Are people with mental health problems in the region getting better treatment than they were this time last year?
That was our hope more than 12 months ago when this newspaper launched a campaign to improve the under-performing mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk.
A crucial aim was to end the stigma of people suffering from mental health problems and raise awareness of the issues.
Our Mental Health Watch campaign has highlighted the struggles of the region’s mental health service, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), as well as its progress and successfully campaigned to save a mental health helpline from closure.
But how have things progressed in the past year?
‘It feels like I’m winning’
Carers Trust Cambridgeshire is using the story of a mother of two from Isleham to raise awareness of the plight that many of the thousands of the county’s carers go through ahead of Carers Rights Day.
The stresses of caring for her husband caused Emma Joy-Staines, 31, to fall ill, and she was later admitted to hospital for tests.
She returned from hospital but struggled to provide care, so she called social services.
“I wasn’t used to asking for help, not even from my family, but I knew I had to do something,” she said.
“I was in an absolute state so I range social services and said, ‘I don’t know what you can do, I don’t know what I need but I need something. Can you help me?’
“They put me in touch in touch with Carers Trust Cambridgeshire. They have been my lifeline – the only organisation to proactively help us. I don’t know what would have happened because I was in a bad way. I was very scared.”
Emma was put in touch with support officer Becca Browne, who looked at the way she was coping as a carer and the impact it was having on her health and well-being.
Parking charges have been scrapped for carers visiting long-term patients at the city’s three hospitals.
The main carer of someone in hospital for more than six weeks will qualify for the free pass.
Permits will apply at Leicester Royal Infirmary, Glenfield and Leicester General hospitals.
The move has been welcomed by carers and health campaigners.
The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trusts is one of the only hospital trusts in the country to offer the concession for all types of patients.
Similar schemes operate in other hospitals but are often restricted to particular patient groups such as those being treated for cancer, kidney problems and blood related conditions.