Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Boost for Mental Health

Good news today as the Coalition Government published its new mental health strategy No health without mental health. It was refreshing to the Deputy Prime Minister say that mental health is going to be placed on a par with physical health under the new Government's health policy.

From the official press release:
"The No health without mental health Strategy outlines how a new emphasis on early intervention and prevention will help tackle the underlying causes of mental ill-health. It sets out how the Government will work with the NHS, local government and the third sector to help people recover and challenge stigma."

This launch follows Lib Dem Health Minister Paul Burstow's public commitment last December to make psychological therapies available to more people on the NHS. Psychological or so-called talking therapies include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Counselling for Depression, and Interpersonal Psychotherapy.As I said before are lucky enough in Reading to be one of the first areas to pilot an NHS Talking Therapies service which has gone to helped many local people cope with mental health problems and return to work. Last June ministers visited the Shinfield-based Service and give it the official seal of approval.
The Government has announced that £400 million pounds will be invested in NHS talking therapies services to make them more accessible to more people. The pilots have shown that more needs to be done to make services accessible to older people in particular.The strategy commits to beginning to expand provision of psychological therapies to children and young people, older people, people with long-term physical health problems, those with medically unexplained symptoms and those with serious mental illness.
With an estimated one in four people expected to suffer from mental health problems in their lifetime it is vitally important that effective mental health services are readily available to all.
As I noted in December:
"[Improving access to psychological therapies]This was a key plank of the Lib Dem general election manifesto in 2010 and included in the Coalition Agreement signed by Lib Dems and Conservatives."

I have arranged a visit to our local Talking Therapies service and I have also written to officers challenging them about how they plan to make local services more accessible to local peole so more people can benefit.
In addition to taking therapies the Government is committed to doing a whole range of things to imrove mental health care and services:
  1. launch the Health Visitors Implementation plan following our announcement last October for 4,200 additional health visitors;
  2. through the Early Intervention Grant bring together funding (£2.2bn in 2011-12) for early intervention and preventative services for children, young people and families, which can also be used for Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS). Local authorities will have greater freedom and flexibility to put in place programmes that can reduce conduct disorder, improve family relationships and reduce costs to social care, youth justice, education and health systems. 
  3. provide an extra investment of up to £7.2 million to ensure the best treatment possible for veterans with mental health problems; 
  4. ensure that by 2014 people in contact with the criminal justice system will have improved access to mental health services – as outlined in the Ministry of Justice Green Paper Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders; 
  5. work in partnership with the Time to Change programme to challenge stigma and discrimination;  
  6. establish community budgets in 16 local areas for families with complex needs (including mental health problems) as part of a national campaign to turn around the lives of families with multiple problems;
  7. ensure that all psychological therapy sites have an employment co-ordinator who will work with Jobcentre Plus offices, employers and occupational health schemes to help people get back into work;
  8. launch a consultation to extend to all employees the right to request flexible working, which will help carers of people with mental health problems to manage their caring role alongside work; and
  9. publish a new cross-Government suicide prevention strategy in the spring of 2011.
All good stuff. Fingers crossed this programme of action will help thousands of people who are struggling with mental health problems in our area.

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