Policy Watch - Mental Health Policy

Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition finds that children and young people’s mental health neglected by local authorities


Today the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition reveals a concerning new finding that 2 in 3 joint strategic needs assessments (JSNAs) do not specifically address children and young people’s mental health. Furthermore, data most commonly used to estimate the prevalence of mental health need is almost a decade old.

These are the findings of Overlooked and Forgotten, the Coalition’s review published today, of how children and young people’s mental health is being prioritised in the current commissioning landscape . The report offers support and recommendations to health and wellbeing boards on how they can prioritise and address children and young people’s mental health.

Adult mental health problems often have their roots in childhood ; it is therefore vital to invest in services early on in the life cycle to prevent mental health problems developing or worsening. As well as the social benefit, early intervention is cost-effective, saving society the cost of picking up more entrenched problems at a later stage.

We Need to Talk coalition call for faster and better access to talking treatment


Care and support minister Norman Lamb has supported a call by the We Need To Talk coalition for faster access to talking therapies.

The report, launched by the We Need to Talk coalition today, shows that one in ten (12%) people with mental health problems are stuck on waiting lists for over a year before receiving talking treatments and over half (54%) wait over three months.

The survey (2) of over 1,600 people who have tried to access talking therapies such as counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy on the NHS in England over the last two years also shows how some people are paying for private therapy to get the help they desperately need. One in ten (11%) said that they had faced costs for private treatment because the therapy they needed was not available on the NHS.

The choice of treatment on offer was also found to be limited even though CBT, the most commonly prescribed talking treatment, doesn’t work for everyone. The coalition found that three in five people (58%) weren’t offered a choice in the type of therapy they received.

Since 2007, the government’s increased investment in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme has helped millions of people to access psychological therapies on the NHS who otherwise wouldn’t have had this support. However, delays in accessing support and a lack of choice is having a devastating effect on people’s lives and recovery.

The We Need To Talk coalition is calling for the NHS in England to offer a full range of evidence-based psychological therapies to all who need them within 28 days of requesting a referral.

This also means that the issues of many marginalized groups may not be addressed. People from Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, those with long-term mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, older people and children and young people face specific challenges of their own. The coalition held focus groups with people from BME ethnic heritage and over half of those people said that language barriers was a specific issue that they faced.

We need to talk wants the government and NHS England to invest more in psychological therapies to meet demand and urgently introduce maximum waiting time standards to ensure timely access to treatment. Locally, clinical commissioning groups must ensure they commission a range of psychological therapies to meet the needs of diverse local communities.

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: “We want people to get access to treatment quickly. Due to its initial success, demand has increased and this has led to increased waiting times in some parts of the country. We have asked NHS England - the body which oversees the NHS – to introduce for the first time new waiting time and access standards for mental health services from 2015.”

The Centre welcomes Burnham's comments on improving access and achieving parity of esteem


The Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, today made a speech at a conference on mental health and wellbeing in Shrewsbury, where he outlined the idea of enshrining the right to counselling for mental health problems in the NHS Constitution.

The Centre for Mental Health welcomes Andy Burnham’s speech and his focus on the parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

The Centre’s Chief Executive Sean Duggan said: “The lack of parity in access and waiting times for mental health treatment means that mental health continues to be one of our society’s biggest inequalities. Andy Burnham’s speech today brings the issue of waiting times for mental health care rightly to the fore.

“We also welcome Burnham’s strong response to the 2012-2013 national survey of investment in adult mental health services not being commissioned, which is a key measure of our investment in services as well as of the parity of esteem, and hope that the Department of Health is therefore able to press ahead with developing improved ways to measure NHS spending.

Our recent work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists states that under-investment in mental health services and a lack of integration with physical health services have created a bottleneck in health care improvement and calls for the secretary of state to give a clear mandate to the NHS to bridge the resource gap between mental and physical health care.”

Disability Rights UK finds government’s work programmes to help the disabled into employment are failing


A major new report from Disability Rights UK has highlighted the weaknesses of the government’s major employment programmes in supporting disabled people to get and keep paid work.

The report, Taking Control of Employment Support, looked at the experiences of disabled people of the Work Programme and Work Choice. It found that neither scheme was achieving employment outcomes for any more than a small minority of disabled people. And people with mental health conditions were getting especially poor outcomes.

