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Spalding mental health advocate calls for improvements in service

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Urgent action is needed to help people in our area as we struggle with a mental health epidemic.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we are highlighting the issues which affect people of all ages across the district.

Data from Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust shows that this area was struggling with issues such as suicide even before the pandemic, and key figures have said that Covid has left us in an even worse state.

South Holland District Council Chairman Coun Paul Redgate raised the Pride flag. (48068873)
South Holland District Council Chairman Coun Paul Redgate raised the Pride flag. (48068873)

The trust says that is cannot say how many people are on its waiting list. However, people in this area are known to have waited as long as eight months for the help they so desperately need from the health service.

Vanessa Browning, of Spalding-based Community Mind Matters, said: “I am dealing with new people in crisis every single day and it’s not going to get any better.”

The news comes in the same week that members of the group went out at night to offer help and advice to those sleeping rough on the streets of Spalding.

Action needed to get a grip on our mental health crisis

A mental health advocate is calling for improvements to services after seeing people ‘rushed through their treatment’.

Vanessa Browning, of Spalding based Community Mind Matters, has spoken out about issues facing the area to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

Data shown by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust (LPFT), which provides comprehensive mental health and social care services for the county, shows a significant increase in suspected suicides in young people in Lincolnshire.

It is also working to support older people after recognising a notable increase of risk in older adults in both significant self-injury and in suicidal thoughts, particularly in females.

Vanessa works tirelessly to look after those who are struggling and fears the mental health crisis isn’t going to get any better.

“Unfortunately, I can’t paint a happy picture about it,” she admitted.

Vanessa Browning (48824316)
Vanessa Browning (48824316)

“I feel that people are so rushed through their treatment and some of the things I have seen have really shocked me.

“People who are in crisis need immediate help - but for many people all they need is someone to talk to before they reach that point. The crisis teams and doctors don’t seem to see the urgency when someone comes to them - you shouldn’t have to be in crisis to get the help you need.”

It was announced last month that a new £500,000 service that will see mental health support offered to young people in our schools.

A Mental Health Support Team (MHST) is set to be established in the Spalding area after a successful bid from local health chiefs to NHS England.

However, Vanessa, who offers help through group activities and solo talks at her bench in Ayscoughfee Gardens, says that she has serious fears for the future.

She said: “It really is terrible and I have seen a lot more people since Covid, definitely. I love being able to help people but I genuinely fear I would be overwhelmed if I offered more.

“I want action today - I want to make it so that people instantly get the help they need.”

As part of a Thematic Review of Suicides by the LFPT Quality and Safety Team, which focused on deaths reported between April 2019 – March 2020, data showed that 64% of deaths were male.

Chairman of South Holland District Council Paul Redgate is harnessing his position to help people - particularly men - who struggle with their mental health.

“One of the largest silent killers is male suicide and I am very aware that it is critical,” he said.

“As we come out of Covid, mental health is at the forefront of a lot of things. Those who were isolating at its fullest sense are now facing the challenge and uncertainty of leaving the house and socialising again which is incredibly daunting.

“If we aren’t careful we will see a significant increase in medical conditions coming through and this could have a serious impact on people’s quality of life.

“I am very aware personally of individuals who have been directly affected by their mental health or struggles with their wellbeing. And I am acutely aware that due to a number of constraints a lot of people are not able to meet as they did before the pandemic, either due to public transport changes or venues struggling to reopen.”

Coun Redgate, who selected Mind as his Chairman’s charity, says that while there is a wait for NHS help, we are fortunate to have community groups on hand.

He said: “Sometimes a specialist isn’t required and actually, people just need someone to listen. Just listening gives someone the opportunity to say ‘I’m not okay’.

“We need to be able to encourage people to talk - not to put a brave face on it - and people need a safe place where they are able to raise their concerns without judgement.

“That is why we are fortunate that we have people in the district who focus on this, such as Community Mind Matters and the team at Tonic Health. While these are largely in Spalding, I know this needs to be pushed to the wider area.

“ I will continue to bang the drum and welcome any opportunity to work with any groups on this.”

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