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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