AsBriefing 47: Barriers to employment notes, the IPS approach is by far the most effective means of supporting the one million or so people who use mental health services into paid work. And while a growing proportion of NHS trusts are now offering an IPS services to some or all of their users, too many people continue to be denied the opportunity to get work when they want it.

Click here for more information on Taking Control of Employment Support.

Mental health services must act to avoid sleepwalking into the future


The Mental Health Foundation has released a new report into the future of mental health services. 'Starting today' warns that mental health services may be unable to cope with the demand in 20-30 years' time. At the current prevalence rates, 2 million more adults and 100,000 more children will need treatment in 2030.

The costs of mental health problems are estimated at over £100 billion a year.

Care Quality Commission publishes annual survey of community mental health services


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published the 2013 annual survey of community mental health services. A survey of 13,000 people using community services outside of inpatient care across 58 trusts in England.

The survey picked out areas for improvement, including most prominently the continuing need for personalisation of care - involving patients in the plan for their care. The CQC has said that mental health services will be one of its focuses with its inspectors work being informed by the survey results.

The survey found that 67% rated their overall experience as 7 out of 10 or better. It also found that for those on CPA, 46% said that they 'definitely' understood their care plan, which is down from 48% in 2012. For those not on CPA only 42% said that they didn't have a care plan and of those that did only 26% said that they 'definitely' understood it, which remains the same as in 2012.

You can read the national summary of the survey by clicking here.

Forces in Mind report on transition from military to civilian life


The Forces in Mind Trust launch 'Transition Mapping Study' report looking at how the transition process from military to civilian life currently works and how it is viewed by stakeholders and recent service leavers.

The report includes the calculated costs to the UK for different aspect of poor military transition, including mental health issues at £26 million and alcohol misuse at £35 million.

The report also contains over 26 recommendations on how to reduce the number of these poor transitions, including:

  • Differences between military and civilian life are vastly underestimated and the cultural differences can come as a surprise;
  • The extent to which a Service leaver’s family is able to help is often reflected in transition success, but is rarely considered;
  • Financial demands of civilian life can come as a shock, and a Service leaver's individual life skills overall can be under-developed;
  • Experiences of transition vary greatly, depending on personal attitude to transition as well as social context;
  • The range of help for Service leavers can be difficult to understand and navigate.

Building Resilient Communities report


This report from Mind and Mental Health Foundation focuses on resilience; setting out the types of services, resources and infrastructure that need to be in place locally to support resilient communities, helping people to ‘feel good and function well’.

The report brings together the evidence base and people’s experiences about what makes resilient people and communities, and calls on every council to prioritise mental health within their public health strategy.

Scrutiny report on the Mental Health Act 2007


The House of Commons Health Select Committee has today published the post-legislative scrutiny report on the Mental Health Act 2007. The report assess the implementation and operation of the legislation. The report concludes:

  • It is of concern to the Committee that the Department of Health does not have a clear picture as to the factors which are driving increased rates of detention.
  • We recommend that the Department of Health urgently investigates whether patients have been sectioned in order to access psychiatric units and reports to Parliament on the prevalence of this practice within the mental health system.
  • We are concerned about reports of practices such as de-facto detention of patients. Although such practices appear less serious than the use of sectioning powers to secure access to hospital, we welcome Dr Chalmers' clear statement that these practices are "not okay", and inconsistent with the clinician's professional obligations to the patient.

Support for commissioning for self‑harm


Most acts of self‑harm are unseen by healthcare professionals. Most people who do use primary care, emergency departments, inpatient care or mental health services after an act of self‑harm are unlikely to receive bespoke self‑harm services.

Therefore this resource supports commissioners to drive up quality, and ensure that self‑harm is being adequately addressed, in a range of generic services that are commonly used by people who self‑harm.

Mental health nurses to join police on the beat


Mental health nurses will patrol with police officers in four new pilot sites to improve responses to mental health emergencies, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb has announced.

The street triage scheme sees mental health nurses accompany officers to incidents where police believe people need immediate mental health support. The pilot will start in the summer in these areas:

  • North Yorkshire
  • Devon and Cornwall
  • Sussex
  • Derbyshire

Two street triage services in Cleveland and Leicestershire have already shown that nurses and police can work together to achieve better results for patients by making sure they receive the treatment they need. This also reduced demands on valuable police time.

Towards Work in Forensic Mental Health in Scotland


This National Guidance for Allied Health Professionals in Scotland follows a review by Jean McQueen.

