‘Mental health should be higher on the agenda’

Mental health needs addressing, according to Dr Peter Carter

Mental health needs addressing, according to Dr Peter Carter - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mental health issues need to be tackled as seriously as physical problems.

That’s the message from Dr Peter Carter, who leads the North East London Foundation Trust’s Early Intervention in Psychosis service in Barking and Dagenham and Havering.

The Trust is one of 10 spanning the capital to recently join the Cavendish Square Group, which aims to offer a collaborative voice for the mental health community Londonwide.

“We are trying to have the same esteem given to mental health as physical health,” Dr Carter explained.

“There is a waiting limit for cancer referrals and we have managed to get the government to have the same standard for psychosis which is a real success – but there’s more that needs to be done.

“We do see high rates in London as the stresses of living in London are much higher.”

The early intervention service in Barking and Dagenham has been running for about five years but it is in the last 24 months that it has really taken off.

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“The success its had is in stopping people in having the long-term problems of mental health by getting them back into work and back into education,” Dr Carter explained.

“We don’t just work with the patient in isolation, we work in the families as well because if they are suffering they are not going to be able to support the patient either.”

Annual World Mental Health Day, which aims to increase awareness and was held on Saturday, is something that Dr Carter believes is key to educating the wider population.

“People are always really interested and we identify some people who we can give practical tips,” he said.

“People are often struggling and if they have to wait a long time to see their GP they might give up and not bother. They can see us very quickly.”

Dr Carter, who has been working in the field for a decade, says it has come a long way.

“We talk a lot about difficulties in funding in the NHS and mental health has seen that but we are working to fix that,” he added.

To find out more about the service, call 0300 555 1030.