Adass: Mental health plans must go further on personalisation

The government must do more to address the personalisation of care and support in the development of its new mental health strategy, councils and third sector leaders have warned.

A joint Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Local Government Association and Improvement and Development Agency response to the consultation on the New Horizons strategy, which closed last week, said it did not adequately address personalisation and self-directed support.

This is despite personalised care being one of the key themes in the consultation on New Horizons, which will cover England and is designed to replace the National Service Framework for Mental Health, which expires this year.

Low direct payment take-up

The lack of progress on personalisation in mental health was highlighted by recent figures, which showed take-up of direct payments was lower among mental health service users than other client groups.

In their response, Adass, the LGA and IDeA said too much money was currently invested in contracted services and called for specific guidance on moving from block-contracted provision to care commissioned by service users themselves.

They also called for a shift from a culture of “risk avoidance” to “appropriate risk taking” in mental health care, but warned that this would require significant changes to the way services are assessed and delivered, with associated training for staff.

‘Government must tackle inconsistencies’

The emphasis on personalisation was also evident in Turning Point’s response to the consultation. The social enterprise, which supports people with complex needs, said the government needed to tackle inconsistencies in the roll-out of personal budgets to mental health service users.

It said a personalised approach should be applied to all service users, including those with the most complex needs, with providers involving users in the design of services and commissioners ensuring support is joined-up.

Better employment support

It added that urgent steps were needed to ensure employment support providers are given the right incentives to work with anyone who is referred to them, including those who need specialist mental health support, Turning Point.

Recent government figures showed that just 3.4% of adults known to secondary mental health services were in employment.

More local government input required

Adass, the LGA and IDeA said it welcomed the New Horizons’s consultation’s emphasis on promoting social inclusion and the mental health of the wider public, but stressed that this required a strong role for local government, given councils’ wider community leadership responsibilities.

As part of this, they called for:-

  • The DH to work with local authority leaders to produce revised chapters on social inclusion, housing and the wider local government role in the final strategy, which is due next year.
  • That an agreement is forged between central and local government on the delivery of New Horizons.
  • A local authority chief executive to co-chair the process for implementating New Horizons with the DH.

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