The aim of this report is to review the current vocational rehabilitation provision by Allied Health Professionals in Scotland and produce national guidance on a way forward by modernising practice in line with evidence and what service users say is important.

The report answers the following key questions:

  1. What is the current evidence for vocational rehabilitation in forensic mental health?
  2. What do forensic mental health Service Users view as important in their journey towards work?
  3. What do AHPs in forensic mental health contribute to vocational rehabilitation?
  4. What are the barriers and challenges which influence effective vocational rehabilitation service delivery in forensic mental health?
  5. What are the implications for evidence based practice and further research identified during the course of this work?

New mums with mental illness and babies missing vital support


The wellbeing of more than one in 10 newborn babies in England could be improved if all new mothers with mental illness had equal access to good services, an NSPCC report has revealed.

Mental health problems can begin or escalate when a woman is pregnant or in her child's first year. They can have a damaging effect on family life, and in the worst cases, impact on babies' health and welfare.

Evidence shows that the vast majority of these illnesses are preventable and treatable, and with the right support, the negative effects on families can be avoided.

Personal health budgets - getting them right in mental health


Mind has conducted research with people with mental health problems to find out what they want from the services and support they use to manage their mental health, and what role personal health budgets might play in improving their experience of care and their health and wellbeing outcomes.

People with mental health problems told them that being able to access a choice of treatments and support and being able to be involved in joint-care planning are key to improving their experience of mental health care.

Study shows 11.5 per cent drop in mental health discrimination


A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has shown there has been an 11.5% reduction in average levels of discrimination. The study of England’s Time to Change anti-stigma programme provides the first evidence that it is possible to change the way the public treat people with mental health problems, but that a long term focus is needed to ensure that discrimination is removed from all areas of people’s lives.

The study found that discrimination when getting and keeping a job decreased significantly between 2008 and 2010, and a survey of employers shows improved knowledge of common mental health problems and more policies in place to support people with mental health problems in the workplace in 2010 compared to 2006. Read more on the Time to Change website.

New guides from the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health


The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCP-MH) has launched commissioning guides for perinatal mental health services, rehabilitation services and public mental health services.

The JCP-MH is a collaboration between 17 leading organisations. It will publish 18 guides for commissioners by June 2013.

New guidance on childhood conduct disorders released


Conduct disorders, and associated antisocial behaviour, are the most common mental and behavioural problems in children and young people. This new NICE guideline updates and replaces 'Parent-training/education programmes in the management of children with conduct disorder' (NICE technology appraisal guidance 102, published June 2006). It offers evidence-based advice on the recognition and management of conduct disorders in children and young people. Download the guidance here.

Report on the consultation on the healthcare needs of injured veterans and their families


In May 2012, the Armed Forces Partnership hosted a user-led event focusing on injured veterans’ healthcare needs and experiences, and those of their families. This brought together veterans with those responsible for the commissioning and provision of their health and care services, with the aim of placing veterans’ voices at the heart of the design of health and social care services. Read the report here.

MPs publish report on youth justice


The Youth Justice System is currently failing children in care and care leavers and there should be more effort to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of these vulnerable young people, the Justice Committee has concluded. It makes a series of recommendations including:
-A statutory threshold to enshrine in legislation the principle that only the most serious and prolific young offenders should be placed in custody;
-Devolving the custody budget to enable local authorities to invest in effective alternatives to custody; and
-More action to reduce the number of young people who breach the terms of their community sentences and the number of young black men in custody.

Read more here

People with a disability are at increased risk of being victims of violence


A new report Violence against People with Disability in England and Wales: Findings from a National Cross-Sectional Survey, finds that people with disability are at increased risk of being victims of domestic and non-domestic violence, and of suffering mental ill health when victimized. The authors say: "The related public health and economic burden calls for an urgent assessment of the causes of this violence, and national policies on violence prevention in this vulnerable group." Read more here.

New evidence update from NICE on common mental disorders


The NICE guideline on common mental disorders (PDF) was published back in May 2011, which means that it only included evidence published up until the end of 2010. This is a fast moving field, so NICE have now put out an evidence update, which focuses on new evidence published from Sept 2010 to Oct 2012.

The Mental Elf blog concludes that this update does not highlight any important new evidence that will impact on the recommendations in the current NICE guidance, but it does flag up some high quality research that managers, commissioners and health professionals may like to look at in more detail.

Read more on the Mental Elf blog here.

