Increasing access to mental health care

Scientists at the University have launched a new community service to improve access to mental health care for older patients and people from ethnic minority communities.

Liverpool communities can take part in a new programme that focuses on practical solutions to mental health problems as identified by the patient rather than psychological therapies identified by a doctor or therapist. People living in Picton, Granby, Croxteth and Norris Green can request a health assessment, at a location convenient to them, and join a programme of activities designed to help patients become more connected to their social surroundings.

Professor Chris Dowrick, from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: “We have assigned ‘well-being facilitators’ to each neighbourhood to help people set and achieve goals that make sense to them. The goals can be anything from becoming more socially active by joining a reading group or going to the gym, to cooking a meal for the family three times a week. We know that small practical steps like these really help people improve their health and wellbeing.”

Researchers have shown that in Liverpool, the Somali community and people over 50 years old are not served effectively by current primary care programmes for mental health conditions. It is thought patients from Picton, Granby, Croxteth and Norris Green may struggle to access information on mental health conditions that are relevant to them. The new programme will provide development in community healthcare, education for GP practices, and tailored methods of support for individuals living in the area.

Professor Dowrick added: “Our research suggests that rather than psychological therapies, patients would rather learn practical exercises to help them overcome daily struggles. Many older people, for example, feel alone and isolated. People from the Somali community may find it difficult to adapt to British culture and experience barriers in language.”

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