Project Summary:

Given the significance of essential services in the population’s well-being, it is critical for CAC (and wider institutions) to understand barriers that vulnerable groups face when trying to access these services. The research aims to assess the experiences of people with mental health diagnoses, namely:

  • The specific problems they face when engaging and communicating with services;
  • Why they may not have attempted to engage or communicate with the services at all, including any language barriers;
  • How these might be resolved going forward;
  • Any examples of good practice, including the use of advice and support services; and
  • Any other concerns and suggestions to improve the consumer’s experience of engaging and communicating with essential services.

A qualitative approach was particularly valuable in gaining insight into the lived experiences of people. Through extended focus groups and in-depth interviews across Wales  (both the medium of English and Welsh), we have gained detailed information about particular barriers faced by people with mental health diagnosis.

There were a certain number of key issues for individuals with a mental health diagnosis. It is important to point out that these barriers are also faced by individuals without a mental health diagnosis.

Key barriers for individuals included;

  • Reliance on family members or friends to keep up active relationships with organisations,
    • To open letters, contact and pay,
  • Preference for face to face contact for clarity, comprehension and confidence,
  • Perceived scarcity of consistent, easy to understand information,
    • Relating to housing and tenancies, finance and benefits, in particular,
    • Poor technological literacy,
  • Requiring assistance with financial management,
    • With budgeting, setting up direct debits and clearing debt in particular,
  • Inherent mistrust of organisations.

In order to overcome these barriers, Miller made many suggestions for future delivery of essential services. These recommendations were centered around more flexibility for the consumers, extra time to discuss and complete tasks and better understanding and awareness of mental health.

These barriers and recommendations were explored in detail in the report for CAC. The findings from this research will then go on to inform future reports and positions on vulnerable consumers and people with mental health diagnosis by the policy staff at CAC.

Please contact Jess Phillips at for further details on the project.


Citizens Advice Cymru