How many secure mental health beds did you say there were?

“A teenager who was a risk to himself and the public could not be found a secure mental health bed for a month in England, Scotland or Wales, his father claims.”

So what’s the real story? How many secure beds are there? For young people?

I have trawled through 46 NHS Trusts, looking for Forensic units for children and adolescents. Wikipedia describes Forensic thus:

Forensic psychiatry is a sub-speciality of psychiatry and is related to criminology. It encompasses the interface between law and psychiatry. A forensic psychiatrist provides services – such as determination of competency to stand trial – to a court of law to facilitate the adjudicative process and provide treatment like medications and psychotherapy to criminals.

United Kingdom

In the UK, most forensic psychiatrists work for the National Health Service, in specialist secure units caring for mentally ill offenders (as well as people whose behaviour has made them impossible to manage in other hospitals). These can be either medium secure units (of which there are many throughout the country) or high secure hospitals (also known as Special Hospitals), of which there are three in England and one in Scotland (The State Hospital, Carstairs), the best known of which being Broadmoor Hospital. The other ‘specials’ are Ashworth hospital in Maghull, Liverpool and Rampton hospital in Nottinghamshire. There are also a number of private sector medium secure units, which sell their beds exclusively to the NHS, as there are not enough secure beds available in the NHS system.

Forensic psychiatrists often also do prison inreach work, in which they go into prisons and assess and treat people suspected of having mental disorders; much of the day-to-day work of these psychiatrists comprises care of very seriously mentally ill patients, especially those suffering from schizophrenia. Some units also treat people with severe personality disorder or learning disabilities. The areas of assessment for courts are also somewhat different in Britain, because of differing mental health law. Fitness to plead and mental state at the time of the offence are indeed issues given consideration, but the mental state at the time of trial is also a major issue, and it is this assessment which most commonly leads to the use of mental health legislation to detain people in hospital, as opposed to their getting a prison sentence.

Learning disabled offenders who are a continuing risk to others may be detained in learning disability hospitals (or specialised community-based units with a similar regime, as the hospitals have mostly been closed) as suffering from “mental impairment” in England and Wales, and without use of that term in Scotland. This includes those who commit serious crimes of violence, including sexual violence, and fire-setting. They would be cared for by learning disability psychiatrists and registered learning disability nurses (RNLD). Some psychiatrists doing this work have dual training in learning disability and forensic psychiatry or learning disability and adolescent psychiatry. Some nurses would have training in mental health also (RMN and RNLD).

The ones listed by Wikipedia are for adults. Children and young people need them too.

Here is what I found: 

Gardener Unit, Prestwich Hospital, Manchester 

10 beds. Boys only. Medium Secure

“Gardener Unit provides care for young people with serious mental illness or concern of a significant psychiatric disorder with significant levels of risk. These will be young people who require assessment and/or treatment and/or rehabilitation, and who could not otherwise safely receive this in a non-secure hospital setting or custody setting. The service aims to maximise young people’s hope about their future, enabling them to develop safe indepentent living and promoting opportunities for positive achievement. The unit is recovery-oriented with recovery being client-centred. The Gardener Unit team recognise the unique and diverse needs of young people and provide quality residential care.

The Gardener Unit is one of a number of medium secure adolescent forensic units across the country providing highly specialised care in a secure environment.  The unit contains ten beds and is for boys between the ages of 11 and 18 years. Within the unit is a purpose built intensive care facility”


The Wells Unit, Regional Secure Unit, Uxbridge Road, Southall UB1 3EU

10 Beds. Boys only. Secure

“The Wells unit is a ten bed male inpatient unit for adolescent young men aged between 12 and 18 years, which is part of the secure forensic mental health service for young people.

We provide a highly specialised, multi-disciplinary assessment and treatment service for young males aged between 12 and 18 years with severe mental illness who are a danger to themselves or others, and who may have committed criminal offences.

There is no catchment area as the beds are part of a national service.”


Alnwood, St Nicholas Hospital, Jubilee Road, Gosforth, Newcastle upon TyneNE3 3XT

22 Beds. Mixed. Medium Secure

“Ashby is a 9 bed unit providing comprehensive assessment and treatment for young people aged 12-18 with complex mental health disorders and a requirement of a high level of supervision in a medium secure environment.

