Understanding mental health issues is key to effective substance misuse services

 

For a long time now, Substance Misuse Services have understood the underlying links between mental health issues and substance misuse.

Psychosocial Interventions are a staple tool in the armory of all good substance misuse providers and often go hand in hand with expert NHS Pharmacological treatment services. However, the relationship between substance misuse and mental health can often be missed and at worse, exacerbated by a lack of understanding by other health and social care practitioners.

In addition, the stigma that remains around mental health means some people do not feel comfortable approaching their GP for support, or just do not recognise that they are struggling until their condition has worsened considerably. For others, cuts to mental health services mean that there is very limited support available even when help is being sought. As this recent article demonstrates, too often, substance misuse starts as an ill-advised coping strategy. People try to manage their mental ill-health themselves, with self-prescribing feeling, at times, like the only ‘solution’ available.

As substance misuse service providers, the NHS SMPA is committed to not just providing high quality and effective psychosocial and pharmacological treatment, but also educating and informing our colleagues and fellow practitioners across health and social care sectors about the interdependency between mental health and substance misuse and encouraging safe and effective treatment strategies.

However, we also know that until substance misuse and mental health services have the time and resources to work together, diagnosing and treating both types of conditions concurrently, we will continue to see service users struggle with the battle towards recovery.