On the first anniversary of the Five Year Forward View on Mental Health, Geoff from our Campaigns team takes stock of progress and talks about how we can hold the Government to its promises.
Last month we blogged about the £1billion allocated to realising these improvements and the commitments made by the Prime Minister in a recent speech when she outlined measures to improve mental health in schools, workplaces and communities. You can help us make sure the Government follow through on these promises by signing up to become a Mind campaigner.
Over the last few years we’ve finally started seeing a marked change in attitudes towards mental health. Time to Change and other campaigns we are part of are pushing to end the stigma around mental health, and this effort has contributed to a shift in people’s understanding of mental health towards recognition that it affects us all.
"When we campaign together, we’re not only more likely to be heard but we’re listened to."
Now when we campaign together, we’re not only more likely to be heard but we’re listened to. More and more, the Government or the NHS will try and act on the concerns we raise. This means when we’ve highlighted issues such as the poor quality of crisis care, we’ve been able to work with the Department of Health to improve it. So when our CEO Paul Farmer was asked to chair an independent taskforce on mental health in mid 2015, it gave us an opportunity to challenge the whole system, not just a particular issue or area.
The taskforce started by listening to the experiences of over 20,000 people who’d experienced mental health problems and who had used services. Its report – the Five Year Forward View on Mental Health – was published a year ago and made over 50 recommendations to drastically change and improve the way the NHS and others treat and support people with their mental health. These recommendations were accepted by the Government and the NHS, so we now have a clear set of commitments to measure progress against.
The title ‘Five year forward view’ is a bit misleading, as changing the system in the way we want will probably take a lot longer than five years. But that said, we’ve been clear that we expect the Government and NHS to deliver on their commitments. By 2021, many more people should be getting treatment when they first seek support instead of having to wait a damagingly long time for help.
One year on there have been some steps in the right direction. For instance, with the publication of a mental health ‘dashboard’ for the first time there’s a concerted effort to address the lack of performance data about mental health services. This is important because, compared to services and treatments for physical health conditions, there has been precious little official data about the quality of mental health care people receive.
When we’re campaigning for improvements, this kind of information is vital to highlight where things are going wrong and where we need to see change. Over the next few years, we’ll be watching closely to see that the numbers go in the right direction and that promises are kept.
It’s still early days and we know that too many people still experience poor care and many more don’t get any help at all. We know that mental health services still get a raw deal when it comes to funding, and that when the NHS is under pressure, too often it is mental health services which suffer most. This is why we need to be louder than ever and keep campaigning until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.
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