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 (subsequently merged into one: Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group). 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.

Report Success:

Working with service users with Mental Health Needs

The joint Reading Advice Network/Healthwatch Reading report, produced as a result on the Reading Advice Forum of 30th May 2017 (detailed above), was submitted to the Reading Health & Wellbeing Board on 18th January 2019.

The Health & Wellbeing Board comprises representatives from Reading Borough Council and Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, who jointly accepted the RAN/Healthwatch Reading report.
The H&WB Board noted five primary issues, all of which they agreed linked to the Board's joint priorities:

  • Issue 1): Poor interaction between the statutory and 3rd sectors
  • Issue 2): Inadequate 3rd sector funding
  • Issue 3): Perception that some frontline statutory staff did not provide adequate or appropriate support at the client’s first point of contact
  • Issue 4): Clients did not know where to go for help, particularly at times of crisis
  • Issue 5): Little resource for professional development within the 3rd sector

Download the original RAN/Healthwatch Reading report, produced as an outcome of the Reading Advice Forum

Download the report presented to the Reading Health & Wellbeing Board

Download the Official Response to our report – Executive Summary

RAN Forums aim to give our members and the wider 3rd sector community a platform to raise issues around social policy/injustice. The role of RAN is to facilitate these Forums and to escalate the issues raised at them to the appropriate body/ies for comment and/or action.
Our Forum on "Working With Service Users With Mental Health Needs" was held back in May of 2017; RAN Members and attendees raised 5 important issues they wished to escalate. In the following 21 months, RAN continued to champion this report and to work with various statutory and non-statutory groups to push this issue forwards on behalf of our membership.

During this time a number of changes and improvements to services have been made and we are now in receipt of the official response to our report. The report in full is available here, together with our Executive Summary of its content.

If Members or other organisations have any comments about this response we would like to hear from you – please Contact Us.