Mental health morass

Mental health is meant to be one of the top priorities for the NHS.
It is a claim that rings hollow.

Mental health services are starved of resources – both financial
and human – and a crisis is looming. Last year, nearly two-thirds
of mental health trusts in England were in the red. And the
situation has not improved this year.

Meanwhile, severe recruitment problems affect social work, nursing
and psychiatry. Given these pressures, it is perhaps not surprising
that in many areas the service falls short, particularly when it
comes to change and development – for example, providing a decent
service for black people. Not that this is any excuse for
institutional racism.

Nor is there any excuse for the continuing inadequacy of child and
adolescent mental health services which, like services for adults,
become more inaccessible and inflexible the more marginalised you
are already, as shown once again this week in a Youth Justice Board
report highlighting unmet need among young offenders.

The government’s continuing insistence on a bill which will
exacerbate the inequality and inhumanity in the system shows what
prioritising mental health really means.

As with so many social policy initiatives, it means being seen to
address the concerns of the press and public, by accepting and
responding to them at face value, rather than by identifying the
real problems, and making and explaining the necessary investment.

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