Mental Health Essay: Barriers faced by Individuals with Psychological Issues in UK
Task: The assignment task is to write a 1500-word mental health essay on ONE of the topics given below which relate to issues covered in Part 1 of the teaching programme. You must choose ONE of the following essay titles/topics.
1. One of the founding principles of the UK Welfare State is free, universal care at the point of delivery (National Health Service Bill. Official Report of House of Commons (Hansard) 1946). Critically assess this statement.
2. Drawing on examples from one service user group (older people, people with mental health issues, people with disabilities, or people with learning disabilities), discuss the key barriers to accessing health and social care services.
3. Partnership working is seen as a ‘joined up response ‘to health and social care needs. Critically discuss with reference to one of the following service user groups: older people, people with mental health issues, or people with long term conditions/physical impairments.
4. ‘One of the founding principles of the UK Welfare State is a commitment to equality and treating equal need in the same way’ (Glasby, 2017 p119). Using examples from one service user group of your own choice, critically evaluate this statement.
It is important to consider mental health and its improvement as a better mental state assists in increasing the level of productivity of individuals and enhancing living standards (McCayet al. 2019). The mental health essaywill include discussions on various barriers experienced by people suffering from mental health issues in the UK while accessing mental health services. The different mental health service-related barriers faced will be evaluated for attaining a wider understanding of subject area. The factors resulting in the barriers will be analysed for identifying the root causes of the latter.
Mental Health and related Issues - A scenario of UK
WHO has recognised mental health as a state of mental well-being and in this state, individuals are considered to be able to realise their capabilities and contribute positively to society However, the use of the term ‘well-being’ in relation to the mental state has been debated by scholars. It has been identified that well-being is not suitable for reflecting the mental state. The proposed definition of mental health regards the mental state as a dynamic state associated with internal equilibrium that helps individuals to apply their abilities in harmony with societal values (Galderisiet al. 2017). Mental health issues or disorders have been categorised as emotional, behavioural, hyperactivity and common disorders. Emotional disorders mainly include anxiety and depression among individuals. Behavioural disorders include a repetitive pattern of violent behaviour among individuals. Such behaviour can harm individuals as well as others. Individuals with hyperactivity disorder reflect an impulsive attitude and lack of attention span. Other common disorders are mental disorders among autistic individuals, eating disorders among people and so on. 12.8% of children and young people were diagnosed with varying mental disorders in 2017 (Sadler et al. 2018). This indicates that mental health is a wider topic, and several issues related to the mental state are observed among individuals across the UK.
Barriers in accessing Health and Social Care Services
The service user groups having mental health problems considered for the identification of the barriers to services are young autistic adults, children and adolescents, women having perinatal mental illness, LCBT individuals aged 14 to 25 years and older people. The study by Crane et al. (2019) has emphasised studying the barriers faced by young autistics people while accessing mental health services. The surveys conducted for the study reflected that the patients and the care staff often could not differentiate between autistic problems and mental health-related problems. This indicates a significant negative impact on the diagnosis and treatment to be offered to the young autistics patients. Stigma has been stated as another barrier to accessing proper mental health services by autistic patients. The existence of stigma creates a negative attitude among friends and relatives. They often consider autism as a severe mental disorder, and the behavioural outcome from such perception results in the isolation of the affected ones. As a result, such patients generally prefer to keep their condition a secret to avoid unwelcome thoughts and behaviours from others. There is also lack of proper support and care system to look after the mental health needs of young autistics patients (Crane et al. 2019). In addition to the lack of professional support, these patients also face poor support from family members, friends and relatives. The combination of all these barriers makes it difficult for young autistics adults to access appropriate and required mental healthcare services.
The study by Reardon et al. (2017) has used the perceptions of the parents of children and adolescents having mental health problems. The findings indicated that parents and the patients most of the times experience systematic or structural barriers. The cost of mental health-related services has been regarded to be high, and as a result, it becomes difficult for some parents to access due to the lack of financial resources. Distances and lack of transport facilities have also been taken into account as barriers to accessing proper mental health services (Reardon et al. 2017). This reflects that parents are not able to access appropriate care services and settings in their locality and have to travel long distances to access the required services. The travel costs can add to the financial problems of the families. Barriers due to cultural and attitudinal differences have been mentioned in the study by the parents. It can be inferred from this that cultural and attitudinal differences exist among the care professionals, which in turn are limiting access to proper mental healthcare resources. This study also has presented stigma as a barrier faced during looking for better mental health services.
Women with perinatal mental health illness have been identified as another group that experiences a great extent of barriers while looking for mental health-related services. The first barrier identified is the lack of awareness among the women having the particular condition (Smith et al. 2019). The women patients and the healthcare professionals are not effectively aware of such a mental condition. This lack of awareness resulted in confusion concerning what kind of treatment must be prescribed to pregnant women so that the health of the babies is not jeopardised. This information reflects that negligence exists on the part of healthcare professionals. They represent a poor level of knowledge and competencies while dealing with mental health problems. Stigma has again emerged as a barrier to accessing mental health services by women having perinatal mental health problems. From this, it can be understood that such patients refrain from sharing their condition as it will cause shame and guilt among the service users. Inability to reflect about their mental health conditions and issues to others can be considered to be affecting the level of awareness among service users and service providers.
