Where do community mental health services fit into integrated care systems (ICS)?

Forensic Mental Health, Info for Commissioners

Since 2018, relationships between strategic care partners – the NHS, local councils, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors – have grown, leading in many cases to better and more convenient health services for people in the UK.

Such was the perceived success of this system, one goal of the NHS Long Term Plan was to ensure all areas of the UK were served by an Integrated Care System (ICS) by April 2021.

Here at Bridge, we acknowledge that the initiative for integrated care systems is a step in the right direction, but where do community mental health services fit in?

Integrated care systems could be an opportunity to grow community mental health services so fewer people end up unnecessarily in hospital or prison, but they’re falling short. Here’s why.

What are integrated health systems?

According to the NHS website, “Integrated care is about giving people the care they need, joined up across local councils, the NHS, and other partners.”

The idea is that by removing barriers between hospital and family doctors, physical and mental health, and different partners, care services will be less disjointed, easier to coordinate and inequalities of care between different groups will be reduced.  

What are the benefits of integrated care systems?

Joining up care services makes complete sense. Being able to take advantage of different perspectives and expertise, and reducing needless red tape and boundaries is a step towards a more effective service for our clients.

We also welcome the fact that integrated care systems promote local decision making. This means partners can create services to meet the needs of their specific communities.

Why integrated care systems don’t go far enough

The problem with the integrated care system is the “work together” plan has been formulated without properly engaging community services as a vital link in the chain.

By missing this vital piece, many people miss out on the opportunity to get the support they need to recover from mental health problems.

When it comes to mental health services in the UK, too many people end up in prison or in hospital unnecessarily, or they stay there longer than they need to. For many, the care they receive in these facilities does not support their recovery plus the expense of maintaining people as in-patients puts an extra burden on the taxpayer.

There is another option. At Bridge we facilitate a range of community mental health services to meet the various and complex needs of our clients.

Research, and our experience providing community mental health services for the last 20 years, have shown community care works. We can teach people the skills required to live confidently in the community with support where it is needed. Our clients recover from their mental ill-health and become contributing members of society.

Getting the support they need in the community means our clients are far less likely to reach the crisis point that leads them back to hospital, and people with a forensic history are far less likely to end up back in prison.

How could we use integrated care systems to grow effective community mental health services?

Integrated care systems are a step in the right direction. We welcome professionals from different organisations joining together to support people with mental health problems work towards recovery. But by not properly involving community services in the planning of the integrated care systems, it’s a missed opportunity for our potential clients, our communities, and the taxpayer.

Involve Us, Talk to Us, Work With Us

We know that the answer to mental health problems lies mainly in the community and not always in hospitals.

For more information about Bridge community mental health services, visit our website, or contact us. Thank you for your support. 

Visit us on social media

13 hours ago
Integrated care systems could be an opportunity to grow community mental health services so fewer people end up unnecessarily in hospital or prison, but they’re falling short. Here’s why: https://t.co/1xJ1zmHFM3 #bridgesupport #everymindmatters #mentalhealthrecovery https://t.co/BhThGcpHaB BridgeMH photo
2 days ago
Criminals in England and Wales are being jailed for short terms that fail to prevent reoffending because of a lack of awareness and availability of community-based sentencing, a leading former magistrate has said. https://t.co/iBuZYx8tqh #mentalhealthawareness #bridgesupport https://t.co/602FTVrV1E BridgeMH photo
3 days ago
World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October, and for 2021 we will be highlighting “mental health in an unequal world” Find out more: https://t.co/U3QakW9S9y #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthsupport #bridgesupport #everymindmatters #mentalhealthrecovery https://t.co/WVoQYKdQA2 BridgeMH photo
5 days ago
Covid’s toll on mental health of children and young people laid bare in report citing fears about the future, family and lockdowns: https://t.co/rTKtPYohi9 #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthsupport #bridgesupport #everymindmatters #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthrecovery https://t.co/mnz636WMCh BridgeMH photo
1 week ago
At Tilt, we have a strong track record of achieving astounding results. Reoffending rates are low – 1.46% pa over the last five years. On average clients move on to less supported accommodation after 26 months. Find out more: https://t.co/sgHljano1L #mentalhealthrecovery https://t.co/YCZx9yl2qF BridgeMH photo

24 Hour Support

Medium Support

Flexible Community Support

Forensic Services

Recovery College

Women Only

How you can work with us

As well as the normal tendering process, you can commission our forensic services in the following ways:

  • Use our contact form
  • Pick up the phone to speak to us on 020 8298 9677
  • Email us to discuss spot contracting OR delivery of a bespoke service that meets your needs