A mental health service is “insufficient” at meeting people’s needs, a health watchdog has said.
The criticism came in a Healthwatch report into services in the pandemic in Bath and North East Somerset – together with Swindon and Wiltshire, with whom the area runs services.
People consulted praised voluntary organisations but had more negative experiences with official services.
The report said that more training and support was needed.
It said the training was particularly in the areas of trauma, eating disorders and children’s services.
The report was delivered to Bath and North East Somerset’s Health and Wellbeing board on 24 January.
A central issue in the publication was that people felt it was too difficult to access services, the report said. One person told the survey: “People go from one crisis to the next. [You] can only get in hospital now if you’re sectioned.”
The report said there was “an urgent need for more trauma-informed services.”
Breakthrough, which provides specialist trauma therapy in Twerton, reported a doubling in referrals in 2021 compared to 2020.
Meanwhile, Julian House, which provides outreach for people homeless in Bath, said that everyone in their Manvers Street hostel required support for underlying trauma.
Bath Carers’ Centre said mental health had suffered during the pandemic, and that 2021 had been even worse than 2020.
The report stated: “A number of carers reported being traumatised by the experience of caring during the pandemic when support services were reduced, schools shut down, and having reduced family support.”
Several people told the survey there was a lack of services for eating disorders, and that support for this was better at Southmead Hospital in Bristol than at Bath’s Royal United Hospital.
The Healthwatch report also highlighted the findings of a recent Youth Connect South West report which raised the need to signpost services for children and young people so they know what they can access.
One young person said: “We need more help and more education surrounding help and where to find it.”
Issues young people had with the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service were also raised. Some young people found its Keynsham location inaccessible and the waiting times too long.
Waiting times was one of the main themes in the barriers to accessing mental health services.
Dine Romero, the chair of the board and the council’s cabinet member for children, young people, and communities, said she “welcomed” the findings of the report.
“We recognised that mental health partners for this area […] need to work together to improve people’s experience of those using mental health services.”