NHS Chief Warns Of Mental Health Crisis

Mental illness is on the rise in the Sussex town of Crawley, according to a health boss. Lisa Rodrigues, the chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, said the demand for services is greater than ever before. This comes just two weeks before work is due to begin on the new mental health hospital in Langley Green.

Mrs Rodrigues said: “One in four adults, and one in three teenagers, will use the mental health services at some point in their lives.” She revealed Crawley was regarded as the best site for the mental health unit because there is a higher need for services in the town compared with other areas of Sussex.

Mental illness includes depression, anxiety, psychosis – including schizophrenia – eating disorders, Asperger’s syndrome,autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. At present, there is no in-patient care in the town for people suffering from mental illness.

Statistics released by the trust reveal 40 per cent of patients who visit their GP are suffering from mental health problems. Mrs Rodrigues said: “Mental health problems are closely related to alcohol and drug use – people often self-medicate with them in order to cope with their problems.”

The £14 million hospital, planned for Martyrs Avenue, will have four wings – one secure – and will house 69 adults between the ages of 16-65 suffering from mental illness. It will care for people sectioned under the Mental Health Act as well as voluntary patients. When work is completed on the unit in Crawley in June 2008, the mental health wards at Horsham Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath, will be closed.

Mrs Rodrigues said: “The most worrying trend is the increase of mental illness among young people. The pressures on young people today are far greater than years ago.Bullying plays a large part.”

The trust provides support for the mentally ill via a Crisis Team and Assertive Outreach Team. The Crisis Team focuses on helping people in their own homes and the Assertive Outreach Team deals with people who need help but do not approach the trust themselves. This usually includes people suffering from a psychotic illness.

Back in May, when the council approved the plans, health trust chiefs assured the public that no dangerous people would be placed in the hospital.