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Travelling for mental health care "impossible" says Christian blogger

Tue 09 Feb 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A Christian blogger has told Premier that expecting mentally ill people to travel miles to be treated is "impossible" in many cases. 

Emma Scrivener, a Christian writer and blogger on mental health, told Premier's News Hour that it is "crucial" that churches get involved if around 500 mentally ill people every month are estimated to travel more than 30 miles to be admitted to hospitals far from their own homes.

2013-14 1.7 million people in England used mental health services

105,270 were admitted to hospital

 2011-12 NHS spend £6.63 billion on adult mental health services in England 

Emma Scrivener said: "What you don't see behind the headlines are the families that are also affected.

"In order to support their loved ones, they need to be supported themselves.

"This is a crucial area where the church community can really get alongside and help in the long term as well as in the short term."

The practice of sending mentally ill people long distances for treatment should end, according to a special commission.

Experts branded some services "potentially dangerous" after a new independent commission led by Lord Nigel Crisp and supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists revealed that thousands of people in England each year are "travelling unacceptably long distances for acute admissions".

They called for the practice to end by October 2017.

Emma Scrivener said that the decision to seek help can be a challenge in itself: "Even getting the courage to go up to a doctor to get a referral may take months of pysching themselves up for it.

"To then go and be told that the help that you need is at the other side of the country when you may be feeling suicidal, depressing, in many cases you may be asking people to do what's absolutely impossible."

She said the church can play a key role in helping: "It's absolutely crucial that churches get involved.

"The churches can only provide help and support when acute care is needed, but [should also have a] long term a loving community of people who can not only support those who are struggling, but those who are caring for them as well."

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speak to Emma Scrivener here:

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