I heard someone talking in the queue in a supermarket: “There are so many people with mental health problems these days, where is it all coming from?”
It is true that mental health has been more prominent in the media this year with many celebrities and members of the royal family openly taking about their struggles with mental health.
However, for service users, their carers and people who work in mental health, this openness and debate about stigma, availability of services and funding was long overdue.
For Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT), 2017 was a memorable and important year.
Following an inspection from Care Quality Commission (CQC) in April, the trust improved our overall rating to Good, with services for children and young people being rated as Outstanding.
This progress would not have been possible without a real commitment of our staff and input from service users, carers and volunteers who helped us to introduce innovations such as 1960s themed rooms on our dementia wards, triangle of care which puts greater emphasis on carer involvement and employing people with lived experience of mental illness who support the recovery of our service users, just to name a few.
The CQC inspection also highlighted a large number of people receiving care outside of Lincolnshire as something that they particularly wanted us to improve on.
We have been working with our commissioners and in July we opened the Hartsholme Centre – a new psychiatric intensive care, 10-bed male ward for people who are at their most vulnerable and require focussed support.
If someone is experiencing mental health crisis, being away from their family and friends is far from ideal.
The support of loved ones can make a big difference and being close to home ensures that this support can continue.
Next year we will keep working on bringing care closer to where our patients live and making sure the support is available to avoid hospital altogether.
In 2017 LPFT also celebrated our 10th anniversary as a foundation trust and that made me think how our approach to mental health has changed over the last decade.
There is more emphasis on empowering people to be in charge of their own health and the trust continues to develop services which support self-care, or offer early help to prevent problems from escalating.
The Managed Care Network – a collective of groups and organisations offering activities which help people experiencing mental health problems stay well and develop support networks – awarded a new wave of funding in October.
Together with local authority, we have also introduced Healthy Minds Lincolnshire which offer emotional wellbeing support for young people and advice for teachers, parents and carers.
I think the future of mental health services will be about supporting people in their communities while ensuring that hospital care is there when needed.
Looking ahead to next year, the NHS will be celebrating its 70th anniversary and I think we should use this opportunity to think how we can make the NHS sustainable for another 70.
During festive period spare a few thoughts to staff working to provide 24/7 services because it’s these people who make the NHS the great.
New Year’s resolutions
Personal: I’d also like to find time to be mindful and help me look after my own mental health.
Professional: I’d like to ensure patients and public have a greater voice in improving services.