London’s leading mental health service providers have welcomed government plans for an overhaul of the care system.
Experts said there was a “huge opportunity” to improve the lives of the 2 million Londoners who experience mental ill health every year.
But health bosses warned that the NHS alone could not tackle the problem and that schools, employers and “wider society” all had a role to play.
The comments came from the Cavendish Square Group – the body representing the 10 NHS trusts responsible for mental health services in London – after Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled the Government’s action plan to tackle stigma and discrimination within the system.
Mrs May set out plans to invest an extra £15 million in community care, while improving mental health training for teachers and employers.
In a speech at the Charity Commission on Monday (January 9), she said mental health had been “dangerously disregarded”.
The Cavendish Square Group said it was encouraged by indications that ministers would seek to address services for children and young people.
It also welcomed the Government’s proposals to improve workplace conditions and urged ministers to “hold employers to account” when discrimination occurs.
But it also warned of historic under-funding of the mental health system and called for a “sustained commitment to increase resources”.
Crucially, it said the NHS “cannot alone provide” the kind of mental health services that could be delivered more easily by schools and employers.
The group said: “We do not underestimate the financial resources needed to deliver a mentally healthy society but it is not all about money – we all have a responsibility to work together to build better systems and services and to assist people and communities in supporting themselves and to receive high-quality, safe and responsive services when they need them.”
In her speech, the Prime Minister outlined plans for:
– an extra £15 million for community care services, such as crisis cafes
– every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training
– a review of children and adolescent services
– a review of ways to support in the workplace
– additional training for employers to support staff who need to take time off
The announcement follows a fundraising and awareness campaign by the South London Press and London Weekly News in partnership with Lambeth and Southwark Mind.
The appeal has raised more than £5,000 to support vital mental health services in the capital and shone a light on stigma and inequality within the system.
Our Change Is Possible campaign aims to promote and protect good mental health for everyone in south London, helping to shape a community that makes sure people with experience of mental health problems are treated fairly, positively and with respect.
South London Press, London Weekly News and Lambeth and Southwark Mind are committed to raising awareness about the complex mental health problems that many people in our community face, and working together to expand and improve the range of support available.
We aim to put a stop to the stigma around mental health – at home, at work and at school – and to break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help.
If you would like to support our Change Is Possible campaign, there are several ways to get involved.
– Share your story. Do you have personal experience of living with mental health problems? Has a friend or family member been affected? Your story could help inspire others to donate towards our campaign.
– Help us fundraise. Could you support our appeal by organising a fundraising event or setting yourself a sponsored challenge? Every penny could be crucial in helping us reach our campaign targets.
– Donate to our campaign. To make a donation to our appeal, you can visit www.givey.com/changeispossible. Alternatively, you can write to Lambeth and Southwark Mind, 4th floor, 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA.