Far be it from me –

Guest Post by Edward Davie, NSUN – Government is not delivering on mental health

on February 24, 2012

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.

depressed male

The government has outlined five key issues affecting mental health but has failed to protect them from cuts. Photograph: Matty/Alamy

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 info@nsun.org.uk  you get a weekly ebulletin, regular members’ magazine and invites to conferences, training and events.

One response to “Guest Post by Edward Davie, NSUN – Government is not delivering on mental health

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Life of Ryan

Welcome to The Life of Ryan

The Isle Of Thanet News

News for Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and villages. Winner of KPBA Kent news website 2018, highly commended 2020. Winner commitment to the community 2020

Dave's Deliberations

David Matthew chews over some [mostly Christian] issues

Alternative Psychiatric Narratives

16-17 May 2014, Birkbeck, University of London

Through my Eyes

What's it all about!

Black Isle Media

We Provide The Facts, You Make The Decisions

Policy Press Blog

Publishing with a purpose

Alan's Blog

For what it's worth.....

Dr Goat's Blog

Putting hoof to keyboard to bring you views from the farmyard on public health, public mental health and related issues. And goats. These views are my own, and do not represent those of any organisations or endorse any political perspective - but whatever I'm eating may have been stolen.

Social Anxiety Revealed

the blog of the book

the free psychotherapy network

free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits

Miriam Drori, Author

writer, editor, novice poet


The yearly literary festival in the heart of Buckinghamshire


Campaigning to protect the 2004 Hunting Act

more follows

Because politics isn't just something that happens in the Palace of Westminster

%d bloggers like this: