Mind welcomes additional winter support for people with mental health problems
The Department for Health and Social Care has announced additional funding for and support within mental health services for the coming months.
The announcement includes:
• £50million to protect mental health beds in hospitals over the winter and to make sure mental health patients are discharged with the right support when they are ready to go home
• Guidance on continuing face to face support for people with mental health problems who need it, even in areas with the tightest lockdown restrictions.
• Confirmation that many people with mental health problems are eligible for free deliveries of essential items such as food
• A re-commitment to ensuring people with severe mental illnesses (SMIs), such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, receive regular physical health checks. Research shows that people with serious mental illnesses are far more likely to have certain physical health problems and can die up to 20 years earlier than the average population.
Responding to the announcement, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, says:
"It’s good to see the Government acknowledge the huge impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the nation's mental health, evidenced by crisis referrals, hospital bed capacity, and calls to Mind’s Infoline. This immediate investment in the mental health system should make a real difference over the winter as more and more people develop problems with their mental health.
"Mind has been calling for many of these urgent changes, including dedicated funding to make sure enough mental health hospital beds are available over the coming months, and that patients can be discharged safely once they are ready to go home. We know that, even under lockdown restrictions, face-to-face support - particularly for those experiencing severe mental illnesses (SMIs), such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – is hugely important, so we are encouraged this has been recognised. In addition, promoting further outreach from GPs to people with SMI’s and making it clear that they are eligible for essential supplies deliveries is crucial to getting through the Winter and coronavirus restrictions. But to make sure people can survive the winter, additional support via local authorities is needed urgently, so people can pay for things like food and heating. We look forward to the Spending Review for confirmation of this funding.
"As this winter plan shows, the responsibility for mental health does not just lie with Department for Health and Social Care or the NHS. The economic recession will leave a deep and lasting scar on our nation’s mental health – given factors such as debt, unemployment, housing, and job security are connected with our mental health. That’s why the next step should be a cross-governmental plan, as soon as possible, that covers all aspects of people’s lives and recognises the role every department must play in dealing with the long-term mental health impacts of coronavirus."