SEU recommends overhaul of day services

    Day services for people with mental health problems will be
    overhauled to include a range of provision such as access to
    employment opportunities, under proposals set out in a new report
    by the government’s Social Exclusion Unit, writes
    Sally Gillen

    Measures to transform day services into “community
    resources” that will open up mainstream services are among 27
    action points in the 144-page document.

    It says that, although £140m is spent on day services,
    their activities often do not promote social inclusion and they
    should, for example, provide advocacy services to aid access to
    local provision in the future.

    The report, based on a consultation with 900 people and
    organisations including service users, charities and local
    authorities, finds that mental health users suffer discrimination
    in almost every sphere of life.

    In March, the government set aside £22m to fund the capital
    costs associated with the report’s anticipated
    recommendations. From this pot, every council with a social
    services department has received a baseline amount of £50,000
    to implement the changes.

    A £1.1m campaign to tackle stigma, described in the report
    as “the single greatest barrier” to better integration
    of mental health service users in the community, was also announced
    by the Department of Health.

    Fewer than a quarter of people with a mental health problem have
    a job, and the low expectations health and social care
    professionals sometimes have of their clients can hamper their
    progress, says the report.

    Health minister Rosie Winterton said it was vital that people
    with mental health problems were properly supported to gain or
    retain employment and access education, advice on finances, legal
    rights and other community facilities and appropriate heath and
    social care services.

    Directors of social services and primary care trust chief
    executives will have lead responsibility for drawing up local
    action plans to implement the report, and will be expected to
    review commissioning practices to ensure voluntary and community
    sector input.

    Acting chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health
    Angela Greatley said the report “must become a watershed in
    our history”. 

    But chief executive of charity Rethink Cliff Prior said the
    report offered “no radical ways improve the way the benefit
    system traps and discriminates against mental health


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