Wilton is a 6 bed unit providing comprehensive assessment and treatment for young people aged 12-18 with complex mental health disorders and a requirement of a high level of supervision in a medium secure environment.

Lennox is a 7 bed unit providing comprehensive assessment and treatment for young people aged 12-18 with complex mild to moderate learning disability and a requirement of a high level of supervision in a medium secure environment.

Referrals are accepted from specialist mental health teams regionally, nationally and internationally. Informal enquiries are welcomed and advice can be given by telephone prior to referrals.”

The article I was looking at says there are 1,440 hospital beds, many of which are 50 miles apart. I have found 42 within the Medium to Secure range. That either means that I haven’t been able to find them all in the few hours I’ve been researching this, all the other beds are non secure, or, there simply aren’t enough beds.

My next thought was: how many children offend and how many of those are classed as being a mental health risk? I am hoping (not very confidently I admit) that there isn’t much need for high security child detention.

I’ve found some crime figures for Youth Offending from the Ministry of Justice. I haven’t been able to find mental health figures, but that can be worked out logically. The custody population 2016/2017 for males under 18 averaged at 925 per month. The average for females under 18 was 36 per month. Which makes 959 people under 18 each month. One in 4 people suffer from mental illness, so a quarter of that total is  239.75 people who may need mental health treatment.  Not all of them will need to be hospitalised, but 42 beds still sounds scarily low.

We are talking here not only of the care and safety of the offenders, but also the safety of other people. Surely the argument that other people may be at risk should make more mental health beds (secure and otherwise) for children a priority?

Confession time. I have violent tendencies. Towards myself mostly. But there have been 2 occasions in my life when other people were hurt. People I loved.

So this isn’t just some do-gooder spouting off. I sort of know a bit about how depression and addiction can spiral out of control.

Prison for me is a “yet”. I haven’t been there yet. I could have though.















Me, anxiety and panic attacks.

Part 1. Mobility Anxiety.

This article from the Telegraph describes me.

I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember. Social anxiety and mobility anxiety were overwhelming as a child. This has developed in to an anxiety bordering on agoraphobia in recent years.

I’m not sure that Mobility Anxiety is a thing. If it isn’t, or its medical name is something different, this is my way of describing what happens to me.

Lets start at the beginning. As a baby I was seriously ill. When I was well enough to return home I am told that I couldn’t sit up properly. I was just over a year old but I was just like a newborn. This is where what I call my “mobility” anxiety stems from. My physical development was pushed back to age 0 but my intellectual development was about a year and a half old.

In the physical sense I had to learn everything again. I don’t remember any of this, but I was told that after my illness, when I was learning to walk, I refused to do so unless I was holding something. I think I had a fear of falling. Or this might be to do with the fact that my illness caused damage to the part of the brain which governs movement, balance and coordination. Anyway, I struggled, physically.

Even now I have moments where my brain tells my body “No, I am not going to do this”. Or is it my body telling my brain? I literally freeze on the spot. I remember one winter when it snowed for about a day and then for a week or so afterwards all the local roads and pavements were covered in ice. I was on my way to the train station to get to work. I had been tentatively making my way between the icy bits to safer ground, even if that safe ground was the road. The 5 minute walk lasted a lifetime. All I had to do next was negotiate the corner, cross the road and walk up to the steps to the platform. But the corner, for me, was impassable. All the impacted snow had turned to slippery ice, and all the people who had gone before me had made the ice even more impacted and slippery. I tried, I really did, but my fear of falling took over. I froze. I couldn’t move. Anywhere. Ahead of me was ice, behind me was ice that I really didn’t want to walk on again. I could see a patch of road that might be safe but couldn’t get to it. So I sat on the kerbside and cried. I couldn’t go home and I couldn’t get to work and I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. My solution to this dilemma was to phone for a taxi. I can’t remember now whether it took me back home or to work, I just remember how I felt.

That is just one of hundreds of instances of my freeze mentality. And do you know how I make it worse for myself? I tell myself that I am being silly. I tell myself that there are people far worse off than me. I can walk, some people have real disabilities or spend their lives in wheelchairs. They can manage, why can’t I? This is not helpful.