Mortality rate three times as high among mental health service users than in general population


Mortality among mental health service users aged 19 and over in England was 3.6 times the rate of the general population in 2010/11, according to Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) figures released this week.

People in contact with specialist mental health services had a higher death rate for most causes of death, especially mental and behavioural disorders and diseases of the nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease

However a much higher level of mortality (considering people between the ages of 19 and 74) also occurred for lifestyle - related diseases, including:

-Nearly four times the general population rate of deaths from diseases of the respiratory system (at 142.2 per 100,000 service users, compared with 37.3 per 100,000 in the general population).

-Just over four times the general population rate of deaths from diseases of the digestive system (at 126.1 per 100,000, compared with 28.5 per 100,000 in the general population).

-2.5 times the general population rate of deaths from diseases of the circulatory system (at 254.0 per 100,000 compared with 101.1 per 100,000 in the general population).

Read more on the NHS Information Centre website here

9% increase in referrals to Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy service- New report finds


The Department of Health has published the fifth annual report on the Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) service which also provides an overview of the last five years.

It provides statistical information on the continued increase in referrals to this statutory advocacy service and makes recommends to clinical commissioning groups and local authorities about its use for those who lack capacity.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 created this service to empower and safeguard people who do not have the capacity to make certain important decisions. The Act also introduced a legal duty on NHS bodies and local authorities to refer eligible people towards the IMCA service and consider their views.

The role of the IMCA is to represent and support people when critical decisions are going to be made on their behalf about provision of health or social care services. This is vital where someone is unable to make decisions themselves and do not have family or friends who could represent them.

During the fifth year there was a 9% increase in referrals from the previous year. The numbers have more than doubled in five years.

Download the report here.

New Early Intervention Foundation launched


The Department for Education and The Early Intervention Foundation Consortium have signed a contract which will see the creation of an independent Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) – one of the key recommendations of Graham Allen’s Early Intervention report.

The Foundation is being set up by a consortium of organisations which includes 4Children, The Local Government Association and Achievement for All 3As. The organisations will support the new Foundation in its infancy before handing over responsibility to the Foundation’s trustees and management once it is established as a charity in its own right, in the summer.

Youth justice statistics released for 2011/2012


The annual figures from the Youth Justice Board have been released in Youth Justice Statistics 2011/12. The report shows that the number of children entering the criminal justice system for the first time is falling but that there has been a 17 per cent rise in the number of times restraint was used against children aged 10 to 17 in custody in England and Wales.

Alistair Campbell blogs about acceptance, choice and dignity in mental health care


Alistair Campbell has written a new blog for the King's Fund website: A better future for mental health care: acceptance, choice and dignity, as an ambassador for Time to Change.

Fitness for work: the Government response to ‘Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence’


Fitness for work: the Government response to ‘Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence’ is the Government's response to the independent review of the sickness absence system by Dame Carol Black.

The report highlights the support that healthcare professionals and GPs in particular, require in helping individuals back to work and supports the recommendations of the review that fit note guidance is in need of revision and GP knowledge and awareness of the benefit system requires improvement. Download the report here.

Lords debate on the Mental Health discrimination bill, Second Reading


The Second Reading of the Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill took place in the House of Lords on 18 January 2013. You can read the transcript of the debate on TheyWorkForYou.com here.

IAPT three-year report: the first million patients


The IAPT programme to increase the availability of psychological treatments for depression and anxiety disorders within NHS services in England has completed its first three years. This report details the origins of the programme and highlights progress and successes after the first three full financial years of roll-out. It also outlines future requirements, particularly in meeting the financial commitments to 2015 and political commitments, together with plans to meet them.

Mental health crisis care services 'under-resourced, understaffed and overstretched' says mental health charity Mind


NHS crisis care for people with mental health problems is 'under-resourced, understaffed and overstretched', according to new research from Mind. Mind is today releasing the results of three separate pieces of research that together paint a picture of services that are unable to support thousands of people every year, at a time when they need help the most.

Information obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to mental health trusts, a service user survey of almost 1,000 people and unpublished preliminary data from a research project at University College London (funded by the National Institute for Health Research) reveals that:

- Services are understaffed: Four in ten mental health trusts (41 per cent) have staffing levels well below established benchmarks.

- People are not getting the help they need: There is huge variation in the numbers of people accessing crisis care services and one in five people (18 per cent) who came into contact with NHS services in crisis was not assessed at all. Only 14 per cent of people said that, overall, they felt they had all the support they needed when in crisis.

