Social Exclusion Unit leads the way on revamp 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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