How Scarborough and Whitby mental health patients can get better access to support

Many people across Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale are starting to benefit from improved access to mental health support thanks to an exciting new partnership between North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, local Primary Care Networks and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

By Duncan Atkins
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 12:46 pm

New Primary Care Mental Health Workers are working into Primary Care Networks across Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale.

They are supporting GP surgeries as first points of contact for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health illnesses, reducing the wait or even need, to see a GP.

The experienced practitioners work closely with GP colleagues, supporting surgeries to assess people who contact them with mental health related illnesses, ensuring they receive proactive, effective and timely care as well as additional signposting advice and information if needed.

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Scarborough's Keith Marsden: "I think these new roles are crucial."

They also liaise with relevant services where necessary, to ensure people receive the right referral first time and as quickly as possible.

Keith Marsden, from Scarborough, has needed help from mental health services from time to time over several years.

He said: "When I have first sought support, on almost every occasion I have had to repeat to different people what is happening for me and, each time I have to go through things again, it becomes more difficult, stressful and traumatic.

"The process only makes me feel worse and worse, especially if after the initial referral you find you would be best placed under another service.

"It is much less demanding to be able to describe recent symptoms and experiences only once and this is why I think these new roles are crucial.

"It's an early link with a mental health professional who is there to help and provide appropriate advice and guidance to support yourself or refer you on to the right place, first time".

Sophie Wigby-Ashurst, one of the new mental health workers, said: “Everyone is different, some people might simply need support accessing self-help information or understanding coping strategies, others may require signposting or referrals to specific services.

"We are able to make sure no matter what support people need; they get it as quickly as possible.

“Because of our expertise, we might also be able to give people some activities or therapies to help them straight away, even while they are waiting for wider treatments, which will reduce the length of time that they are experiencing distress and give them skills and tools to help themselves initially.”

The new approach is also helping to strengthen relationships between Primary and Secondary care colleagues through the sharing of knowledge and enhanced understanding of mental health illnesses and the support available.

Peter Billingsley, GP and clinical lead for vulnerable people at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group said demand for help with mental health was increasing, especially since the start of Covid-19.

"We are seeing many more people are contacting their GP with mental health concerns including anxiety, low mood and depression so having an experienced mental health professional they can speak to quickly and without a GP referral makes sense," he said.

Recruitment to the new roles has already began with many professionals already in post thanks to TEWV, North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and various local Primary Care Networks.

Further roles will be recruited into over the next two years with the aim to continuously expand the service too.

The move is aligned to the Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, which is developing and transforming local community mental health support to give people greater choice and control over their care and support them to live well in their communities.