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Healthcare Assignment: Key Barriers To Accessing Health & Social Care Services


Task: The healthcare assignment task is to write a 1500-word essay on the topic below: “Drawing on examples from one service user group (older people, people with mental health issues, people with disabilities or people with learning disabilities), discuss the key barriers to accessing health and social care services”.


The main aim of the healthcare assignment is to explore the key barriers in accessing health and social care services by drawing the example of people with mental health issues. It has been observed that often people with mental health conditions experience different barriers in accessing overall health and social care services. It is essential for the healthcare system to ensure equity and access to care for all individuals irrespective of their mental health conditions. This is provided in the UN Sustainable Development Goals for promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing for all people to extend their life expectancy (Corscadden, Callanderand Topp, 2018). In this regard, the essay has first discussed about key terms used for identifying the barriers to healthcare access. The next section of the essay has focussed on exploring various barriers to this access of health and social care services by emphasizing on a specific service user group, that is, people with mental health issues. Lastly, it has provided all the significant findings in the concluding section.

Key Terms Used
Health care systems often depend on the presumption that sick people can be distinguished from the disabled or frail ones. This has pointed out how an increasing population of individuals have complex healthcare needs to be met. These include children having complex conditions, older population with multiple morbidities and chronic diseases, people with learning disabilities, people having mental health illnesses and others who require continuous care (Mason, et al., 2015). It has often been found out that care delivery systems that are mostly designed for treating acute illnesses might be both inadequate and inappropriate for these people. Thus, these are various service user groups that generally need access to proper health and social care services. Mental health problems have the capability of affecting one out of four people throughout their entire lives, thereby changing their functioning, thinking and behavioural patterns. People with mental health issues are increasing that has become alarming across the world (Choudhry, et al., 2016). They display various mood related and behavioural symptoms. The emotions, role of stress and mood shifts are considered as important symptoms, alongside lack of attention or concentration, sadness, anger and low mood. On the other hand, behavioural symptoms include self-laughter, irrelevant talk, inappropriate behaviour, self-talk, crying and others that are considered as abnormal (Choudhry, et al., 2016). In addition, they also experience headaches and body aches and have a tendency to avoid difficult situations.

Besides, people with mental health issues often face stigmatization that acts as a barrier in accessing health and social care service. This occurs from misuse of power, lack of communication, social exclusion, discrimination, stereotyping and labelling these individuals (Brondani, Alanand Donnelly, 2017). People with mental illness experience these stigmatizing behaviours in their healthcare settings, where they are treated unfairly, differently and labelled as unworthy or unsuitable.

Key Barriers to Access
There has been an increasing trend in the percentage of people with mental health disorders. According to 2017 estimates, around 792 million people survived with a mental health illness that accounted for around 10.7% of people across the world (Dattani, Ritchie and Roser, 2021).This is because often mental health disorders are generally under-reported for the challenges involved in collecting and dealing with the data. Furthermore, it has been observed that MNSD or mental, neurological and substance use disorders constitute around 13% of the entire global burden of disease (Vistorte, et al., 2018). This percentage has increased from around 41% between the years 1990 and 2010 and affects mainly people in middle and low-income countries. Thus, accessing healthcare and social care services for these people remains largely essential by removing the key barriers.

Stigmatization associated with mental health illnesses is often one of the most significant barriers that people with mental health issues face while accessing healthcare and social care services. These stigmatization attitudes are mainly evident in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals from the primary care physicians (Vistorte, et al., 2018). Apart from this, people with mental disorders also face this experience from specialized services, which make it difficult for them to get treatment. Unreceptive attitudes from the professionals having such stigmatized beliefs lead to distancing the people with mental disorders despite them needing more healthcare. This becomes a barrier for these people to receive the treatment they need. Stigmatization occurs on different levels across the healthcare sector, such as, structural, intraindividual and interpersonal (Knaak, Mantler and Szeto, 2017). This has various direct and indirect effects on both the quality and access of care that persons having mental health issues receive. Barriers to access are generated in different pathways, namely, therapeutic relationships, poor quality of mental and physical care, patient safety concerns, discontinuation of treatment, delays in seeking of help and suboptimal therapeutic relationships. Healthcare providers often become reluctant in providing the required cared to these people and compromised patient-provider relationship further leads to termination of their treatment (Knaak, Mantler and Szeto, 2017). In addition, persons having mental illnesses also receive poorer quality of their physical care, delays in diagnosis and lesser treatment options because of this stigmatization.

