Darlington system response to Healthwatch Darlington Mental Health Report

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) working with Healthwatch Darlington and Darlington Community Hub Transformation working group

Healthwatch Darlington used a series of tried and tested research methods to gather the experiences and views of local patients across the Borough of Darlington. We spoke to 128 people in total. We used the survey designed by five local Healthwatch in the region and Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) along with three online focus group events to gather a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative data which has helped us to highlight key themes for the local area.

This report gives and insight into what local people in Darlington feel matters to them the most when it comes to mental health support in the community.


The insight shared by local patients in Darlington presents a mixed picture with some feeling happy with the support available and some not feeling happy.

Patients agree that information sharing needs to be improved in Darlington. This needs to happen not only within NHS, local authority and voluntary services but within the community as well. An array of information which is accessible, raises awareness, reduces stigma and ensures patients know where to go, matters to people in Darlington and they wish to see this happen online and offline.

Patients wish to see more access to gyms, leisure/hobby activities and outdoor activities that promote keeping fit and mentally well at an affordable price and they should be varied catering for different patient groups such as ‘men only’. 

Patients would like to see services working together to understand the needs of patients with multiple complex needs. They feel more can be done to address this looking at how other areas of their life can be improved. This will help improve their mental wellbeing overall as interventions will help to address underlying reasons for mental health decline such as low confidence, unemployment, relationship problems and loneliness.

Increasing awareness and understanding for example in terms of learning disabilities and complex mental health disorders may help patients get the help they need in the future. Patients feel that services don’t understand them or that they don’t get the right help as they are often referred to different services or service don’t help at all, and they are left unsupported.


  • Develop a communications strategy to support the implementation of a town centre wide awareness campaign to reduce stigma and raise awareness of the community provision available.
  • Refine existing signposting pathways making best use of the resources available in the town which are delivered by the community & voluntary sector so that patients wellbeing needs can be met holistically.
  • Consider how to best use the Local offer and Living Well Directory hosted by Darlington Borough Council.   
  • Work across sectors to offer new community activities (which are accessible) that offer local patients the opportunity to meet others who they can relate to, improve their wellbeing and connect with nature.
  • Ensure services delivered by the voluntary sector, NHS and local authority (such as social care) are working together to address all needs of local patients by working collaboratively and joining together through networks.  

Darlington system response to Healthwatch Darlington Mental Health Report 

Following the Tees Valley Mental Health Alliance meeting in October 2021 where the Healthwatch report, (Mental Health) was discussed, we have since taken this to Darlington partners to discuss as a system response.

At the Darlington Community Hub working group held on (24th January 2022) Darlington commissioners and service providers acknowledged the findings within the report, recognising and further discussing the challenges that many of our service users and organisations face daily in respect of accessing appropriate mental health support.

The collective multi agency working group made a commitment to continue to consider the findings within member organisation and across partnership/system activity.  The partnership is also playing a core role in the Community Mental Health transformation programme locally, which aims to ensure more people receive the right mental health support at the right time.

The system partnership is committed to

  • working collaboratively to overcome the barriers faced by our local communities in accessing and receiving mental health support
  • co-produce our new ways of working in relation to the Community Mental Health Transformation with local people and communities
  • Raising awareness of what mental health support is already available across Darlington and how to access services.

Maxine Crutwell - (Chair), Tees Valley Community Transformation Programme Manager, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

Allison Cook - Darlington Service Manager, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust Darlington NHS,

Rita Lawson - Chief Executive, Tees Valley Rural Action (on behalf of Darlington Voluntary and Community Sector organisations)

Mary Hall - Public Health Portfolio Lead, Adults and Partnerships, Darlington Borough Council

(Representatives of the Darlington Community Hub Transformation working group)


Read the full Healthwatch Darlington Report and the full Tees Valley Healthwatch Report below:

HWD Community Transformation Report
Tees Valley Heathwatch Network Community Transformation Report

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Youthwatch Darlington interview NSPCC and Kooth for this year's Children's Mental Health Week 2021.