I have just completed Minds Mental Health survey and have some deep reservations about it. The survey is aimed at developing a far greater understanding of primary mental health care (ie GPs) and charity services.
The Goal Minds Mental Health Survey
The stated goal and parameters of the survey are as below:
Who is the questionnaire for?
The questionnaire is for anyone aged 16 years or older, with personal experience of mental health problems- either currently or in the last 12 months.
Mind (the mental health charity) would like to understand more about your experiences of mental health support provided by primary care (for example a GP or practice nurse) and charities and voluntary / third sector organisations (this could include support groups, information services, counselling or similar psychological services). However, you do not have to have used these services to take part. You can also complete the survey if you’ve tried to access these services, but did not end up using them.
Your answers will help us to understand what currently works and how support could be improved. The survey findings will be shared with researchers, policy makers, the media and organisations that provide mental health services. However, your answers will remain anonymous- no one will know who has said what.
Will this Survey Meet the Goal?
I found the survey far to generic to see how it will be helpful. The needs of people who see a GP differ greatly. Asking these questions without knowing what your requirements and mental state were at the time, seems too simplistic. By extension I fear it will result in data that is misleading.
My own personal feedback in the survey about mental health treatment was very positive as it asked about my most recent GP appointment. In that appointment I knew exactly what I wanted from the meeting and I received it. However, in my experience when I have not known (i.e. when I have been in a far darker place mentally and as such in far greater need of excellent care) my feedback would be far more mixed (one awful GP and 1 who I give a lot of thanks to).
Knowing What You Want
This idea can be extended to most things in life. If you go into a meeting clear in your mind as to what you want to achieve your chances of a positive experience are greatly increased. If you go in with no idea, your chances of receiving what you need are most certainly diminished.
This is not only true of mental health, but magnified with mental health. When you are in the depths of your mental health condition, and in particular when you are first seeing someone about it, you are almost certain to not have a clear picture in your mind as to what you want and expect to get from the meeting. You may know you want help, but you have little idea what that help should be. Perhaps medication, one of the range of talking therapies (and if so which one!), being signed off work, mindfulness, etc.
How Important is it?
My fear is that Minds Mental Health Survey will use my positive experience to dilute someone elses poor experience. However the reality being that the importance level of my last meeting was tiny in comparison to someone seeking help for the first time, or someone not receiving the treatment they need. For the record, my most recent experience was wanting to either lower my medication dosage or switch to another due to some side effects. My mental state has been good for perhaps 3-4 months now and I was positive, clear and direct with the GP. I have no complaints about the experience. The fact I waited for an appointment was no issue as I knew I would have to and had 2-3 weeks worth of medication left.
Had this appointment gone poorly, the impact on my life would have been fairly minor and I don’t believe it would have set my recovery back at all. However, no-where in this survey did they aim to establish this. There was no effort to find the importance level or desired outcome of the meeting. For balance, yes the survey did establish I was talking medication and not one of the other therapies. But I’ve talked medication with my GP at wildly different stages of my mental health where the importance of my answers would be hugely different.
No Room For Feedback
My final gripe is that they do not have a box to give extra thoughts, comments, opinions. Without wishing to sound like ‘that person’ I work in marketing and have conducted and written many surveys in my time. Not having the chance to provide qualitative feedback at the end, particularly on a topic of this importance is rare. I assume it was either misguided or a cost cutting exercise as qualitative data takes a lot longer to go through and draw conclusions from than quantitative. One fairly universally accepted flaw with current mental health services is that investment and staffing are too low. It is disappointing to see that flaw seemingly replicated in a survey aimed at improving the situation.
Minds Mental Health Survey – Decide For Yourself
Perhaps I am being unfair, perhaps I am missing some major point of the survey. It is also possible that my concerns are dwarfed by the good that the survey may do. Mind are a fantastic charity doing many great things. I don’t wish to be simply bashing them, rather looking at ways things could be improved. The link to the survey is below, so you decide. Let me know what you think in the comments below or on social media