Government is not delivering on mental health
The government’s mental health strategy set out five key issues affecting mental health, but current policy across departments is failing to address them.
A year ago the government’s mental health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health, was published, with the aim of ensuring all departments and agencies worked together to reduce the annual £105bn cost to the UK of psychological ill health.
When the National Mental Health Development Unit was scrapped the month after the strategy was published, that work was given to mental health charities including Mind, Rethink and the NSUN network for mental health.
As part of attempting to design a practical implementation plan for the strategy, NSUN has assessed what progress has been made so far on delivering No Health Without Mental Health’s objectives across government.
The strategy clearly identifies five main predeterminants of mental health that must be improved in order to deliver the practical objectives of the strategy: employment, housing, education, community cohesion and physical health. An assessment of the state of each of these factors reveals that ministers appear to be wrecking their own strategy.
Unemployment is now at an 18-year high and forecast to rise further while the latest Department for Work and Pensions’ impact assessment on their own benefit changes found that 310,000 people are at risk of losing their homes. Investment in social housing has halved with less than 500 new social homes built last year.
Ofsted has recently been instructed to drop ‘wellbeing’ from the school inspection regime with schools minister Nick Gibb describing emotional and social education as “ghastly” and “peripheral”, leading to entire school counseling and health programs being scrapped. Likewise schools are no longer required to encourage ‘community cohesion’, another prerequisite for good mental health according to the strategy.
On physical health, the first action Andrew Lansley took on taking office was to scrap the traffic light food labeling scheme and attack Jamie Oliver’s attempts to improve nutrition in schools. Public health bodies are united in rejecting the government’s ‘responsibility agenda‘ involving McDonalds, Tesco, Pepsi and the Portman Group of brewers and distillers in ministerial food and drink policy commissions.
An email from health minister Earl Howe, recently published by the Guardian, revealed that he had asked the advice of tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris on how to resist imposing plain packets for cigarettes, despite the fact that people with mental health conditions smoke 40% of the tobacco in the UK.
The strategy also calls for new local public health bodies to prioritise mental health but the first and largest, the London Health Improvement Board chaired by mayor Boris Johnson, has instead opted to concentrate on childhood obesity and problem drinking.
While the DH would argue that it has invested £18m in continuing the anti-mental health stigma time to change campaign and sought to increase access to psychological therapies, these measures pale into insignificance in the wider context of worsening health and wider services.
If we in the third sector are to have a hope of delivering a practical implementation plan for No Health Without Mental Health then we need a genuine cross-government commitment to its aims particularly from the Department for Education, the DWP and the new public health bodies, to promote good mental health in schools, create good quality homes and jobs and clamp down on junk food, alcohol and cigarettes.
Edward Davie is communications and engagement office for the NSUN network for mental health
This article orginally appeared on the Guardian Public Leaders Network .
NSUN is always looking for new members – it’s free and confidential to join and in return for emailing your name, address, email and phone number to email@example.com you get a weekly ebulletin, regular members’ magazine and invites to conferences, training and events.
Judith has very kindly asked me to write a guest post for her blog about the use of survey and marketing research and how it can help improve healthcare.
Firstly as an act of full disclosure I should say I am a market researcher who works in healthcare research. So yes I do have an interest in persuading people to work with us to co-create better healthcare options.
Over the last few years people like you have had a greater say in the kinds of medical treatment you or the people you love receive. The types of treatment options have increased especially with the growth of non-prescription medication and alternative medicine. Equally, many patients and their caregivers are far better informed than they once were about their conditions.
This is one of the reasons that the government, pharmaceutical companies and physicians are more aware that they need to improve how…
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Greetings to all and a very special Thank You!!! to Judith for asking me to do some “guest- blogging”…both honored and quite excited to be doing this.
FYI….I am a musician and an advocate in the areas of trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. There is a lot more to this, but I want to be brief and let you spend some time visiting some of the websites I will be sharing – these can then give you a lot more information and resources to help you understand better some of the many things I do in trying to share Hope, Healing & Help for the above mentioned heath concerns.
Please do visit the Surviving Spirit website – http://www.survivingspirit.com – to learn how we use the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy to help those impacted by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. We have a really nice website that has a lot of great resources and we also send out a monthly newsletter that you can sign up for from the website itself – the newsletter also shares a lot of helpful information that is inspirational and motivational. [& Judith can vouch for this!!!]
And please do visit my own website to hear some music, read some articles and so much more – http://www.mskinnermusic.com – by visiting these websites you will have a better understanding as to why I do what I do in trying to help others – I have also been greatly affected by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns and try each day to help be a part of change for the better. You can also see and hear me performing live via this link – http://www.youtube.com/mcstrain – “Brush Away Your Tears” is a song I wrote for those who have been hurt as children.
Well….next week I’m off to Florida to perform, speak & present at the Alternatives Conference [“the oldest national mental health conference organized by and for mental health consumers/survivors”], upon my return I will share some insight and news of what happened there. This year’s theme is, “Coming Home: Creating Our Own Communities of Wellness and Recovery.” – http://www.alternatives2011.org/
Till then, take care, Mike Skinner
Don’t Mind Me by Judith Haire is the story of my dysfunctional childhood and teenage depression, my abusive first marriage and experience of rape and domestic violence, my terrifying descent into psychosis, my experience of electro convulsive therapy (ECT) and my recovery. I wrote this book to help others as well as myself