Other ways this impacts me are slightly more subtle but nevertheless unnerving. These things usually only happen when I’m not concentrating, not feeling well or am already feeling anxious for other reasons.

Stairs can be a problem. Especially in public areas. I often find I need to hold on to the handrail, but in public places this is not always possible because other people are in the way or I’m caught up in a crowd. Sometimes this feeling comes over me when I’m halfway up or down. Which throws me. Waterloo station steps, in London, the ones to the main entrance are a constant cause for concern. They are wide with curvy sides. There are lots of people milling around (moving in crowds is something I’ll come to later) and because of the design of the stairs they are best approached in the middle, going straight upwards where they narrow a little, arriving at the top to walk in to the station. Another symptom for me is that I forget. If I remember, I approach the curvy handrail and slowly, in my own time haul myself up. If I have forgotten that this is the best way I approach from the middle then suddenly remember that I need to be at the edge. There are other people happily walking up and down all around me, whilst I stand there, thinking and blocking everyone’s way. So now I have double anxiety, firstly I’m in a sort of frozen moment and secondly, that moment is hindering other people. Eventually I manage to find the handrail and climb the stairs whilst feeling like a fraud.

I have an issue around personal space. I think it’s to do with my fears and my awkwardness and they create a sort of self-perpetuating cycle. If I have to attend a public event, like the theatre, cinema or a meeting, I like to get there early. This way I can get to my seat without having to negotiate my way past too many people. I am worried about treading on peoples’ feet, so the fewer people already seated the better. If I can choose where to sit I will choose the end of a row, or in a restaurant I will choose a seat where I am not squashed in the corner. Easy access is the key. In cinemas I like to get there early because I am also spooked by the dark. If I suddenly go from daylight to darkness my eyes take ages to adjust and I start to panic. Being scared and not being able to see is not a good combination! If I am going on my own, no problem, I can do what I want, but if I am with someone then I have the added complication of either making them go for the adverts (when the lights are still on) or getting incredibly anxious of the dark and treading on people if we’re a little later than I would like to be. Did I mention that I am also a people pleaser? My brain tells me that it is good to do what other people want and bad to expect other people to do what I want. Which is just plain stupid!! Even though I know how pathetic this type of thinking is, I can’t stop it.

Thank you for reading this. It has been a little difficult for me to write as it has brought up so many emotions. When I’m ready, I’ll do a couple more blogs on social anxiety, which I know already is going to be hard, and my current situation, which is sitting indoors every day and only going outside if I really have to.

Till next time


My research diary

22nd September 2017

I have decided to start using dates instead of a day count. My research is sporadic, some days I’m just not up for it. And anyway, I keep losing count!

Yesterday I was quite excited. I watched a video about the German Healthcare system. I have not corroborated the facts yet, but I found some similarities and a few differences. The point that intrigued me most was that the German General Practice system has a maximum patient limit. It also scored very highly on patients getting appointments either the same day or the next day.

I hate making appointments to see my GP.

The phone lines open at 8.30 am.  Everybody tries to phone as soon as the practice is open for business because everyone knows that everybody else is doing the same thing and they need to be quick to get an appointment. Then the line is constantly engaged because everyone is phoning……

When you get a ringtone (oh joy) it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get to speak to someone. Sometimes you just have to wait for the phone to be answered (the poor receptionist is trying to answer the phone and help patients who are in the surgery and get medical notes for the doctor….etc), or you might get put through to another receptionist who tells you that your call is on hold, please wait.

Eventually, you speak to someone. They offer available times, take your details and you’re in. Or not. “Sorry, there are no appointments for today, phone again at 8.30 tomorrow”. WHAT??!!

I can’t decide which is worse. Going through this when you are also trying to get ready for work or maybe are on speakerphone and automatic redial because you’re driving to work, or you’re at home with small children who are refusing to eat breakfast; or going through this when you are crippled with anxiety, not sleeping properly and have hauled yourself out of bed because you need to phone at a specific time. In all cases anxiety levels are bound to be high. Tempers will flare. You may start shouting at the receptionist because you are so frustrated and have lots of more important things to do and don’t have time for this but need to see a doctor. Today. You wouldn’t be phoning otherwise.

How do receptionists stay sane in this environment?

