Centre for Mental Health is calling on the Government to prioritise and fund the prevention and treatment of mental ill health following the publication today of the ‘Plan for Patients’.
In her first ministerial statement as new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Thérèse Coffey told the House of Commons that: ‘we want to strengthen resilience and the health of the nation, in particular mental health and wellbeing.’ And the plan restates the Government’s commitment to extending mental health support in schools, in communities and in primary care services.
But there are serious questions about how improvements can be made at the same time as the Government is cancelling the Health and Social Care Levy for a system already struggling to meet growing levels of need.
Over one million people are waiting for a mental health appointment, and more are reaching crisis point every day.
The Centre is disappointed that the plan did not include the adoption of the promised new mental health access and waiting time standards, recommended by NHS England last year to reduce waiting times for both urgent and routine care.
The plan also does not address the glaring health inequalities that see much worse mental health outcomes for the most deprived, some racialised and other marginalised communities.
The plan states that government will ‘support people to start, stay and succeed in employment to benefit both the individual directly and the wider economy through increased labour market participation and productivity.’ But without increased incomes, affordable housing, energy and childcare, the link between poverty and mental health will continue to worsen, increasing demand for services and reducing productivity.
Andy Bell, deputy chief executive at Centre for Mental Health, said: ‘We urge the Government to follow up this plan with a recommitment to a fully funded 10-year cross-government mental health plan that truly addresses the social and economic causes of mental ill health and properly supports people if and when they become unwell. Without addressing these deep-seated problems more people will become ill which, apart from creating needless suffering and premature loss of life, also creates more pressure on services and the wider economy.’