Waving a twig at stigma

    Mental health problems are estimated to cost the country more than
    £77bn a year. With this in mind, the Social Exclusion Unit
    this week set out an action plan to tackle stigma, discrimination
    and exclusion.

    But while the government’s £1.1m pledge for an anti-stigma
    programme is laudable, the money is guaranteed for only one year.
    The progress of the learning difficulties white paper Valuing
    People has shown that it takes far longer than 12 months to change
    years of entrenched attitudes.

    Then there is the £132m mental health grant for local
    authorities, which should be used not only to meet national service
    framework priorities, but also SEU objectives. And how many
    councils are going to prioritise helping someone into employment
    above crisis services and early intervention?

    As for the £22m ringfenced capital funding to implement the
    SEU’s plans to improve day services, unless councils have already
    allocated staff to deliver services, why would they purchase
    premises? Unused money goes back into the pot, presumably to be
    used by those councils that have got their act together and have
    employed staff to work in new premises to provide better services.
    So while the good councils get better, the poorer ones get worse.
    How depressing.

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