Writing this has given me an idea. (And I’ve noticed that I have deviated from my main point a little.) In my surgery, if you get told to phone again the next day, there is no guarantee that after going through the same process the next day you will be given an appointment. My idea is that a system be created to give priority to people who have phoned previously. This might get complicated and involve urgency ratings (because there have to be appointments available each day). I haven’t thought it through yet.

This is why I either don’t make the appointment at all (I’m fine, really, I don’t need to go) or if I’m desperate I use the electronic appointment system. (I have been using the electronic repeat prescription services for a few years now because getting an appointment to see a doctor to say I need more tablets was way too stressful – I suffer from anxiety). Electronic appointments are much easier, but there are only advance bookings, and sometimes advance means a few weeks away.

I think you can safely say that I don’t like the system as it is.

So in Germany a practice has a maximum number of patients. This initially excited me because the easy access to appointments appeared to be a direct consequence.

Looking in to how it would work over here, I’m not so sure now. We have a GP system where we are free to register with whichever practice we think suits us best. The practice is legally bound to accept your registration unless there are reasonable grounds not to, which must be explained. I like this, freedom of choice. This is to help people who want a GP nearer to the place they work, someone who has moved but wants to keep their family GP, or someone who feels they are not getting their needs met at their current practice.

But this freedom of choice means that practices can get oversubscribed. Which is why I can never get an appointment and when I do I have to regularly wait half an hour after the appointment time to actually get seen. And this must also have a huge impact on doctors and nurses and receptionists……..

Do we need more doctors for the growing population? Where will they come from? How long will it take to get them trained? Who is going to pay for them?

The Royal College of General Practitioners (the body which regulates family doctors in the UK) produced a report on patient access in 2015. It has some interesting arguments and can be downloaded here.

Lots of questions, not many answers. Yet.





Go Yellow for World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October every year. It’s aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world.

Our goal at CMHS UK is to challenge Mental Health services and try to improve the services which are available.  Awareness is a key factor, and raising awareness amongst young people can only help to de-stigmatise mental illness.

Children soak up information from the world around them. If they are in an environment where they are given negative views about their feelings and about talking about or sharing their worries, they are likely to view people with depression in a negative way. And if these children start to feel overwhelmed by their emotions, they will probably feel ashamed, try to hide what they feel and will not seek help.

But if we encourage an environment where talking about how you feel is acceptable, where asking for help is not considered to be a weakness, these children may still suffer from a mental illness, but they will know how to ask for help and won’t feel ashamed or different or needy.

We need our mental well-being to be equally as important as our physical well-being. 

World Mental Health Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and remove the stigma.

The charity Young Minds have created a toolkit for getting involved. As an internet community we can get involved in the following ways:

  • Wear Something Yellow
  • Hello Yellow Bunting

hello-yellow-kit-individuals-web 6

The full toolkit is available here, complete with downloadable bunting and fundraising ideas.


Happy World Mental Health Day!

My research diary

Days 5 to 9

My last blog ended by saying I was feeling anxious.

It got worse.

I had been being strong and supportive for my family. I don’t know how many other people experience this, but I have the ability to be strong and in control when other people are in trouble. So it could be being a passenger in a car and the driver taking a wrong turn and getting lost. I am mostly able to be calm and supportive and encouraging while everyone else is flapping. In my work life I was able to work for a deadline and get everything done properly and on time. In personal dramas I am able to take control of the situation, whatever it may be. It’s like I thrive on danger and adrenaline and I do things I never knew I could do.

The down side to this is after the “danger” is over. I can go from being strong and decisive one minute to being weak and vulnerable and scared the next.

I think this is what happened a few days ago. I was being strong and capable for my family, then as soon as they were feeling less vulnerable, my vulnerability soared. I know this happens, I have experienced it many times. The result is complete helplessness and fear. For a few days I try to maintain semi normal life, but I struggle. Then I give up and just zone out. My feelings are numb, I feel vacant, I experience heightened sensitivity to sound. I want to hide away and sleep forever. I want everyone to leave me alone but secretly crave help. I isolate.

And then I start coming back to life. In this instance it was a phone call from the health centre telling me I needed to book a routine appointment. The following day I went to see my GP and told her my fears and concerns. She listened, she made a suggestion about the possibility of staying with family until I felt better. I cried.

