Breaking Down the Barriers

Working to improve mental and physical health needs through education and training

  • Breaking Down the Barriers logoPeople in England who have had mental health problems are five times as likely to be admitted to hospital as an emergency as those who have not.
  • Around 75% of children and young people with mental health disorders are undiagnosed and untreated.
  • People affected by severe mental illness can die up to 20 years younger than everyone else because of poor physical health.
  • Poor mental health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, and the estimated impact on the economy is a total of £100 billion.

The NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October 2014 by NHS England, set out a positive vision for the future based around seven new models of care and actions the NHS should take to ensure an equal response to mental and physical health, that everyone receives high quality care and a drive towards ensuring patients with mental illness and physical health needs are addressed at the same time.


Addressing the knowledge gap

UCLPartners was commissioned by Health Education England in 2014 to conduct a needs assessment, which highlighted a clear, urgent need and desire from NHS professionals to increase mental and physical health awareness, knowledge and skills through training, in order to improve care across primary and secondary settings. There was a general consensus that GPs and practices could play a much greater role and would embrace training materials to improve on current skills and knowledge.

The NHS is prioritising the integration of mental and physical care. To achieve this will require a more flexible and sustainable workforce, who are adequately equipped with appropriate and timely knowledge and skills to deliver the best possible care for patients across mental and physical health. Breaking Down the Barriers is supporting NHS organisations in meeting the national CQUIN targets by:

  • Reduce A&E admissions of people with serious mental illness from community and mental health settings
  • Improve the experience and outcomes of people with SMI’s who present to A&E
  • Increase confidence, knowledge and skills of the NH mental health workforce in the assessment and management of physical health in patients with acute and long-term conditions
  • Increase confidence and knowledge across GP practices and staff dealing with children and adolescents who present with mental health and learning disabilities needs.


What is Breaking Down the Barriers?

Breaking Down the Barriers is a suite of 14 mental and physical health training awareness packages and modules for the NHS workforce. They were developed in collaboration between UCLPartners and NHS primary and secondary care organisations in north and east London.

The programme aims to support the NHS workforce and multidisciplinary teams working in and across primary and secondary care settings by equipping them with the appropriate knowledge, information and skills to create initial awareness of conditions, recognise symptoms, assess situations, treat people appropriately, and improve both the mental and physical health needs of the population.


What are the key programme areas?

  • Mental health awareness in NHS acute emergency and urgent care settings
  • Physical health awareness in mental health settings, including the management of the acutely unwell and patients with long-term conditions
  • Child and adolescent mental health awareness for GP practices
  • Child and adolescent learning disabilities awareness for GP practices
  • Serious incidents case-based awareness training

Read more information on the modules here.

Who is the training aimed at?

Breaking Down the Barriers is aimed at NHS primary and secondary healthcare workforce and organisations to improve mental and physical health awareness education and training.


How is Breaking Down the Barriers training provided?

All training materials have been designed and developed as taught modules lasting between 1-2 hours. Modules are delivered through a mixture of presentations, practical exercises, videos tutorials, case studies, scenarios etc.

  • Acute A&E and urgent care settings: Training is delivered locally to multi-professional staff in collaboration with mental health liaison and specialist teams
  • Mental health settings: Training is delivered across mental health settings and MDT groups in collaboration with NHS acute and primary care clinicians and practitioners
  • Primary care – GP settings: Training is delivered across GP practices and MDT groups in collaboration with local primary care resources e.g. MDT cluster meetings

All materials are available as:

Breaking Down the Barriers also provides materials to support the delivery of the training, including:

  • Facilitator notes, role-play instructions, quizzes
  • Course flyers, videos, tutorials
  • Evaluation forms and attendance certificates.


How successful is Breaking Down the Barriers mental and physical awareness training?

To date, summary overall feedback and evaluation following training has demonstrated a significant shift in increased confidence, knowledge and practical skills across the NHS workforce.

Graph: impact of training on mental health awareness in A&E Graph: Impact of training on physical health awareness in mental health settings

Overall feedback reflected the need for more and regular training to maintain consistency and reduce further gaps.

How can I access Breaking Down the Barriers training materials and resources?

Breaking Down the Barriers awareness training materials are free to the NHS. Downloadable training resources can be accessed via e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) Learning Management online system.

More information

To register your interest in the training packages and associated modules and for more information on the programme, please contact Ronke Adejolu, Programme Manager, call direct on 020 3108 2319 or follow us on Twitter (@UCLPartners #UCLPartnersBreakingBarriers).