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The medical profession and partner agencies must work together to deliver a solid and sustainable approach to mental health in Thanet.
The message follows a mental health summit hosted by NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at the Turner Contemporary in Margate.
CCG chair Dr Tony Martin said: “We want no one to fall through the gaps – the most vulnerable deserve the best of care.”
He added: “Anyone can experience mental health issues in their life and we need to work to reduce the stigma often associated with it.
“Patients can feel reluctant to seek the support and care they need.
“In Thanet – an area with real deprivation – we want to tackle poor mental health and enable people to lead healthier and happier lives.
“The summit brought together experts in the field of mental health. We discussed problems and priorities, and now we can develop a goal for mental health services in the area, and not just a health service-dependent goal.
“We want one that requires all – including the housing services, social services, the voluntary sector and health services – to work together to empower patients for health and hope.”
The meeting was attended by patients and carers, representatives of local voluntary and community organisations, consultants and Thanet GPs.
KCC consultant in public health, Jess Mookherjee, explained the links between poor mental health, inequality and deprivation.
She went on to tell the audience that Thanet has the highest estimated rates of mental illness within Kent.
Thanet also has high levels of mixed anxiety/depression, but local people are receiving help from GPs who are referring patients to talking therapies, including counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Hospital admissions for the serious mental health disorder, schizophrenia, are particularly high in Thanet, when compared to the rest of Kent and England.
Keynote speaker at the summit was Lisa Rodrigues from the NHS Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, who talked about the barriers that exist in the effective treatment of poor mental health.
Lisa cited obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as an example, and explained that many people suffer in silence and wait years before contacting their GP for help.
She also spoke about the stigma that still surrounds mental illness and the reluctance of men to talk about their problems.
Lisa also talked about the need – with what is often a long-term condition – for the patient to have hope.
* NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group buys and plans the healthcare for the people of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.
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