A newly-published briefing by the NHS Confederation’s PCN Network and Mental Health Network has made the case for accelerating joint working between primary care networks and providers of mental health services to help manage the predicted surge in mental health support needs following coronavirus.
Early modelling has suggested as many as half a million more people may need support for their mental health in the coming months and years, with depression being the most common condition expected to significantly rise.
The new briefing helps set out where opportunities might be found and possible approaches mental health providers and PCNs could take to improve partnership working.
Better partnership working will not only help to meet rising demand in the short-term, but also ultimately improve care for patients with a mental health condition in the long-term, according to the new briefing.
The briefing comes off the back of a meeting between senior leaders from the two networks’ memberships in June, shining a light on where partnership working has been successful. It contains practical advice for both PCNs on developing relationships with mental health professionals, social prescribers, clinical pharmacists and the third sector.
Ruth Rankine, PCN Network Director, said: “The impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of the population will be felt for a long time after the physical health crisis subsides. If ever there was a time to work together as a system - across primary, secondary, community and voluntary sectors - it is now.”
Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network, added: “We know there is a variation in relationships between primary and secondary services across the country.
“Yet we also know that where there are strong links and mutual trust there is flexibility, improved step-down and preventative support and, crucially, better outcomes for the people that need support for their mental health, which is the most important thing of all.”