The pandemic has created significant challenges in accessing and providing secondary mental health services in England.
THIS Institute worked with leading mental health charity the McPin Foundation and with the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry to conduct a study to understand service user, carer and NHS staff experiences of secondary mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developed in consultation with six experts-by-experience and informed by peer research methods, this project sought to understand service user, carer and NHS staff experiences of secondary mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the first phase of the study, 69 in-depth participant interviews were conducted to gather views and experiences of access and service provision.
The introduction of remote care was one of the key themes emerging from the interviews. Participants’ experiences of remote care were varied. While remote care was seen as helping to maintain some basic level of access during pandemic conditions, all three groups – service users, carers, and staff – expressed concern about aspects of care provision using phone or video. They reported that it was more difficult to establish therapeutic relationships and that assessments were more difficult. People who did not have facilities such as private space for calls and who could not afford mobile phone or broadband bills were likely to be disadvantaged. There was a strong sense that mental health services should take a tailored approach to the use of remote care during and beyond the pandemic.