Every place and space worldwide has a duty of care when it comes to supporting its community’s health and wellbeing. This goes for local government, cities, emergency services, healthcare providers, universities, and workplaces – the list is endless.
Let’s look at some examples.
Last year, the Department for Health and Social Care put forward a draft Mental Health Bill, which seeks to place more autonomy in the hands of people who require care.
Mental health charity, Mind, recently launched the ‘Blue Light Programme’ to better support people working in emergency services, after 69% of emergency responders said their mental health deteriorated during the pandemic.
And in the private sector, employee wellbeing is front and centre in the workplace. In the UK, the average Brit spends over 3,500 days working in their lifetime, which really highlights the importance of feeling healthy mentally at work. Wellbeing in the workplace helps build stronger relationships between colleagues, increases feelings of community and connection and helps people thrive in their roles. The benefits extend to employers too – a McKinsey study found that stress costs US employers $200 billion every year in healthcare costs.
As the public and private sectors place greater emphasis on wellbeing, the world will see a higher number of ways to provide effective care and support.
As we’ll explore, tech can play a vital role in the provision of mental wellbeing services.
In this blog, we’ll discuss:
- The challenges decision-makers are facing in providing valuable mental health and wellbeing support
- The widespread benefits of overcoming these hurdles
- How Hello Lamp Post is helping organisations with mental health support
The challenges in providing effective mental health care
The rising numbers of adults and children experiencing poor mental health
More and more people are living with symptoms of poor mental health. Which causes its own day-to-day challenges for these people, as well as their families, friends and peers. This also places greater pressure on care providers, like local government, healthcare systems, and blue light services.
The Centre for Mental Health estimates that 10 million people (8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children and young people) in England will need support for their mental health as a direct result of the pandemic over the next three to five years. While in the USA, it’s estimated that over 50 million people are living with poor mental health.
It’s also important to mention that this affects everyone. According to the Local Gov Association, in the UK a record number of children with mental health issues were seen by social workers last year. In fact, this number has increased by 53% in the last four years alone.
Lack of access to support
In an ideal scenario, mental health and wellbeing support will be available for all communities in society. But due to factors like stigma, location or lack of awareness, this simply isn’t the case yet, particularly for groups such as minority ethnic populations, people with disabilities and men. It’s reported that men are less likely to access psychological therapies – of all the referrals of talking therapies on the NHS, only 36% are for men.
This is where technology comes in to really help bolster access to different types of mental wellbeing care. As we’ll see further on in the blog, there are ways that councils, healthcare and emergency services, universities, employers and cities can share advice, resources and guidance with people proactively and immediately, rather than waiting for people to come to them first.
Cost of mental health care provision
The financial cost of mental health provision affects both the people in need of care and the providers of care.
With the annual cost of poor mental health in England estimated to be around £119 billion per year (and rising), it’s so important to improve care provision and ensure everyone is getting the appropriate care they need.
And as mentioned, providers of care need to consider how to make support more financially accessible for the people who need it. In the US, 22% of adults who report having poor mental health are not able to see a doctor due to costs.
So if we refer back to how technology can help. One of the most widely-recognised benefits of using digital technologies is scalability. Meaning having the ability to reach a much higher number of people, typically at a lower cost per person.
One specific way that technology can make a difference is by automating care provision typically carried out by healthcare professionals. This isn’t about replacing the human element of care systems. Technology can help enhance the fantastic work carried out by care staff. For example, by helping to share information with the public, signposting people to appropriate guidance, or collecting feedback from communities about their most pressing needs.
Reaching out to communities
Ultimately, mental health care providers need to make sure that they can support anyone in society in the best way for that individual. Typically these interactions begin with a person reaching out to a healthcare provider, charity, emergency service or authority for support. But data shows that this is ineffective. Over half of adults with a mental illness in the US do not receive treatment. Which totals over 28 million people.
So how do we combat this challenge?
To make mental wellbeing services more effective, providers must be able to support people proactively. For the general public, there needs to be ways to access instant, 24/7 care, guidance or advice in any space or place around the world. This starts with providers getting better at reaching out to communities; knowing how and where to engage them and offering services that are simple, affordable and accessible.
How does good mental health benefit communities?
There are plenty of benefits to society of good mental health.
A joint study between British and Danish researchers found that good mental health in Denmark saves the country’s economy up to $1.3 billion USD per year. This is mainly a result of people taking fewer sick days from work. The same study also discovered that there is a similar cost saving, of $1.2 billion USD, on health and social care costs due to people not using the health system as much.
In a relatively small-sized country like Denmark, these cost savings are significant. Imagine the impact of good mental health on countries with larger populations and economies, such as the UK and the USA.
Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest nations in the world – listed second in the 2022 World Happiness Report. The report takes into account factors such as healthy life expectancy, social support, and generosity in the community – which all contribute to good mental health and wellbeing.
The advantages aren’t just limited to financial savings, however. They also include:
- Reduced pressure on health and social care services and staff
- People living longer, healthier and happier lives
- Improved physical health
- Fewer suicides
- Increased productivity in the workplace (An American study reports that companies with a comprehensive employee wellbeing program experience a 24% boost in productivity)
How is Hello Lamp Post helping organisations with mental health care provision?
Case Study: North Lanarkshire Council, Scotland
Hello Lamp Post is assisting North Lanarkshire Council, the fourth largest local authority in Scotland, with delivering mental health and wellbeing support in its community.
As part of the council’s ‘Feel Well North Lanarkshire’ campaign, we’ve deployed in three locations across the region, to provide the public with a digital mental health check-in tool. The platform is available 24/7 and can be accessed by anyone, by scanning QR codes on location with their mobile phone.
Once activated, users can self-report their state of mental wellbeing by answering a few simple questions, such as:
“How do you feel today?”
“How long have you been feeling this way?”
There are different pathways any user can go down, depending on their responses. People who report feeling ‘Okay’ or ‘Bad’ will be signposted to advice from providers like the NHS, Mind and Samaritans. Those who respond feeling ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ can access these resources too, but will also be signposted to tips on how to maintain good mental health, such as enjoying local green spaces and fitness activities.
Stephen Penman, Head of Strategic Communication at North Lanarkshire Council says, “So far, 22 people [one in three] have been signposted to potentially life-saving information through the Hello Lamp Post platform. Although this might seem low, when compared to the rising numbers of suicides in the region, this number is significant.”
Hello Lamp Post is making an instant impact on the local community. In one location, a user reported poor mental health and was signposted to vital support resources within the first 24 hours of launching the deployment.
For more information about our deployment in North Lanarkshire, and to also learn about our work with the NHS, follow the link to watch our webinar ‘Who Really Cares? Transforming Digital Health and Wellbeing Services’.
So, how do you support your community with their mental health, more effectively?
Mental health and wellbeing care needs to be at the forefront of strategies from cities, local authorities, emergency services, healthcare providers, universities and workplaces. We’re already seeing every place and space start to value the importance of mental health. This societal shift will only continue to grow.
Offering services to people who come to you is no longer the most effective way to support your community. To provide the care that people truly need in today’s society, you need to be proactive. By providing care to people there, in the moment, you’ll be able to reach them in times of need and offer an accessible, simple, affordable way of receiving support, guidance and advice.
Technology’s role in this is crucial. With the help of digital platforms, engagement tools and automation, there’s so much more potential for organisations to deliver an effective care service, reduce costs, save time and support more people.
Hello Lamp Post can help you deliver more effective mental health support for your community. If you’d like to find out more about our solution, please send us a message via our contact form to chat with our friendly engagement team in either the UK or the US.