Experts are calling for a cabinet-level mental health “champion” to lead a bold cross-government strategy, aimed at improving the mental well-being of the entire population.
A coalition of seven leading mental health organisations have outlined their vision of what should replace the national service framework for mental health, which expires next year.
The cabinet champion would oversee the transfer of sole responsibility for mental health away from the Department of Health and across government departments, thus ending the dominance of medical models of care.
Future policy should promote the social inclusion of people with mental health problems and address not just psychological factors but the underlying social and economic barriers to recovery, such as abuse and neglect, family breakdown, and social stigma.
A New Vision for Mental Health is produced by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, Together, and the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network.
The discussion paper argues that the cost of mental ill-health to the economy – estimated at £77bn every year in England – makes tackling its burden “a political and social imperative”.
The paper contains four key recommendations for the direction of future policy:
• Implement a cross-government strategy which recognises the social factors influencing people’s mental health
• Greater emphasis on public mental health via whole-population mental health promotion, targeted prevention for at-risk groups and early intervention for children and families
• Full adoption of the ‘recovery approach’ across the spectrum of care, and new performance indicators measuring a person’s quality of life
• Greater focus on self-determination, allowing individuals, families and communities to shape models of support rather than services and professionals
The coalition will be consulting a wide range of stakeholders this summer and is asking professionals for their views on future mental health policy.
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