People with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety often experience multiple difficulties while accessing healthcare services, which has been evident from the rising of severity, onset and persistence of physical disorders in them. In this regard, Coombs, et al. (2021) has pointed out the presence of stigma in healthcare professionals as one of the major barriers in navigating healthcare systems. Stigma generates patient perception, which further negatively influences the access to healthcare and social care services of these persons. Apart from this, the other barriers identified in this study are issues related to affording normal healthcare and associated unanticipated medical bills. The availability-related barriers include disproportionate allocation of healthcare resources, urban-rural classification and burden of travel distances (Coombs, et al., 2021). In addition, often healthcare professionals are not adequately trained or equipped for addressing serious mental and physical health issues or complications of persons having mental disorders. According to Carbonell, Navarro?Pérezand Mestre (2020), various challenges exist in the mental healthcare systems that act as barriers in accessing healthcare services for people with mental health issues. These include structural barriers, health culture, illness costs, rehabilitation management, biomedical model and care provision. Structural barriers consist of treatment gap, weak planning, system underfunding, people abandonment and weak health policies, while negative health culture includes labelling, underuse of services, lack of knowledge and stigmatization (Carbonell, Navarro?Pérezand Mestre, 2020). Rehabilitation management comprises of shortage of qualified professionals, insufficient community resources, discontinuous care and overcrowding, while care provision problem includes high opportunity costs, inadequate social support and overload of families. Thus, these challenges often act as barriers for the mentally ill people in accessing healthcare services. It has been observed that despite the presence of mental health services and resources in some countries, they are not accessed because of different factors like discrimination, poverty and stigma. Such discrepancy often results in worsening of the mental health disorders in the patients (Muhorakeyeand Biracyaza, 2021). Furthermore, some of the significant barriers in accessing healthcare services amongst persons with mental issues include lack of knowledge about mental disorders, inadequate availability, limited affordability of mental healthcare services, stigma, negative attitudes towards mentally ill people and ineffective mental healthcare strategies. The barriers further include shame of being diagnosed, sociocultural influences, scarcity of both financial and human resources, physical and psychosocial violence faced by mentally ill people, social marginalization, distant geographical areas and problems with charging of disorganized services (Muhorakeyeand Biracyaza, 2021).Besides, these persons further experience barriers like resistance to therapies, sociocultural misunderstandings, lack of proper medical infrastructures and mistrust towards healthcare providers. Thus, these barriers result in difficulty towards accessing and utilizing healthcare and social care services.Moreover, there exist some attitudinal barriers towards accessing the services that include negative health beliefs, consequences of treatment and misinterpretations of the patients (Andrade, et al., 2014). Structural barriers are inconvenient location or area and incapability of obtaining an appointment with the service provider.Additionally, lack of satisfaction with the service, embarrassment about reporting symptoms, lack of competence of health professionals, cultural diversity influences, misinformation about mental illness and financial services act as barriers in accessing mental healthcare services (Andrade, et al., 2014). Thus, there are various types of barriers preventing persons with mental issues to access health and social care services.

The aim of the essay was to explore key barriers in accessing health and social care services by emphasizing on the service user group of persons with mental issues. In this regard, the first section focused on conceptualizing key terms like included stigmatization, mental health problems and healthcare systems. The main section of the essay then provided a brief overview through quantitative data to display the condition of people living with mental issues. It helped in pointing out various barriers causing persons with mental issues to face difficulties in accessing healthcare and social care services. This was followed by identifying different barriers from various scholarly articles. In this regard, stigmatization was identified as the most significant barrier alongside other structural, financial, geographical, attitudinal, availability and accessibility barriers.?

Reference List
Andrade, L.H., Alonso, J., Mneimneh, Z., Wells, J.E., Al-Hamzawi, A., Borges, G., Bromet, E., Bruffaerts, R., De Girolamo, G., De Graaf, R. and Florescu, S., 2014. Barriers to mental health treatment: results from the WHO World Mental Health surveys. Psychological medicine, 44(6), pp.1303-1317.
Brondani, M.A., Alan, R. and Donnelly, L., 2017. Stigma of addiction and mental illness in healthcare: The case of patients’ experiences in dental settings. PloS one, 12(5), p.e0177388.
Carbonell, A., Navarro?Pérez, J.J. and Mestre, M.V., 2020. Challenges and barriers in mental healthcare systems and their impact on the family: A systematic integrative review. Health & social care in the community, 28(5), pp.1366-1379. Choudhry, F.R., Mani, V., Ming, L.C. and Khan, T.M., 2016. Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: a meta-synthesis. Healthcare assignmentNeuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, p.2807.
Coombs, N.C., Meriwether, W.E., Caringi, J. and Newcomer, S.R., 2021. Barriers to healthcare access among US adults with mental health challenges: A population-based study. SSM-Population Health, 15, p.100847.
Corscadden, L., Callander, E.J. and Topp, S.M., 2018. International comparisons of disparities in access to care for people with mental health conditions. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 33(4), pp.967-995. Dattani, S., Ritchie, H. and Roser, M., 2021. Mental Health. [online] Our World in Data. Available at: (Accessed 23 March 2022)
Knaak, S., Mantler, E. and Szeto, A., 2017. Mental illness-related stigma in healthcare: Barriers to access and care and evidence-based solutions. Healthcare Management Forum, 30(2), pp.111-116. Mason, A., Goddard, M., Weatherly, H. and Chalkley, M., 2015. Integrating funds for health and social care: an evidence review.
Journal of health services research & policy, 20(3), pp.177-188.
Muhorakeye, O. and Biracyaza, E., 2021. Exploring Barriers to Mental Health Services Utilization at Kabutare District Hospital of Rwanda: Perspectives From Patients. Frontiers in psychology, 12, p.669. Vistorte, A.O.R., Ribeiro, W.S., Jaen, D., Jorge, M.R., Evans-Lacko, S. and Mari, J.D.J., 2018. Stigmatizing attitudes of primary care professionals towards people with mental disorders: a systematic review. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 53(4), pp.317-338.


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