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Citizens Advice helps thousands of people with mental health problems in the North East

Feb 22, 2018

Category: News
Posted by: editor

The number of people in the North East with mental health problems who use Citizens Advice reached 7,000 last year.

On average, people reporting mental health problems in the North East needed advice on 7.6 different issues.  This is the highest figure for any region – and nearly twice as high as the same people in the London area. 

A new survey from Citizens Advice has found mental health practitioners are spending more time on non-health related issues, such as debt or housing, during appointments compared to last year.

8 in 10 practitioners surveyed by the charity said they had less time to deliver clinical care after being asked to assist with tasks like writing up debt management plans and contacting public service bodies.

Shona Alexander, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Newcastle said:

“Practical difficulties, like rent arrears, can often be more difficult to manage if you also have a mental health problem.

“This new research shows that mental health professionals are spending lots of appointment time helping patients with basic welfare problems. This is where our advice and support can make a big difference to clients, health professionals, and the NHS overall.”

Citizens Advice Newcastle is in a new partnership testing a proof of concept called Together in a Crisis. Led by Mental Health Concern and in partnership with Home Group and Changing Lives, the project helps people with people who identify as being in crisis, but who do not meet the threshold for the local NHS mental health crisis service. The service aims to reduce demands on clinical services. 

Citizens Advice Newcastle is enabling the service to give these people the advice and support they need to sort out their debt, welfare benefits, housing, employment and consumer issues.  This means that health professionals, especially in mental health care, are able to focus on actual clinical treatment and specialist care. 

Scott Vigurs, Director of Services with Mental Health Concern, said “Together in a Crisis has worked with over 250 people during the ‘testing out’ of this new and innovative service model.  Over this time, we have found that many people can feel that they are in a crisis when things build up, like benefits issues and debt.  At these times, having someone compassionate and caring who can help to make a plan, and who knows where to get the support and advice they need is often the way out of the crisis and to prevent things from getting worse.”


For more information contact:
Shona Alexander, Chief Executive,
Citizens Advice Newcastle:

Notes to editors

Citizens Advice conducted an online survey of 244 mental health practitioners from Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services from 10/01/2018 to 06/02/2018. Citizens Advice directly contacted IAPT providers across England to distribute the survey. The providers then shared it directly with practitioners via email and on social media. Citizens Advice also worked with Association of Mental Health Providers, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and The British Psychological Society to design and distribute the survey.

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