By Amy Hardie
As an independent mental health charity seeking to change people’s lives, the Centre has made many evidence-based recommendations for better services and fairer policies.
We are members of the Mental Health Policy Group (MHPG) and the We Need To Talk (WNTT) coalition and have shared our collective recommendations for the new government through joint manifestos.
Alongside these recommendations, we have created our own manifesto building on research we have carried out about how to improve the mental health of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society.
We narrowed these down to five of the most important areas of change. This was a difficult task especially given that our research covers a wide range of topics, from mental health in criminal justice and other detention settings to children and young people’s mental health.
- Prisons and immigration removal centres (IRCs) need a profound culture shift to become ‘psychologically informed environments’.
- The Government should support GPs, midwives and health visitors to recognise mental health difficulties among new mothers and get priority access to talking therapies.
- The Government should offer people with mental health problems support without sanctions when they want help to get into work.
- More support needs to be made available to children with behavioural difficulties and their families.
- The Government should invest in suicide prevention and support local authorities to develop effective strategies to save lives in their communities.
Criminal justice, detention centres and mental health
Our recent work has highlighted that the environment of the prison estate and detention centres has a negative impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
We want the next Government to commit to improving the mental health and wellbeing of people in custody, and to work towards making all prisons, IRCs and other places of custody psychologically informed environments to protect all of those who live and work in them.
Children, young people’s and perinatal mental health
We know that mental health problems during pregnancy and in childhood make people’s lives harder and cost a great deal of money.
About half of all cases of perinatal depression and anxiety go undetected and many of those which are detected fail to receive evidence based forms of treatment despite clear guidance from NICE.
The next Government needs to address this gap in services and ensure that women have their needs identified quickly and get priority access to IAPT services when they need help without delay.
Currently, children and families facing the challenges of living with conduct disorder are being overlooked in government policy and by services. About 5% of young children suffer from conduct disorder and it is associated with a wide array of adverse outcomes extending over the life course. Our research has demonstrated that early intervention can amount to substantial savings in the long-term social and economic costs as well improving life chances.
We want the next Government to prioritise children with behavioural problems, to champion early intervention and to prevent later inequalities by acting quickly to help families when they need it.
Support into employment
For employment support to be effective it is vital that it is provided in a supportive not coercive way. There is no conclusive evidence that sanctions encourage people into work. But there is a lot of evidence of how damaging they can be and the negative impact sanctions can have on people’s wellbeing and mental health. We advocate the use of IPS, which has consistently demonstrated good outcomes for people with mental health problems who want to gain employment.
We want to see this expanded further so that anyone using mental health services who wants help with employment can access IPS, with no postcode lottery. And we believe that this approach could be adapted for wider use.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in England in adults below the age of 50 (Public Health England, ‘New data reveals suicide prevalence in England by occupation’, 2017; Office for National Statistics, 2016). This is a real tragedy and we know that more can and should be done to reduce the extent of this social injustice.
We want the next Government to prioritise suicide prevention and support local authorities to take effective action to save lives.