in mental health: implications for primary care

I.D. Maidment and H. Parmentier

Mental Health in Family Medicine, vol.6, 2009, p. 203-207

People with mental health problems may be at greater risk of medication error, but evidence is currently lacking. Primary care has a key role in improving medication safety. The complexity of mental healthcare services, which involve primary and secondary care and social services, and training issues may increase the risk of errors, with the management of physical medicines presenting particular concerns. Patients may be cognitively impaired and fail to identify an error, placing greater safety burdens on clinicians. The potential role of carers in error prevention and medication safety requires further exploration. A lack of trust between service users and clinicians may impair honest communication about medication issues, leading to errors.

Mental health, service user involvement and recovery

J. Weinstein (editor)

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2010

As the momentum for personalisation and recovery approaches grows, service users are increasingly participating as partners in all aspects of health and social care delivery, policy-making and professional training. This book provides an overview of service user involvement in mental health, its origins and current practice and policy. Written by service users and academics, it portrays a vital connection between recovery and involvement, offering a framework of values and helpful strategies to promote meaningful user participation. By sharing their personal narratives and contributing their views, service user authors demonstrate how taking control of their own care facilitates a swifter and more satisfying recovery. The book further acknowledges the bilateral value of user involvement in the development of mental health services, student learning, collaborative research and challenging social stigma, providing examples and critical appraisal of how this is currently being implemented.

Peer to peer

J. Cosh

Mental Health Today, Apr. 2010, p. 14-15

Scotland has been pioneering a formal peer supporter worker scheme where people with experience of mental illness are employed and trained to support other people in their recovery. Peer support workers were employed in five health boards across Scotland for 18 months as a pilot. They worked as part of the mental health team in a variety of settings, inpatient as well as community based.

A place to heal young minds

T. de Castella

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 30th-Apr. 5th 2010, p. 16-17

Revised legislation that came into effect on April 1st 2010 made it a requirement for primary care trusts to provide age-appropriate care in separate facilities for young people under 18 with mental health problems. This article presents a case study of East London's Coborn Centre to demonstrate what this means in practice.

Reducing health inequalities in Scotland: the involvement of people with learning disabilities as national health service reviewers

M. Campbell and M. Martin

British Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 38, 2010, p. 49-58

People with learning disabilities have more health needs than the general population and those health needs are different and require more specialised services. There is evidence of poorer outcomes and less effective health interventions for people with learning disabilities in Scotland, as elsewhere. Reducing health inequalities is currently a priority for the Scottish government and NHS policy has encouraged patient involvement in healthcare planning and delivery. This article reports on an NHS initiative to involve people with learning disabilities as 'expert patient' reviewers in national review teams, looking at the quality of inpatient and community services for people with learning difficulties. All 15 health boards in Scotland were reviewed, using a set of quality indicators. Details of the planning and some arrangements are reported, and the success of the initiative is evaluated.

Responding to the Delivering Race Equality (DRE) agenda in mental health services: national recommendations informed by local experience

D. Truswell and R. Bryant-Jefferies

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, vol.3, Mar. 2010, p. 36-46

This article summarises what the Department of Health's 2005 Delivering Race Equality agenda in mental health services set out to achieve and the background to this. The article then provides commentary on the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust's experiences while acting as one of the 18 focused implementation sites created as part of the Department of Health's action plan.

Skills for support: personal assistants and people with learning disabilities

V. Williams

British Journal of Learning disabilities, vol.38, 2010, p. 59-67

For people with learning disabilities to have control over their lives, the quality of their support staff matters. This paper reports on a study which used video analysis to examine the communication skills of personal assistants (PAs) who worked with people with learning disabilities. The results reveal some of the fine detail in the strategies these PAs used to show respect, support choices and give advice. The research produced training materials that will help people with learning disabilities train and support their own PAs.

Understanding social work practice in mental health

V. Coppock and B. Dunn

London: Sage, 2010

This book provides an authoritative overview of mental health theory, policy and practice. Exploring the complex moral and ethical dimensions underpinning the field, the book engages with the key issues encountered by practitioners working in the modern mental health system. Using real world scenarios, case studies, and reflective exercises, it asks students to critically examine the world of mental health practice from the perspective of users of mental health services and their carers. Reflecting the core values, skills and knowledge frameworks required for professional social work qualification in the mental health context, this book includes practice dilemmas, chapter summaries, and resources to aid further study.

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