The next day I was me again. I was (and am) still tired, the experience always takes a lot out of me, but I was functioning and had emotions and wasn’t scared of people any more. My head was full of ideas, I was back in doing mode.

Which brings us to…… Continue reading “My research diary”

My research diary

Days 3 & 4

Day 3 of my research didn’t really happen. I did a couple of hours then found myself struggling.

So Day 4. There is a Foundation Meeting on the 13th September for the Tees, Esk and Wear Foundation Trust. The public are invited to participate. I have decided to find out everything I can about this trust. They produced a Quality report, which is attached below.


“The Trust provides a range of mental health, learning disability and autism services for around two million people across a wide geographical area. Within this area our main towns and cities are: Bishop Auckland, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Harrogate, Malton, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Redcar, Ripon, Scarborough, Selby, Stockton, Whitby and York and there are numerous smaller seaside and market towns scattered throughout the Trust’s geography.”



“Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust was created in April 2006, following the merger of County Durham and Darlington Priority Services NHS Trust and Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust.

In July 2008 we achieved foundation trust status under the NHS Act 2006. As a foundation trust we are accountable to local people through our Council of Governors and are regulated by Monitor, the health sector regulator.

In June 2011 we took over the contract to provide mental health and learning disability services to the people of Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire. On 1 October 2015 we took over the contract to provide mental health and learning disability services in the Vale of York.

In December 2014 we were awarded the ‘Gold Standard’ by Investors in People (the highest level of accreditation). This is a nationally recognised people management standard which assesses how well organisations manage and develop their staff.

In May 2015 our services were rated as ‘GOOD’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following the Trust-wide inspection of our services in January 2015.

We provide a range of mental health, learning disability and eating disorder services for the people living in County Durham and Darlington, the Tees Valley and most of North Yorkshire.

With over 6,500 staff and an annual operating income of over £300 million we deliver our services by working in partnership with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, a wide range of other providers including voluntary organisations and the private sector, as well as service users, their carers and the public.

TEWV serves patients across a large geographical area. Our main towns and cities are Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Whitby, Harrogate,  Ripon, Vale of York and there are numerous smaller seaside and market towns scattered throughout our patch. We are also in the catchment area for the largest concentration of armed forces personnel in the UK (Catterick Garrison).

Read more about the Trust’s achievements over the past decade in our special commemorative brochure “TEWV – the first ten years”.

We have five operational directorates, one for each of our localities (County Durham and Darlington, Teesside, North Yorkshire, Vale of York) and a separate forensic directorate.

Within each of the three local areas we have four clinical directorates:

  • adult mental health and substance misuse services
  • mental health services for older people
  • children and young people’s services
  • learning disability services

Adult mental health services

We provide mental health services to adults of working age in partnership with social care and a wide range of voluntary and independent services providers for the people of County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire and the Vale of York, including:

  • A wide range of community based assessment and treatment services including primary care, liaison, crisis intervention, assertive outreach, community affective disorders and psychosis teams and eating disorders. The Trust also provides community mental health and deafness services and adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) across Teesside, County Durham and Darlington.
  • Inpatient assessment and treatment services, including acute, intensive care, challenging behaviour, 24 hour nursed care and rehabilitation services
  • Improving access to psychological therapy (IAPT) services (working with partners) in Durham, Darlington and Teesside
  • The region’s specialist eating disorder service (for the North East and North Cumbria)

Older people’s services

We provide mental health services for older people working in partnership with social care and a wide range of voluntary and independent service providers. The services we provide include:

  • Inpatient assessment and treatment services, including acute and challenging behaviour services
  • A wide range of community based services including; mental health teams, acute liaison, care home liaison, day services and memory clinics

Children and young people’s services

This service includes all child and adolescent mental health services and early intervention in psychosis services for the people of County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire.

Services for children with learning disabilities are also provided in County Durham, Darlington and Teesside.

Our hospital at West Lane is also the base for our specialist regional North East and North Cumbria eating disorder inpatient service for children and young people.

Adult learning disabilities

We provide community and inpatient specialist assessment and treatment services to people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, autism, epilepsy and challenging behavior.

