More needs to be done to provide safe spaces for those with mental heath issues in Burton who are taken to the police station for assessment, council chiefs have said.
A report by a health scrutiny working group at East Staffordshire Borough Council also said there needs to be more advertising of mental health services in Burton so those experiencing crisis for the first time know where to turn, instead of being transferred to the police station.
It comes after the council revealed it was considering turning Crossley House, in Manor Croft, at Burton's Market Place, into a safe space for people who have mental health problems.
The report has now been considered by the borough council’s cabinet which heard there were three main issuing arising from mental health provision. These include a lack of communication so, despite the rise of social media, people who are newly in crisis tend to revert to A&E or the police.
The report said: "They are not always aware of services they can access to simply listen, especially at night, or voluntary services who can assess and prevent deterioration and keep people well."
It said there also needs to be more integration of services across providers/agencies. It said that while there are enough services, there needs to be more joined up thinking.
The report also revealed a lack of suitable safe spaces, saying: "Within East Staffordshire individuals in crisis have limited options for immediate support. Those people in crisis in the borough may be taken to a police station to await a professional assessment. Although designated as a safe space, it is not a welcoming environment and people in distress may feel frightened rather than safe."
The authority previously revealed it hopes to turn Burton's Crossley House into a safe space, after it stopped its Shopmobility service and has asked Mencap’s cafe to move out, drawing criticism from the elderly and disabled.
The news that Crossley House could become a safe space was praised by mental health campaigner Matt Long, who said: "Burton desperately needs a safe space facility. The real crisis in mental health lies at the acute end of the spectrum. While a safe space facility is not the same as a hospital for the mentally ill and could not cater for those needing to be sectioned under The Mental Health Act, it would provide an invaluable safety net and help catch those falling into the depths of acute mental ill health."
Dr Long campaigned against the controversial closure of the Margaret Stanhope Centre, which provided beds for those with mental health problems in Burton.
The report added that there are a range of options available to residents of East Staffordshire who are in need of mental health services provided by the NHS, Primary Care and voluntary services and cover needs from 'wellness' to 'crisis' to hospital care and living with ongoing conditions.
But admitted most are concentrated in the Burton and surrounding areas, with more rural areas having relatively little access. Even for acute care, the service is home based with beds being in Tamworth and Stafford, since the closure of the Margaret Stanhope.
It has been recommended that the council continues to work with health and county council colleagues to ensure there is adequate provision of NHS and voluntary mental health services across the whole of East Staffordshire. Services also need to be advertised as widely as possible, via all media, especially at potential crisis points.