-People aren't assessed quickly enough: Only a third (33 per cent) of respondents who came into contact with NHS services when in crisis were assessed within four hours, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

- Services are not available all the time: One in ten (10 per cent) crisis teams still fails to operate 24-hour, seven-day-a-week services, despite recommendations by NICE.

-People cannot contact crisis teams directly: Only half (56 per cent) of crisis teams accept self-referrals from known services users and just one in five (21 per cent) from service users that aren't already known to them. This is despite NICE guidance that crisis teams should offer self-referral as an alternative to emergency services.

-There is a lack of respect and dignity Less than a third (29 per cent) said they felt all staff treated them with respect and dignity.

Mind has today launched an online tool to help commissioners and service users to understand crisis care services for mental health in their area by hosting the FOI data from their local trust. The charity is also sending a detailed briefing to all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England outlining where services are struggling and how they can improve. Both the online tool and CCG briefing can be found at www.mind.org.uk/crisiscare

Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 2011


Statistics on the representation of females and males as victims, suspects, offenders and employees in the Criminal Justice System have been released by the Ministry of Justice.

The report find that across the five year period, there were substantially fewer women than men both under supervision and in prison custody.

A greater proportion of women were also serving shorter sentences than men, which is likely to be attributable to a range of factors including differences in the offence types committed by men and women. Although the lowest in the five year reporting period, the 2011 rate of 2,104 self harm incidents per 1,000 female prisoners was over ten times higher than that for men (194 incidents per 1,000 male prisoners).

Download the statistics here.

Centre contributes to economic report for the Schizophrenia Commission


The Centre's Marija Trachtenberg and Michael Parsonage, chief economist, are contributing authors to the accompanying economic report to this week's report from the Schizophrenia Commission. Effective Interventions in Schizophrenia; the economic case, evaluates the cost effectiveness of various interventions, including Individual Placement and Support and Peer Support. Download the report here.

Mental health and the market


Understanding how the market in mental health works is critical – both for the development of future and the implementation of current policy. Ensuring clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have a clear understanding of the way in which the market currently operates in the mental health sector will be central to developing effective commissioning arrangements.

The Department of Health commissioned the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network and Mental Health Strategies to produce an analysis of the current landscape for mental health service provision in England.

The QIPP collection of good ideas


The QIPP collection on NHS Evidence is a resource to share examples of successful good ideas with colleagues in the NHS. There are now more than 120 examples of best practice quality and productivity examples available that have the potential to save the NHS over £1.9 billion.

Visit the QIPP collection to find examples of best practice or to submit an example.

Mental Health Strategy for Wales launched


The Strategy "Together for Mental Health" sets out the Welsh Government's vision for 21st century mental health services and is the first mental health and wellbeing strategy for Wales covering people of all ages. The Strategy reinforces the legal framework put in place by the Mental Health Measure and its accompanying Regulations and Codes of Practice.

The Delivery Plan sets out a three-year programme of improvement, cranking up the progress required for service delivery. Download the Strategy and the Delivery Plan here.

Lord Ramsbotham asks Government how they can ensure the transfer of prisoners to hospitals under the Mental Health Act ins completed in under 14 days


On the 22nd October 2012 Lord Ramsbotham asked Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that transfer of prisoners to hospitals under the Mental Health Act are completed within 14 days in line with the recommendation in the Bradley report. Read more on They Work for You.

Criminal Justice Alliance calls for PCC's to champion local liaison and diversion services


The CJA has produced a short briefing paper for Police and Crime Commissioners covering subjects across the criminal justice system including re-offending, resettlement and restorative justice. It discusses mental health in the criminal justice system and calls on the new commissioners to act as champions for liaison and diversion services. Download a copy here.

DWP report on psychological health and wellbeing of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants


This research is the first national study dedicated to examining the psychological health and wellbeing of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants.

People who started a JSA claim in the first quarter of 2011 had worse mental health than people of working age in the population as a whole. After standardising the JSA claimant cohort to the age and sex profile of the general population, 14.7 per cent were found to have a level of symptoms almost certain to warrant treatment. This is nearly twice the rate for the general population (8.5 per cent).More than a fifth (22.6 per cent) of the cohort had a CMD like anxiety or depression. In the months after a claim commenced the average mental health of men in this cohort remained poor, while that of women improved. Read more on the DWP website here.

