Almost one in three people with mental health problems do not know where to turn in the event of a crisis, new figures show.
The Care Quality Commission said it was “concerning” that 32 per cent of people who receive community mental health services have no idea where to turn if they are in trouble.
Meanwhile, one in five who did know where to seek help in the event of a crisis said they did not get the assistance they needed.
Following its survey of 13,500 people who frequently use these services in England, the health regulator said that community mental health care “must improve”.
CQC said the results highlight “serious problems” with some aspects of care after the poll identified problems with communication about drugs, infrequent contact with staff and people not feeling involved in planning their care.
The regulator’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Paul Lelliott, warned care providers that poor performance on the survey could result in an early inspection and failure to act on the findings could impact on their ratings.
CQC said there is “much more” to be done to fully involve people in planning and reviewing their care after only 57 per cent said they were involved as much as they wanted to be in agreeing what care they would receive.
And the regulator said it was of “serious concern” that only 53 per cent of people prescribed new medicines for their mental health said that they were “definitely” given information about it in a way they could understand.
One in five said they did not feel as though they saw staff often enough to meet their needs and almost a quarter had not been told who was in charge of their care.
“It is clear from this survey that many people do not feel well-served by community mental health services,” said Dr Lelliott.
“Leaders and staff from mental health trusts should reflect on what they could do differently and better to ensure people are engaged effectively and involved in their care and take action to ensure that people get the help and support they need.
“The survey will inform our decisions about how soon we inspect a trust. We will soon start to rate these mental health services and how well they have responded to the results of this survey will play a part in determining our overall judgment of trusts.”