Vibrant places

Partnership working in mental health

Our summary report of our mental health collaboration summit looks at how we can join the dots in healthcare services.

Mental ill health costs the economy over £100 billion each year and affects one in four people. However, responding to issues related to an underlying mental illness does not solely sit within the remit of health professionals. With many parts of the public sector needing to respond, and each facing significant financial pressures, collaboration around this issue is essential if savings are to be found and the best care provided.

This paper draws together examples of successful collaboration between public services and feedback from a Midlands round table discussion – where the West Midlands Combined Authority has set up a mental health commission – to look at how different services have overcome some of the traditional barriers and demarcation lines between organisations.

There are four key messages:

1. The unpredictable nature of mental health symptoms can mean that the first point of contact is via emergency services, with ambulance, fire and rescue or police officers being present. The cost of services not being available at the right place at the right time can be huge, in terms of the personal suffering of individuals and costs to the wider system.

2. Often relatively modest amounts of money targeted at specific initiatives such as street triage or community cafes can make a huge difference in improving the availability of important services.

3. An impact can be made without the need for expensive structural change. Most importantly, it requires a genuine approach to collaboration and a culture of putting the patient first. 

4. Investing in collaborative initiatives that focus on the needs of mental health patients were undoubtedly resulting in savings elsewhere to the public purse. Examples include:

  • 92% reduction in detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in Cheshire and Wirral; 50% reduction in Birmingham and Solihull; 39% in Nottinghamshire; 30% in Kent
  • 647 A&E attendances avoided by one street triage team in one year in Birmingham and Solihull 
  • 80% remission in psychosis through early intervention in Derbyshire
  • 25% of unemployed users of the café run by the Manchester Mind Young Adults Services and Projects team have gone on to find employment.

A set of recommendations on how to move this approach forward is also provided.