Personal health budgets for continuing healthcare: the 10 features of an effective process


This paper by Vihdya Alakeson is part of a broader programme of work with PCT clusters in the north west of England to help support them for roll out of personal health budgets in 2014. It draws on the learning of pilot sites in the region and nationally to outline the 10 features of an effective personal health budget process within NHS continuing healthcare.

People's views of community mental health services


Participants in the latest survey of community mental health services said they are treated with dignity and respect by the health or social care worker they had seen most recently. However, some would have liked more support in getting help with aspects of day-to-day living.

The vast majority of participants said that they:

  • were treated with respect and dignity, were listened to carefully and had trust and confidence in the health or social care worker they had seen most recently.
  • could ‘always’ contact their care co-ordinator/lead professional if they had a problem and that their care co-ordinator/lead professional organised their care and services ‘very well’.

However, over a third of participants who had physical health needs said that they would have liked more support from a member of staff at their mental health service but didn’t get it.

The survey results also suggest that a considerable proportion of respondents who needed help would have liked more support in some aspects of day-to-day living such as:

  • caring responsibilities.
  • finding or keeping work.
  • finding or keeping their accommodation.
  • financial advice or benefits.

More research needed to help patients with multimorbidities


A systematic review published in the BMJ last week brings together the evidence for interventions designed to improve outcomes in patients with multimorbidity in primary care and community settings.

Read more on the Mental Elf.

Suicide prevention strategy launched


The Department of Health has launched a new cross-government strategy ‘Preventing suicide in England’. This all-age suicide prevention strategy builds on the 2002 strategy. Progress has been made in reducing the already relatively low suicide rate.

But there are new challenges to be addressed and at a time when we have economic pressures on the general population, it is particularly timely to revisit the approach we're taking.

New self-management guidance launched to help people with long term mental health problems


The Mental Health Foundation, in collaboration with Hafal and Bipolar UK, has launched a new self-management booklet, Take Control, to ensure people with serious mental health problems are able to take more control of their lives.

The guide is a product of the highly successful self-management courses which ran throughout Wales and supports participants in setting goals for themselves and using their Care and Treatment Plan to achieve them. To date over 600 people with a long-term mental health diagnosis have been trained to utilise key skills and tools to look after themselves and help others.

Peer support in mental health and learning disability


This briefing from the Mental Health Foundation highlights the benefits of peer support for services, individuals receiving support, and the person giving it. It showcases some of the Mental Health Foundation’s work within the area and looks at how peer support can help people to recover, to gain control over their condition, and live fulfilling lives in their communities.

Government sets out commitments to improve outcomes for homeless people with dual drugs, alcohol and mental health needs


Making Every Contact Count: A joint approach to preventing homelessness’‘Making Every Contact Count: A joint approach to preventing homelessness’ is the second of 2 reports on homelessness published by the Ministerial Working GroupMinisterial Working Group of which Health Minister Paul Burstow is a member.

The report looks at how to make every contact with a health professional count to reduce health inequalities and prevent homelessness for the vulnerable and excluded in society. The Department have also commited to fund Homeless Link to improve outcomes for homeless people with dual drugs/alcohol and mental health needs. Homeless Link will work with 5 local authority areas to support local services and commissioners to understand and identify clients with dual needs, and to develop and disseminate effective service models.

Consultation on funding allocations for independent mental health services


This consultation is seeking views on options for distributing funding to local authorities for Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) services and the Armed Forces’ compensation disregard.

From April 2013 the statutory duty and funding for commissioning IMHA services will transfer to local authorities. These services are currently commissioned by PCTs. Funding for these new local authority duties will be provided through a Department of Health grant. This consultation runs until 5pm on Friday 7 September 2012.

NICE begins consultation on psychosis and schizophrenia in children and young people


The two month consultation period for the new NICE guideline on psychosis and schizophrenia in children and young people has now begun. The guideline is aimed at clinicians and service commissioners in providing and planning high-quality care for children and young people with psychosis and schizophrenia. It stresses the importance of the experience of care for children and young people with psychosis and schizophrenia and their carers.

Registed stakeholders have until 27th September 2012 to make their views known. You can register on the NICE website here.

Commissioning Outcomes Framework indicators for mental health released


NICE has published a list of measures on mental health to be recommended to the Commissioning Board for the Commissioning Outcomes Framework. Read the new indicators here.

