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New guidance to treat people who have both a mental health and substance misuse problem in Wales

New guidance to ensure people with both a mental health and substance misuse problem receive the treatment they need has been published for consultation by the Welsh Government.

Having both a mental health problem and a substance misuse problem - whether severe or moderate – can cause people and their families’ significant distress. It also impacts on their ability to lead a fully satisfying life. In the most extreme cases, it can lead to an increase in suicides, accidental fatal overdoses, sepsis or liver disease and, in a very small number of cases, can become a factor in people committing serious crimes.

The most recent figures show up to three in four people who misuse drugs also have a mental health problem and more than half of people with substance misuse problems are also diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. Alcohol is the most common substance misused and when drug misuse occurs, it is often with alcohol misuse.
The new service framework will support health professionals to work together to address the needs of people with both a mental health and substance misuse problem ensuring the integrated of mental health and substance misuse services for adults, children and young people.

Specifically, the new guidance will ensure services deliver:

  •  Prevention and early intervention – prevent problems from occurring in the first place and, where problems exist, ensure early detection and intervene to prevent problems from escalating;
  • A holistic, person centred approach – services should be built around the individual’s needs (including language) and in recognition of their individual strengths and abilities;
  • Good communication - for efficient care and treatment, it is vital agencies communicate effectively with each other and with service users and their families;
  • Co-production – ensuring service users, and where appropriate their families, are involved in establishing the outcomes to be achieved by the agreed interventions;
  • Prudent healthcare - delivering evidence-based care, tailored to the specific needs of the individual; avoiding treatment where it may cause harm and is unlikely to benefit the service user or is wasteful, and maximising the use of resources by ensuring that the workforce is operating at the top of its competence.

The Welsh Government is investing more than £580m in mental health services in 2015-16, with some £50m being invested in programmes to tackle drug and alcohol misuse over the same period.

Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“People with both a substance misuse and mental health problem frequently have complex needs which need a co-ordinated approach from a range of primary and secondary care services, delivered in both statutory and non-statutory settings.

“The Welsh Government is firmly committed to substantially improving people’s chances of recovery by driving improvements in collaboration between services. This requires health services, social services, the third sector and, where appropriate, justice agencies to work with service users and their families and carers to improve the outcomes achieved through service interventions.”


Consultation on Service Framework for the Treatment of People with a Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Misuse Problem 2015
Channel website: http://gov.wales

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