LibLink: Norman Lamb: Decades of not understanding Mental Health has left too many Unhelped – but we are getting there

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Minister, has written for the Huffington Post about the changes he’s been trying to implement in mental health care and treatment.

First he talked about services for young people:

Recent provisional data shows that hospital admissions for self-harm for young people aged 11-19 are at their highest for five years. Maybe it is better reporting, maybe it is a result of the added stresses young people face. But these figures represent real young people and their families and the serious emotional distress they face.

Some find it difficult to talk about their mental health, which is why it is so important for those who can to be open about the problems they have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is to encourage others to feel they can talk about it. In a way, it’s the most important thing.

I want young people to get good and compassionate personalised care. I want them to be given both physical and mental health care which helps them in their time of need but also gives them techniques and support to help prevent or manage further problems.

That’s why, earlier this year, I convened a Taskforce to advise us on improvements to mental health services for children and young people. This is the first time a group of experts from across, health, education and social care have come together to focus on making sure every young person gets the care they need. Crucially, we are also involving young people in this work so they can give their views on what they want from services. And it’s my aim that services don’t just stop at the youngsters themselves – services need to support entire families to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness.

And there’s more detail of the investment in mental health care already delivered in Government by Norman, and Nick Clegg:

We have legislated for equality between mental and physical health and included it in our Mandate to NHS England so they know what we expect.

But we want to go further than this, we’re introducing the first ever waiting time standards for mental health services, a right to get treated within a defined period, including a target for young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis to be treated within two weeks – ending decades of unfairness where standards only applied to physical health.

The standards will be backed by £33million investment next year. This follows a £7million spend on new children’s beds this year, as well as the £54 million we’ve provided to boost young people’s access to psychological therapies.

We’ve also made £30million available to invest in psychiatry in more general hospitals so that, for example, someone going to A&E with self-harm injuries will get support for mental health problems as well as the physical injury. This is part of the £80m for mental health services next year that was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in October.

You can read the whole article here. 

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  • Dave Warren 16th Dec '14 - 5:23pm

    Great to see this being highlighted.

    I hope you will be talking about it in the General Election campaign.

  • Stephen Donnelly 16th Dec '14 - 10:18pm

    The King’s Fund reports : “While relatively few mental health trusts are reporting deficits, recent analysis suggested that the sector experienced a real-terms reduction in funding of more than 2 per cent between 2011/12 and 2013/14, leading to cuts in staff and prompting warnings from sector leaders about the parlous state of services (Lintern 2014). A recent report from the Care Quality Commission highlighted how shortages of beds and staffing issues are resulting in vulnerable patients with mental health problems being held in police cells (Care Quality Commission 2014)”.

    I am afraid talk of increased funding is pure spin.

  • Stephen Donnelly 16th Dec '14 - 10:44pm

    Just to balance this the Guardian reported as follow : “A good deal of the credit for this must lie with the effective Time to Change anti-stigma campaign, which yielded the biggest annual improvement in a decade in attitudes towards mental distress. But much credit, too, goes to the Liberal Democrats who have nailed their colours to this particular mast in government and stuck with the cause. That it may not save them many votes at next May’s general election makes it even more to be applauded.”

    Good policy, it is just the nonsense about funding that I object to.

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