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Jul
14
2014

Mental health intelligence network
by

I attended the launch of the Public Health England pilot website a few weeks back – the National Mental Health, Dementia and Neurology networks. I found the event interesting, partly because I was involved in the PHE consultation report to gather people’s views  on the design and accessibility of the site, but also because I am keen to use this tool myself to campaign for change in my locality. Waiting times for therapy are at least 9 months where I live and this needs addressing urgently.

Speakers at the event included a service user voice, a commissioner, a local councillor, campaigners and the Clinical Directors of the three networks – mental health, dementia and neurology. Some speakers were optimistic about how useful the website would be, while others were more cautious – one speaker asked whether the website would influence the behaviour changes we need to improve systems. This website may very well give people the data needed to fight for change but improvements in health and social care are dependent on other factors such as how well those in positions of responsibility work with each other, and whether they listen and act on what campaigners are saying.

It was interesting to hear from the three mental health pilots (Liverpool, Devon and East London) about how useful they had found the website, what the data could be used for in terms of commissioning services, and anything that did not work so well. The team from Devon praised the mapping tool as it had allowed them to compare Devon with other parts of the country and suggested they would use the tool on an ongoing basis for service evaluations.

Mark Brown (One in Four magazine) gave the lived experience voice. Mark felt there was a real need to show the public how to use the data on this site – “to turn numbers into stories” and how he wanted to see “real life implications of the data”. This is something that came through strongly in our consultation. Many participants just did not understand the way the data was presented and some asked for tools to show them what could be done with this information. There were also concerns over data quality – something a colleague at McPin heard about at a recent event with gaps in data sets presenting huge challenges.

In the afternoon I attended a workshop run by the Expert Reference Group working on the ‘Common Mental Health Disorders” part of the website. They have developed 14 indicators to add to the site. These included

–   Estimated prevalence of Common Mental Health Problems.

–   Spend on psychological therapies and

–   Percentage of people receiving incapacity benefit linked to mental health problems.

This is one website I will be coming back to – to see how it develops, whether it evolves taking up the suggestions made in our consultation and what data I can personally use to campaign for change in my locality. I encourage you to take a look too!