A report set up by charity Rethink Mental Illness has found that people suffering schizophrenia have been let down by the state of care.
The commission, made up of 14 experts who review how outcomes for people with schizophrenia and psychosis can be improved, found that dramatic changes are required in the way this illness is treated, and some of the care provided on mental health wards is described as 'shameful'.
The Abandoned Illness shows that there are unacceptable errors in the way schizophrenic care is given, and this area of mental illness has been badly let down.
Schizophrenia and psychosis cost society £11.8 billion a year but this is in part due to lack of investment in prevention and effective care. A large focus of the care for schizophrenia is secure care, despite this being the most expensive form of care.
£1.2 billion is spent on secure care, which is 19% of the mental health budget last year, but many people are being kept too long in expensive units when they are well enough to start back on the route to the community. This is because the focus is not on rehabilitation, but a quick fix to the problem. The report suggests funding redirected from secure units to strengthen community-based provision and prevention programmes.
Other facts showing lack of helpful support are:
Only 1 in 10 of those who could benefit get access to true CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) despite it being recommended by NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence). Âƒ
Only 8% of people with schizophrenia are in employment, yet many more could and would like to work.
Only 14% of people receiving social care services for a primary mental health need are receiving self-directed support (money to commission their own support to meet identified needs) compared with 43% for all people receiving social care services
The report also found that families have been overlooked. Families who are carers for people with schizophrenia are save the public purse £1.24 billion per year but are not receiving support. The family members as well as service users do not tend to talk about the condition as 87% report experiences of stigma and discrimination.
Some of the urgent changes that the commission suggests to improve this area of care are to increasing access to psychological therapies in line with NICE guidelines, as presently these are not available to most sufferers.
Improving the training of all mental health staff as well as monitoring the delivery of routine physical health assessment and intervention will help to deliver effective physical health care to people with severe mental illness.
The best way to help this area is to create a much stronger focus on prevention, which includes clear warnings about the risks of cannabis. This would also raise awareness of the illness in general which would help people who are discriminated against, and get rid of the stigma attached to schizophrenia.
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