Many mental health patients are not getting the support they need, a Healthcare Commission report has revealed.

The government watchdog's annual community mental health service users survey shows that, while most patients are happy with standards of care, persistent gaps remain.

Half of patients who wanted information about local support groups had not received any, while 51 per cent of those who wanted help finding work did not receive it.

Almost half the respondents had no access to out-of-hours crisis care, and one in three people who wanted counselling said they were not getting it.

The Healthcare Commission’s chief executive, Anna Walker, said while the ‘general trends were encouraging’ the results showed ‘there is still much to be done’.

Steve Shrubb, director of the NHS Confederation's mental health network, called the gaps 'concerning'.

However, the news that 76 per cent rated their care as good, very good or excellent was credit to the hard work of staff at mental health trusts, he said.

Compared to previous years, patients with complex mental health problems were more likely to have been told who their care coordinator was - a key element of the Care Programme Approach, which was introduced in 1991 to provide a structure for mental healthcare.

Findings from the survey, which was carried out in March this year by 69 trusts, will be fed back to organisations to help them to make improvements.

Paul Corry, director of public affairs at mental health charity Rethink, put the improvements down to greater levels of investment and said the problems were a ‘terrible reflection on decades of neglect.’

He urged the government to put mental health at the top of its priorities in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.