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How does east London’s mental health care hold up as NHS redresses funding?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 October 2017

Staff at Bart's Health hospitals across east London have been receiving training from young people diagnosed with mental health issues to improve their ability to help people suffering from mental health conditions. Picture: Bart's Health/Adam Scott.

Staff at Bart's Health hospitals across east London have been receiving training from young people diagnosed with mental health issues to improve their ability to help people suffering from mental health conditions. Picture: Bart's Health/Adam Scott.

© Adam Scott 2014. For consideration only, no reproduction without prior permission.

Experts believe one in six people across the UK will have a mental health crisis this week that could lead to them developing a serious disorder.

It is a shocking figure, and one that explains why the NHS has in recent years focussed on redressing the balance between mental health and physical health funding.

In east London, the primary providers of mental healthcare are the North East London Foundation Trust – but there are a vast wealth of other organisations and individuals out there working to support those people working to improve their own mental health.

The latest available data from Public Health England, from April this year, indicates east London actually suffers from common mental health disorders less than most of the capital.

Data compiled by each borough’s clinical commissioning group indicates that 16.4pc of Londoners suffer from more common disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, or panic attacks.

Mental health life coach Nish Zala. Picture: Ken Mears Mental health life coach Nish Zala. Picture: Ken Mears

But here in east London, that percentage can drop as low as 14.3pc in both Havering and Redbridge, and never surpasses the 15.7pc mark set by Barking and Dagenham.

So how exactly are east London’s mental healthcare professionals managing to keep ahead of the curve?

At Bart’s Health, the NHS trust serving Newham, Tower Hamlets and western Redbridge, young people diagnosed with mental health issues have been brought in to help train hospital staff to better support patients going through mental health crises.

The trust, which operates Newham, Whipps Cross and Royal London hospitals, ran a survey which found one in five staff members constantly encountered young people with mental health conditions.

And so Bart’s Health developed a new training framework, the first within the NHS, that saw nurses and healthcare assistants take part in one-day sessions led by people diagnosed with mental health conditions to help them get better at addressing mental health issues.

Grace Jeremy, 24, is a young advisor with Common Room – one of the mental health organisations that helped put together the training plan alongside Healthy Teen Minds, to help hospital patients who might feel ashamed at attending A&E and unworthy of a doctor’s time.

She added: “People in a mental health crisis attending A&E want exactly what anyone attending A&E would want; appropriate care, to be involved in decisions, empathy, understanding and a non-judgmental approach.

“From what I have seen and heard in the sessions staff really care and want to support people better, and I am thrilled to be helping to make this happen.”

A quick guide to maintaining your mental health. A quick guide to maintaining your mental health.

Christine Fogarty, neonatal ward manager at Whipps Cross Hospital, said the training had been “really useful”.

She added: “I hold a senior position and I’ve not had mental health training before. I can see how this will be really useful when caring as well as in supporting my staff to do so.”

Across east London, there has also been a rise in independent enterprises recognising the importance of mental health and doing their best to help.

One such individual is Nisha Zala, pictured left, from Collier Row in Havering, an award-winning life coach who had to beat her own personal demons before helping others vanquish theirs.

Mental health disorder breakdowns, borough by borough. Mental health disorder breakdowns, borough by borough.

As a teenager, Nisha was a self-harmer battling depression and anxiety alongside a whole host of other self-esteem issues as a result of being bullied at school.

But, after years of hard work and discipline, she was able to turn her life around, and in 2014 was officially certified as a life coach by the Association of Professional Coaches, Trainers and Consultants.

And the 36-year-old is clear on the steps people can take to improve their mental health.

“The first thing you have to do is really learn how to love yourself,” she said.

“It’s important to remember if you’re struggling that you do have a place in this world – then you can start to value yourself for who you are.

“After that, it’s about finding the strength that everyone has inside them to face up to what’s causing the problems in the first place.”

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