Forensic mental health and learning disabilities forensic services

Forensic services are specialist services which treat patients referred to us by the criminal justice system because of mental health or learning disabilities conditions, which have been a factor behind their offending. We provide community, inpatient and rehabilitation forensic services for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

We also provide community forensic services including criminal justice liaison services that work across the whole offending behavior pathway, for example street triage and the mental health services within all seven North East prisons.”

Here is a link to the Trust’s services:

Trust Services


This is not a good day today. I am easily overwhelmed by the amount of information available and my anxiety is rearing its ugly head. So today I will just have to accept that it’s one of those days.

My research diary

Day 2

Unable to focus

This is what I wrote yesterday:


 My plan for tomorrow is to start analysing the data I have. I can ask questions later.

Yesterday my brain was overfull with ideas. Today I am feeling tired and stressed.

But I made a promise, to myself, to my co pilot in this venture, and to the public. So I’m going to write this diary entry and get on with the rest of my day.

I went back to the My NHS site and have downloaded some data so that I can study it and present it in a more exciting way.

Then I found that you can sign up for data feeds, which I have done:


There are 3 other options but I’m just concentrating on the feeds for now.

My next idea was to revisit what I had started yesterday. I decided to start with

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Leeds and York Partnership overview

(This link will take you to the page shown on the image below)

Please don’t try to click on this, it is a screen shot!

I had a quick read of the information in each tab. The Reviews and Ratings page brought back memories of when I was under the care of my local mental health trust. Specifically the feelings of not being listened to or understood, the constant change of staff leading to repeated explanations of your story, and the criticism of crisis team.

But this is something I can work with. I can create a National list of services.

But then I started to get a bit lost and overwhelmed. There were links to the Trust Homepage, and to MindWell, which is “Mental health information for everyone in Leeds”.

I have a tendency to overstretch myself. I was like this when I was working. At work at least I had a structure and deadlines. But I would still work my socks off then wonder why I didn’t want to go to work the following Monday. I’ve lost count of the number of “breakdowns” I had at work over the years. I’m an extreme person, everything or nothing, it’s hard for me to find the middle ground.

For now I’m going to concentrate on one site, the NHS site. But it can wait until tomorrow.

My research diary

Day 1


I have decided to find out what NHS services are currently available. My plan is to go round the country (via the internet) comparing what treatments are available and maybe produce some sort of graph to illustrate my findings.  I’ve chosen Surrey and Yorkshire as my starting points, as that is where the 2 of us behind the project live. I will start with all the County towns, so Guildford and York will be first. This seems to be a good starting point. 

I’ve only just started and already it seems like a mammoth task.

I have found a reporting tool on the NHS Choices site:

Within 25 miles of York
Within 25 miles of Guildford

The first thing that is apparent is that there are only 2 Trusts within 25 miles of York, whereas the Guildford area has 4 (the image shows 2 entries, but there are 4 of 4, they just didn’t all fit on the page).  So what does this mean from a population point of view? Something else to think about…..

This report refers to crisis care in Mental Health Trusts. The columns are:

  1. Bed Occupancy Rate – the proportion of adult acute beds that were occupied by patients. The recommended average occupancy rate is 85%
  2. Proportion of admissions gate-kept by CRHT teams – percentage of inpatient admissions where alternatives to inpatient admission were properly considered beforehand
  3. Help out of hours – whether people in secondary mental health services have access to crisis care outside of office hours and whether this was helpful
  4. Proportion of people on CPA with a crisis plan in place – CPA is Care Plan Approach
  5. Delayed Transfers of care – proportion of bed days occupied by patients whose discharge has been delayed. A delayed discharge is defined in cases where someone is fit to leave hospital but remains for non clinical reasons

There are other subsections in this category, then another category called Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

Ok, so this looks like something I can do. I’m starting to feel as if I have a plan that is achievable. The no data available entries pose a problem, but I’ll work something out.

Population of York (copied from Wikipedia):

From 1996, the term ‘City of York’ describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2011 the urban area had a population of 153,717,[3] while in 2010 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 202,400.[1]

Population of Guildford (Wikipedia):

The town has a population of just over 137,000 and is the seat of the wider Borough of Guildford which had an estimated 146,100 inhabitants in 2015.

As I thought, York is larger/more populous than Guildford. If 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from depression at some time in their lives, shouldn’t each area have equal opportunities to get basic, free NHS support? 

