Good mental health is key to everyone’s wellbeing. The fact that 1 in 4 adults experience at least one mental health problem in any given year suggests that it is a prevalent and enduring issue.

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire (HWCB) hears regularly from people with mental health issues. Their feedback and experiences have prompted HWCB to prioritise work in this area and further strengthen the evidence from a local perspective.

From information and feedback gathered from local residents it would appear that service users in Central Bedfordshire have experienced a reduction in low level support services over the last five years, with some organisations reducing their offer of services considerably. In addition, we have seen a decline in patient engagement activity by the lead mental health provider, East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), across Central
Bedfordshire. This has led to concerns being raised by service users, carers, their friends and family and other service providers. It is therefore great to see that ELFT are inviting service users, carers and their families to a Mental Health Services Forum on 9th July in Biggleswade.

HWCB previously advised ELFT about our concerns, highlighted above, and it was agreed that HWCB would facilitate an engagement project with service users across Central Bedfordshire to gather additional feedback on their experiences of mental health services and support. What we did and what more can be done, along with what happens next, are outlined in our report.

Talking Out Loud May 2019