More needs to be done to ensure people with mental health issues can receive support from occupational therapists.
This is according to a new report from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT), which has highlighted the importance of prevention and early intervention in tackling mental health issues, especially with regard to the growing demand for mental health support.
At present, 85 per cent of people use their GPs as their first port of call when discussing mental health problems, yet less than five per cent of mental health professionals work in GP services. This means that, for the majority of people, their mental health problems have to reach crisis point before they can access the help they need.
As such, the RCOT is recommending that occupational therapists be given more of a leading role in designing and delivering services for the future. This could be achieved by allowing them to routinely help young people with mental health problems to achieve their full educational potential, and to support working-age patients into employment.
Occupational therapists should also be involved in plans to improve the physical health of people with serious mental health problems, and in the delivery of services designed to improve access to mental health support in primary care, according to the report.
It is hoped that these steps could help to ensure that people with conditions such as depression and anxiety are provided with the guidance and support they need at the earliest possible opportunity.
Julia Scott, RCOT chief executive, said: "The evidence is clear, we can no longer afford to delay addressing people's mental health issues, and it is increasingly obvious that current services are woefully inadequate.
"What we propose is a refocusing of the way mental health services are delivered, focusing on prevention and early intervention, rather than waiting for people to reach crisis point."
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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