RAN’s Second Advice Forum

“Working with Service Users with Mental Health Problems”


RAN's second Advice Forum
The Forum brought together 14 different organisations which provide information, advice or support, to share their experiences of working with local people who have mental health problems.

It started with two presentations from the following Member Organisations

  • Hazel Wright – Graft (Thames Valley)
  • Rebecca Norris – Healthwatch Reading

The presentations showed the national cost of supporting people with mental health needs and explained the current NHS policy on mental health care.

Participants then split into groups to discuss their experiences, the challenges they faced and possible solutions.

The main issues raised

The groups identified five main issues:

  • poor links between statutory and voluntary organisations, which make voluntary organisations feel undervalued and not respected
  • inadequate funding for voluntary services, which leads to cuts in services, damages sustainability and does not instil client confidence
  • some statutory staff providing inadequate support at the first point of contact with a client, which leads clients to turn to voluntary services for support
  • clients not knowing where to go for help, especially in a crisis, and feeling passed around between services
  • little support for professional development in the voluntary sector, which makes it hard to handle the clients who come with increasingly complex problems

What has happened since

RAN and Healthwatch Reading jointly produced a report which brought together the experiences and evidence shared by participants and suggested possible solutions to the five issues identified.
Download: Joint RAN and Healthwatch Report from RAN’s Second Forum

The report was sent in September 2017 to Reading Borough Council and Reading’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups. It urged them to respond to the proposals and use the report to inform the way they plan, design and fund local services for people with mental health needs.

The report has not yet been considered by the Health and Wellbeing Board because there was a risk of this interfering with the Council’s commissioning process for the second round of its ‘Narrowing the Gap’ contracts. Once these contracts have been awarded in early 2018 the report will be put on the Board’s agenda.