The Community Mental Health Survey, receiving responses of over 17,000 people, revealed that nearly half of community mental health service users reported that their wellbeing had deteriorated due to changes made to their treatment over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey results showed this has been especially true for people with more challenging non-psychotic conditions, as well as cognitive impairment and dementia disorders, who reported worse than average experiences compared to those with ‘psychotic disorders’.

‘Services need proper support to be able to meet current challenges’

Analysis of the data also showed that people who received telephone-based remote care reported worse than average care experiences. Although, patient rating for those in charge of their care was largely glowing, with 96% replying that they knew the person organising their treatment and a further 90% said that their experience of this person was ‘quite well’ or ‘very well’.

Other findings include:

  • Over a quarter of people (26%) did not know how to contact someone out of hours.
  • Almost a fifth of people (17%) reported care and services were not available when they needed them.
  • Only 56% of people felt they were given enough time to discuss their needs and treatment.
  • Just two in five (41%) replied they had ‘definitely’ seen enough of the services they relied upon.

Jemima Burnage, CQC’s deputy chief inspector and lead for mental health, highlighted the importance of receiving prompt access to support to prevent an individual's mental health from deteriorating. She further added that the findings of the survey reflect the extraordinary challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, she referenced NHS policy commitments and legislative changes to service provision, which have the potential to achieve better user experience and care outcomes.

Ms Burnage said: “The pandemic has placed severe strain on all health services and the staff working in them, including mental health services. The negative impact of working under this sustained pressure, including anxiety, stress and burnout, cannot be underestimated. As we have previously reported, people’s experiences of mental health services were poor prior to the pandemic, which is why it has never been more important that services are given the right support to be able to meet increased demand.”

"The NHS Long Term Plan made a number of commitments for mental health services, some of which have been implemented, and this work must continue, so people are able to access the right care when they need it. The development of Integrated Care Systems is also a vital opportunity for mental health services to become more joined up with other services, improving outcomes for people with long-term mental health conditions and achieving true parity of esteem between physical and mental health."