Young people belonging to the LGBT community face a wide range of difficulties in dealing with their mental health-related problems. Stigma and societal avoidance are the primary barriers to accessing mental health services by LGBT young people. Apart from this, lack of parental support is another barrier that impacts the self-confidence of the individuals (Higgins et al. 2021). Such individuals mainly depend on self-capabilities to find out and use services to deal with their mental health conditions. Lack of awareness and poor support from society negatively impacts the improvement of the mental health of the specific group.
Discrimination has been identified as a barrier to accessing mental healthcare services among older people. GPs have been found to create discrimination while prescribing therapies to different mental health patients. In the case of older patients, certain medications are mostly prescribed by the GPs instead of recommending other therapies like counselling, talk therapies and so on (Ageuk.org.uk, 2019). The awareness about the availability of different therapies and treatments regarding mental health is significantly low among the older people in the UK. Stigma has also been rendered as a barrier in the case of older patients. This shows that older patients and their mental health conditions are greatly neglected by society and healthcare professionals.
Factors contributing to Mental Health-related barriers
Based on the evaluations of the barriers to accessing mental healthcare services, certain factors have been identified that lead to the challenges. A low level of awareness among healthcare professionals is a factor resulting in the barriers for the patients. There is ignorance and incapability among the care staff bout the particular conditions and the suitable ways of improving the conditions. Poor knowledge of the care staff contributed to the development of discrimination within the care settings. A low level of awareness and inadequate knowledge of mental health among the patients is also a factor leading to the development of the barriers (Crane et al. 2019). The thinking system of society and traditional ideas about mental problems are directly related to the formulation of the stigmas. The majority of society still retains a negative attitude towards mental health patients. They avoid such patients and, as a result, isolate them from the social circle. In fact, society also thinks that poor mental conditions are a significant part of old age. This kind of mentality has caused discrimination, and older patients, become deprived of better healthcare services because of such societal thoughts. Therefore, it can be stated that poor awareness, lack of knowledge, skills and experience, societal thinking and poor treatment system are the factors that facilitate the establishment of the barriers identified in the above paragraphs.
The aim of this assessment is to analyse the barriers faced by people having mental health issues while accessing health and social care services. The service group elected for this assessment has been further categorised into sub-groups to attain effective evaluation and understanding. The sub-groups considered include young autistics people, children and adolescents, young people from the LGBT community, older people and women with perinatal mental health problems. Stigma has been identified as a common barrier faced by all the sub-groups during the time of availing of mental health-related care services. Other barriers that have been studied from the analysis are a poor level of awareness among patients and healthcare professionals, a negative society-based thinking system, lack of professional, parental and emotional support, discrimination and loopholes in the system or structure. The factors causing the barriers are poor awareness, lack of knowledge, skills and experience, societal thinking and poor treatment systems.
Ageuk.org.uk, 2019. Mental Health (England). [online] Ageuk.org.uk. Available at:
Crane, L., Adams, F., Harper, G., Welch, J. and Pellicano, E., 2019. ‘Something needs to change’: mental health experiences of young autistic adults in England. Autism, 23(2), pp.477-493.
Galderisi, S., Heinz, A., Kastrup, M., Beezhold, J. and Sartorius, N., 2017. A proposed new definition of mental health. PsychiatriaHungarica, 51(3), pp.407-411.
Higgins, A., Downes, C., Murphy, R., Sharek, D., Begley, T., McCann, E., Sheerin, F., Smyth, S., De Vries, J. and Doyle, L., 2021. LGBT+ young people’s perceptions of barriers to accessing mental health services in Ireland. Mental health essayJournal of Nursing Management, 29(1), pp.58-67.
McCay, L., Bremer, I., Endale, T., Jannati, M. and Yi, J., 2019. Urban design and mental health. Urban Mental Health, p.32.
Reardon, T., Harvey, K., Baranowska, M., O’Brien, D., Smith, L. and Creswell, C., 2017. What do parents perceive are the barriers and facilitators to accessing psychological treatment for mental health problems in children and adolescents A systematic review of qualitative and quantitative studies. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 26(6), pp.623-647.
Sadler, K., Vizard, T., Ford, T., Marchesell, F., Pearce, N., Mandalia, D., Davis, J., Brodie, E., Forbes, N., Goodman, A. and Goodman, R., 2018. Mental health of children and young people in England, 2017.
Smith, M.S., Lawrence, V., Sadler, E. and Easter, A., 2019. Barriers to accessing mental health services for women with perinatal mental illness: systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies in the UK. BMJ open, 9(1), p.e024803.