Consultation on joint strategic needs assessment and joint health and wellbeing strategy guidance launched


Proposals for the duties of health and wellbeing boards are published today by the Department of Health. The draft guidance, on which views are being sought, provides a framework for NHS and local government to work together to undertake joint strategic needs assessments(JSNA) and joint health and wellbeing strategies (JHWS).

View the consultation here.

Mild mental illness 'raises risk of premature death'


People with mild mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression are more likely to die early, according to researchers from University College London and Edinburgh University. They looked at the premature deaths from conditions such as heart disease and cancer of 68,000 people in England.

The research suggested low level distress raised the risk by 16%, once lifestyle factors such as drinking and smoking were taken into account. More serious problems increased it by 67%.

Read the report on the BMJ website.

MP's report raises concerns about mental health services in the reformed NHS


Following a year long inquiry into the effect that the reforms contained in the Health and Social Care Act would have on both mental health services and those using them the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health (APPG MH) has released Health and Social Care reform: Making it work for mental health. The major areas of concern are around whether or not GPs are ready or able to commission mental services and issues around the provision of integrated care.

The inquiry, which was supported by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, heard evidence from mental health service users, voluntary sector providers, health professionals, Minister for Care Services Paul Burstow and others.

Download the pdf here.

Post-legislative scrutiny of the Mental Health Act 2007


The Government’s ‘Post-legislative assessment of the Mental Health Act 2007′ has been laid before Parliament.

The assessment reviews the changes that the 2007 Act made to the Mental Health Act 1983 and in particular the issues that have been raised in connection with supervised community treatment and independent mental health advocate services. The 2007 Act amended the Mental Capacity Act 2005, to introduce a new regime of deprivation of liberty safeguards. The assessment therefore also considers the implementation of the deprivation of liberty safeguards system.

You can download the assessment here.

Royal College of Psychiatrists publish new guidance to improve mental health for victims of violence


The mental health needs of victims of violence are going unrecognised and there is a lack of joined-up services to support their needs, according to guidance released by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

People who are injured in or affected by physical violence, including sexual violence, are at risk of developing mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and substance misuse problems. But services to help these people are relatively underdeveloped.

Read the report here.

Care and support White Paper published


The Department of Health has published the ‘Caring for our future: reforming care and support’ White Paper, which sets out the vision for a reformed care and support system. You can download the paper here.

Mortality rates are three times higher in people with serious mental illness than in the general population


People between the ages of 18 and 74 inclusive with serious mental illness have a mortality rate three times higher than the general population, new data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show. This is the first time such figures have been calculated by linking mortality data to the Mental Health Minimum Dataset (MHMDS) – the dataset that contains record-level data about NHS services delivered to over one million people with serious mental health problems.

The right to be heard: advocacy services should be available to all


A new study from the University of Central Lancashire reveals that understanding the role of advocacy is critical to ensuring people get the support they need from mental health services.

The right to be heard looks at the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) services, used by people who have been detained under the Mental Health Act. It found that when people get access to these advocacy services they really appreciate them but there are specific problems for access for black and minority ethnic communities, and older people.

Variations in mental health care expenditure exposed in new health atlas


The Mental Elf reports how a new health atlas reveals the variations in social care spending on mental health services across England. The report, from Health Mandate, shows that while mental health spending accounts for over 10% of the health budget, local authorities allocate just 4% of additional social care funding from PCTs to mental health services. Visit The Mental Elf for further information.

Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) release evaluations of three pilot programmes aimed at improving the coordination of services for people with multiple needs and exclusions


Following 39 clients, the results show statistically significant increases in individual wellbeing and provide important information on how the shape and cost of wider service use changes as people engage with coordinated interventions.

In two of the three pilot areas there was a reduction in costs to the criminal justice system. In Cambridgeshire this reduction was large enough to offset the other costs incurred as people got the help they needed, resulting in an overall cost reduction. The total cost of service use in the first year increased in the other two areas.

Download the full evaluation.

New health and social care system must protect the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act


Clinical commissioning groups and local authorities must ensure that they uphold the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act as they take up new responsibilities, according to a report published today by the Mental Health Alliance.

Troubled Families report finds effective early interventions


A new report from New Philanthropy Capital, Troubled Families, highlights three areas where additional funding is needed to support families: early intervention, long-term support for the most vulnerable, and support for parents with mental health problems. It also highlights effective interventions in each of these areas.

