“Action to address drug misuse needs to be aligned with work to protect and promote mental health throughout people’s lives,” Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said today.

Responding to the Government’s Drug Strategy 2017, Sarah Hughes said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of strengthening children’s wellbeing and resilience, including through personal, social and health education in schools, and of the need to reach out to the most vulnerable young people, including those who have experienced violence and abuse and those in the youth justice system.

“We welcome the Government’s recognition of the harm related to drug use, particularly New Psychoactive Substances, among vulnerable prisoners. Our research has highlighted the need for a significant culture change in prisons to focus on the wellbeing of both prisoners and staff in order to prevent harm and promote rehabilitation. And high quality support must go ‘through the gates’ to enable prisoners to rebuild their lives when they are released.

“The strategy identifies a number of changes that are needed to drug treatment to meet people’s needs more effectively. These include better links with mental and physical health care, a greater level of service user involvement and peer support, and a bigger focus on employment and housing to help people to recover. These are all important steps to achieving greater coherence between mental health and substance misuse services, which together need to offer a shared vision of ‘recovery’ to help people with multiple needs to recover their lives.

“Many local drug and alcohol services have been subject to big cuts in funding in recent years. And on the ground it is often difficult to link up mental health and substance misuse services. The Government must now ensure that the principles set out in this strategy are supported by sufficient resources to support local commissioners and providers of drug, alcohol and mental health services to offer people the right help at the right time.”