The pressures on public health systems is well lamented in the press. No matter where we look, especially around Europe, governments are facing difficult decisions on spending the public health budget. The fact is the population in Northern Europe is steadily growing, people are getting better at looking after themselves, and we are living longer. The long promoted formula for a healthier lifestyle has resulted in healthcare providers having to adapt to meet the demand on services that will enable this formula. The services citizens expect from their health system go beyond the acute care you would expect from a hospital – diet and weight control, smoking cessation, management of long term conditions, and so on.
But what about mental health? A report from CentreForum has found one in 10 young people in the UK has a mental health problem. That equates to 720,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16. To make matters worse, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) seems to be severely underfunded, receiving only 0.7% of the healthcare budget. That’s about £704M (€885M or $997M).
The frightening fact that stands out is that about 23% of children are turned away that are referred for therapy.
How can we improve this situation? One way is to delivery as much of the service our children and young adults need in the way they are used to – via their own device on whatever network they have access to.
Millennials and even younger generations are very used to accessing what information they need online. It often involves a personal device and they use their own smartphones, tablets or PCs to get what they want – fast. The fact is, our society has become used to getting information quickly thanks to broadband, mobile and wifi networks. And the same goes for services. So it seems antiquated and even in some areas inequitable to restrict a crucial service such as adolescent mental health without considering a virtual approach.
A large proportion of therapy can be delivered to a young adult in a secure, high quality way. Using a virtual approach to provide therapy has a number of benefits that will greatly enhance the service too. Convenience for the client (the service user) is a huge benefit. Take this as an example; for a young person to leave school or college to travel to an appointment during the day causes great disruption. It's inconvenient and could be costly; not everyone lives in a metropolitan area. There could also be a perceived stigma attached to walking into a clinic. ‘What if someone sees me?’ ‘What if I bump into someone I know and they talk about me?’ What might seem trivial to an adult could have devastating side effects for a young person.
Then there is the matter of high non-attendance or did not show (DNS) rates. Not only does failure to show for an appointment mean wasted time for the therapist (they could have been treating someone else), it also creates an inefficiency and a cost is borne.
I acknowledge not all aspects of CAHMS or Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) can be delivered in a virtual way. But for a majority of one to one sessions, it is far more efficient. A therapist who might normally travel to multiple locations, sometimes great distances apart, to see two or three clients in a day, can use that time to talk to double the number. I hesitate to use the phrase call-centre, but taking this approach can help tackle the 23% of children turned away, mentioned in the report.
The therapists working with our children and young adults do a fantastic job, often in difficult conditions. They are known as the Cinderella Service in the UK NHS because of the low budget they receive. Sharing the therapist expertise and giving them the tools to reach more of those in need will undoubtedly help to intervene earlier.
If you are interested in seeing how Polycom can help provide improved access to talking therapies, especially for children and young adults, please do get in touch with me. I will be only too happy to talk.
We are participating in Gamma Ball Rally IV which will see the Polycom team driving a reasonably priced car across three countries and competing with other teams to win the on-road challenges. Organised by the UK voice partner Gamma, we will be supporting two charities Action through Enterprise and SpecialEffect. A Just Giving page has been set-up to collect donations for both charities.
This year the team will be rallying from Newbury in the UK to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where a black-tie event will take place to auction the £500 cars for charity.
While there are many adventurous hurdles to overcome, such as go-karting in a makeshift course last year, the team seems to be in high spirits and cannot wait to begin their journey on 16th September.
A group of colleagues from the Polycom UK office supported Cancer Research UK for the fifth consecutive year to raise awareness of the great work that the organisation does. The Polycom team was led by Helen Simpson who initiated the programme five years ago and has led the programme ever since.
The team all took turns to walk around the track for the duration of the relay on 18 – 19 July 2015 along with hundreds of others – braving the gale-force winds that blew the gazebos over from time-to-time. The frequent British downpours tried to deter us but we kept going unfazed. Even lack of sleep couldn’t stop us or slow us down! Although some of us did decide to choose bouncing over walking for one whole lap to support another team’s charity fund.
The team raised another small amount of charity fund by hosting ‘Water or
Wine’ games at our stand where the visitors were asked to guess whether a wrapped up bottle of wine actually contains wine; they got to keep the wine if they guessed it right.
To keep ourselves awake in between the shifts, a small group of us participated in a pub quiz organised at the dead of the night. Everyone was a winner if one of you participated!
The beautiful Candle of Hope ceremony lit up Royal Ascot’s Silver Ring through the night, giving all Relayers the much needed glimmer of hope.
The team did a fantastic job taking part, we all rallied to complete our task and the team spirit was phenomenal. Here is to the next year…
Team Polycom’s charity efforts can still be supported at the official Team Polycom page on the Cancer Research UK website.