There’s probably a recommendation for each defined part of the population in the report from the Mental Health Taskforce as well as recommendations for government, NHS England, commissioners and bodies such as Health Education England, Public Health England. There’s also mention of the need to improve research and implement evidence-based pathways. Spending on mental health research is reported as less than 5.5% of all health research funding. NICE provides guidance on evidence-based approaches and much of their work focuses on the robustness of the research.
While this is important (we want to be able to offer and receive interventions that work), it hasn’t helped in the recognition of non-Cognitive Behavioural therapy approaches. It’s important for us as psychological professionals to recognise the range of what we offer and also to seek ways of demonstrating its effectiveness with the people who come to see us. This may require use to think about how we can work together across clinical services and academic settings to develop an effective way of demonstrating the value of what we offer. Also, there’s a need to demonstrate the importance of choice for our service users.
While some of this is emerging research, there’s a place for all of us in considering our outcomes with the people who come to see us. For some services, this is measured by a range of questionnaires that focus on symptoms. In some places, psychological professionals may ask those who come to see them what they have gained (or not?) from their experience. Occasionally, there are case series approaches that can combine both of these with an approach to seeing the impact on how the person continues to use health and social care. There are many approaches that can demonstrate our effectiveness. While they may not all lead to formal research, they are often important precursors and can provide important feedback to us as psychological professionals on how effective we are. Approaches such as session ratings can also provide feedback to us as individuals on how well we have engaged with the individuals who come to see us.
It’s important to think about how we can look at our effectiveness and engagement in our individual work and also how can we join up with colleagues to look at how we are working. We can learn from these approaches and sometimes we can develop the ideas we have into a big project that makes the guidance of the future. So what can you do in your work to learn and grow our evidence base? The report can be found at https://www.england.nhs.uk/mentalhealth/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2015/09/fyfv-mental-hlth-taskforce.pdf.