Ok, enough for today. My plan for tomorrow is to start analysing the data I have. I can ask questions later.

My first petition

When I got involved in the campaign to improve mental health treatment, I already had a little experience of starting a petition.

It was a few months ago, I found a petition from a serving police officer who wanted the Government to consider an emergency service specifically for Mental Health:

Closed petition

Consider a Nationalised, funded Mental Health First Response Service.

UK Police Forces and NHS services now spend around 30% of their time responding to Mental Health sufferers who do not receive the best attention or assistance. A MH Service that are the first responders to Suicide risks and Sectioning requests, who can convey MH Patients to the correct facilities.

Working in the Police, it is being increasingly more and more difficult to tackle Crime and deal with Community issues, when every 3 or 4 of 10 incidents we are responding to are for Mental Health patients that require specialised help that we cannot provide.
This is tying up Emergency resourcing that can be better used elsewhere, and would provide MH patients with the best care and help possible.
Sectioning people and attending Suicide Risks would be better dealt by more a appropriate agency

This struck a chord with me. I had recently been feeling very unwell and on the verge of crisis. I had a telephone number for a crisis team attached to my local Mental Health Trust, but I didn’t have a positive opinion of the service based on the one occasion I had tried to use it. I thought this proposal to dial 999 was a good idea and signed the petition.

Then I found myself discussing petitions with friends, spoke about this one for an emergency service, and in the course of the discussion developed the idea a little further. I decided that “consider” was not enough. I wanted it to happen. Looking in to the pros and cons of the idea would be part of the process, surely? A friend’s daughter works for a Lobbying organisation and I was encouraged to start a new petition.

So here it is:

To: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

Mental health emergency service

Mental health emergency service

Create an emergency service to deal exclusively with mental health issues. To be used by members of the public on the 999 number, and to be linked to the other emergency services.

Why is this important?

At the moment I am going through a tough patch with anxiety and depression and I find myself feeling scared. I increasingly feel that I want to go to hospital, but am aware that it is much harder to become an inpatient than it was 20 years ago.
An issue I saw on the Government petition website made me think.
If long term sufferers like me, or their families, phoned 999 they could be put through to a person trained to deal with these issues. They could provide immediate support or intervention or a referral. This would free up the police and ambulance services. If another emergency service needed to be involved, this could be assessed and coordinated.
Equally, one of the other emergency services could contact the mental health team for advice or to require a physical presence by one of the team.

I shared it with my friends, added information backing up why it was needed and emailed some charities in the hope they would support it or comment on the feasibility of the idea.

I have had doubts as to where the money and the extra personnel needed would come from. The emergency services seem to be overstretched as it is.  But if you don’t ask you don’t get!

sign the petition mental-health-emergency-service

So when this new initiative to improve mental health services was first broached, I thought yes, I can help. The difference would be that this time I wouldn’t be on my own, there would be a group of us all striving towards the same goal. People who can offer encouragement, advice, knowledge and ideas.

Which brings us to now. Emails have been sent, a Facebook page has been set up (and has been noticed). This website has been created and has been noticed, not only in the UK but also America, China, Spain and Ireland. We have had lots of encouraging comments about people wanting to help and get involved.

But there is a lot of work still to do. There are probably thousands of petitions out there, all vying for the public’s attention and support.  Somehow we have to make ours stand out.

We are still fine tuning the details of the petition, but will share it here as soon as it is up and running.

As an end note, if anyone knows the person who started the petition that inspired mine, I would love to get in touch.


Get Involved

Please help us to create a case for improving the mental health care we receive in the UK:

  • Visit our Facebook Site
  • Write blogs or articles about your personal experiences with mental health and its treatment. Bear in mind that the content will be public so don’t disclose any personal details. Post them on our Facebook Page and I’ll add them to the “Our Stories Page” on this site.
  • Contact your MP. Contact details can be found at
  • Find out statistics about your local Mental Health Trust that can be shared publicly to back up our argument for change.
  • Share relevant articles or videos to our Facebook Page to help us convince other people that change is needed
  • Find out how other countries provide for Mental Health care
  • Become an admin for our Facebook site or this website.  There are only 2 of us managing this at the moment and all help will be greatly appreciated
  • Send us suggestions
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