New Long Term Conditions Compendium published


The Department of Health has published the third edition of its Long Term Conditions Compendium, which includes a chapter on longterm conditions and mental health and unexplained symptoms.

Inspections of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) courses outlined in new report


The General Social Care Council (GSCC) has launched a research report, Targeted inspections of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) courses in England (2011-12). The inspections were Undertaken between March 2011 to February 2012 and covering all 22 approved courses in England, the inspections ensure that providers continue to meet regulatory requirements and produce graduates who are competent to be appointed and undertake the AMHP role.

NICE publish new clinical scenarios to help GPs improve diagnosis and management of common mental health problems


This clinical guideline offers evidence-based advice on the care and treatment of adults who have common mental health disorders, with a particular focus on primary care. It brings together advice from existing guidelines and combines it with new recommendations on access to care, assessment and developing local care pathways for common mental health disorders. Common mental health disorders include depression, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post‑traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. Download the guidelines as a word document or as a PDF from the NICE website.

New research on race equality in mental health


A new report, commissioned by the Department of Health, presents views from leaders (working as NHS commissioners, providers of NHS services and from local authorities) on the barriers that prevent improvements in access, experience and outcomes for black and minority ethnic (BME) service users.

Delirium guidelines updated by NICE


NICE has published an update on its 2010 Guidance on Delirium, Delirium: diagnosis, prevention and management, which highlights new research, including the potential benefits of introducing a risk assessment tool. Around 20% of people on medical wards in hospital are affected by delirium.

What promotes and hinders joint and integrated working between health and social care services


The Social Care Institute for Excellence has published a briefing that offers an overview of the different models of working between health and social care services at the strategic, commissioning and operational level.

Study finds the care of people with people with long-term conditions is poorly co-ordinated and inefficient


The health system in the UK is struggling to care for the rising number of people who have two or more chronic illnesses, argues the authors of a study published in The Lancet this week. The authors propose that generalist clinicians who "can oversee all the problems" and provide personalised care would better serve people with multiple conditions.

Early intervention supported by research revealing the cost of troubled families


In a new report, Out of trouble: Families with complex problems, a guide for funders, New Philanthropy Capital highlights the cost of troubled families. Estimating that the 120,000 most troubled families cost society up to £9bn every year, NPC argues that early intervention is key and that services should be provided before problems are entrenched.

Contributions sought for the government strategy on long term conditions


The Department of Health is working with other government departments to develop a strategy on long term conditions and is inviting comments via a new long term conditions website, where you can have your say.

New report by Civitas: What can we do better to reduce offending by drug addicts?


This report by the think tank Civitas focuses on the evidence base for what works in drug rehabilitation, with a particular focus on criminal justice issues. It concludes that the evidence does not conclusively support one particular treatment, but suggests that a diverse range of quality treatments are necessary.

The report recognises that it is only in a few cases where drug addiction is the primary motivator for crime and that in most cases successful interventions must address multiple needs, including those relating to mental health, housing or access to employment or training. Read the report here.

Updated guidelines on treating depression in adults with a chronic health problem


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published an evidence update to its guidelines, Depression in adults with a chronic physical health problem.

New briefing from NHS Confederation on homelessness and mental health


This briefing paper sets out the policy context around tackling homelessness and addressing the mental health needs of homeless people. It also examines what considerations need to be made when planning, designing and delivering mental health services for homeless people and highlights examples of good practice.

Study finds there is insufficient evidence to recommend first line treatment for depression in cancer patients


Researchers at the University of Toronto have reviewed the psychosocial and pharmacologic treatment of depression in patients with cancer, reports The mental elf. While depression is at least three times as common in patients with cancer compared to the rest of the population, it was found that there is insufficient evidence to recommend first line treatment for depression for cancer patients.

Government release alcohol strategy


This strategy sets out Government proposals to cut down alcohol fuelled violence and disorder and reduce the number of people drinking to damaging levels. It includes commitments to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol; consult on a ban on the sale of multi-buy alcohol discounting; introduce stronger powers for local areas to control the density of licensed premises; and pilot sobriety schemes to challenge alcohol-related offending. View the strategy on the Home Office website here.

Final report of the evaluation of the youth justice liaison and diversion pilot scheme


The Department of Health has published its final report of an evaluation of the youth justice liaison and diversion pilot scheme. The report notes that there was universal support for making diversion a more systematic or compulsory element within police practice, and makes 11 eleven policy, practice and research recommendations, including integrating diversion scheme with existing services.