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Blog: The Future of Mental Health Services

New research by YoungMinds, a leading children’s mental health charity, has shown that since 2010 a total of £85m has been lost from the budgets of mental health trusts and local authorities, with £35m of these cuts coming from mental health services for children and young people in England.

Mental health is an urgent national policy issue, particularly when it comes to the care and support we provide to children and young people.  Mental ill health will soon be the biggest burden on society both economically and sociologically, costing around £105 billion per annum.  By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem.  But we spend a fraction of our overall health budget on mental health. Mental health research only receives just 6.5% of total funding in the UK compared with 25% for cancer, 15% for neurological diseases and 9% for cardiovascular conditions.

These are figures which should make every politician sit up and take notice.

There are a number of areas in which our mental health provision needs to improve:

  • Stop neglecting child mental health – a recent report by the independent Mental Health Taskforce showed that only 6 per cent of the mental health budget is spent on children, even though three quarters of adult mental illness begins before the age of 18. Since 2010, the underinvestment and poor delivery of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services have led to a growing number of young people being placed in adult wards, and many sent hundreds of miles for hospital care as a result of bed shortages. This not only puts young people at risk but has a negative impact on their rehabilitation and recovery.

I am regularly contacted by concerned parents who feel their children are not receiving the support they need for their mental health and that this is having a negative effect on their education, physical health and quality of life.  Going forward we need better provision of talking therapies for children and a better understanding of how to identify and respond to mental health in schools. Before the election the Tories pledged to increase funding for children’s mental health services, Labour will be making sure that they honour that pledge.

  • Early Intervention – since 2010 there have been a cutbacks in early intervention and prevention services, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Early Intervention in Psychosis Services and the Early Intervention Grant which funds Sure Start services. This short-sighted approach by the government means that people are not getting the support they need when they first develop ill mental health and it ends up costing the NHS billions down the line when these people eventually reach crisis point. I firmly believe focusing more on early intervention services will achieve better outcomes for patients and create long-term savings for the NHS.

To ensure we have early intervention for our children and young people, we need to properly train our teachers to deal with mental health issues, so that mental health needs are identified sooner and children receive the treatment and support they need as soon as possible.

  • Talking therapies – there is a limited availability of counselling services in Chesterfield even though they can provide the kind of lower-level, preventative intervention that can stop problems subsequently becoming more serious. It is completely unacceptable that some of my constituents are having to wait almost 6 months before they can be seen by a counsellor, by which time their needs can have increased significantly and the treatment they need be more extensive and costly. A Labour government would have introduced a maximum 28-day wait once a patient has been referred for talking therapies.

  • Parity of Esteem – This needs to be more than just a political slogan. Real action needs to be taken to so that mental health is given parity of esteem with other areas of health. This means improving diagnosis, increasing mental health awareness across all NHS departments and commissioning the right services to deliver the parity of esteem agenda. Mental health patients should have equal access to the most effective treatment possible, equal consideration regarding waiting list times and the equal regard and consultation as other service users. And the delivery of our mental health services needs to have an equal focus on improvements in the standard of care and a commensurate allocation of resources.

The cuts to mental health funding we have seen over the last five years were the first time the mental health budget had been cut in over a decade. The government focused on short-term savings that left patients without the help or early support they needed and that will cost the NHS billions in the long-term.

Together with improving services, we also need to start changing society’s attitudes towards mental health. This government has relegated mental health to the sidelines and once again made people feel stigmatised and less likely to talk about or address their mental health issues.

3627086678There can be no short-termism in our approach to mental health. People need help as early as possible, for as long as needed and individual to their needs.

This is the right thing for patients and for the long-term viability of our health services.

If you would like to read more about the research carried out by Young Minds please click here http://www.itv.com/news/2015-07-27/revealed-tens-of-millions-slashed-from-mental-health-budgets/

Please also visit the ‘Labour Campaign for Mental Health’ facebook page to read statements on mental health from the Labour leadership candidates https://www.facebook.com/labourmentalhealth

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

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Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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