The effect of Community Mental Health Services in England

The aim of this study is to explore whether administrative data sources can provide reliable longitudinal data to study the real world experiences of community mental health (CMH) service users in England. The plan is to link individual-level data regarding the variety and intensity of primary and secondary community mental health services, mortality, socio-economic functioning; and mental health outcomes. This data will be supplemented with aggregated geographical data describing the mental health support and general satisfaction with services from the Mental Health Trust providing services to the individual; the mental health expenditure and the social care support available from the individual's Local Authority; and the characteristics of the local area.

Descriptive analyses will be used to describe the retrospective cohort of 2006 community mental health service users and the regional and temporal variation in the level and intensity of primary and/or secondary CMH services provided between 2006 and 2016. The changes and continuities in community mental health services experienced by service users will be visualised, and the analysis will identify a number of groups with distinct patterns use of community mental health services.

This is an ambitious study, seeking to make best use of existing data sources. If it demonstrates that it is possible to create a reliable retrospective cohort of community mental health service users, then further work will be possible using the dataset to assess which aspects of community mental health services have constrained or enabled service users to participate in all facets of community life over the time period and to identify how the relationship between community mental health services and well-being is constrained or modified by the individual's social context (neighbourhood characteristics, availability of social and mental health care resources). It will also demonstrate the potential for administrative data sources to be used in other ways to improve mental health and service delivery.

The Administrative Data Network and Mental Health Foundation are key partners in facilitating the delivery of this project.