Mental well-being is eclipsed by health in white paper, say charities

Charities have criticised the government for failing to adequately
tackle mental health within its public health white paper published
last week.

The paper is aimed at tackling the causes of ill-health and
reducing inequalities. But many feel its wider agenda has been
overshadowed by the issues of smoking and healthy eating.

Chief executive of mental health charity Rethink Cliff Prior said
the paper was a “missed opportunity” to end the scandal of hundreds
of thousands of people with severe mental illness who faced an
early grave because their physical health needs were ignored.

Richard Brook, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said
the government needed to recognise that improving the nation’s
mental health was an integral part of its aim.

His views were backed by Angela Greatley, chief executive of the
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, who said that mental illness
was not a choice and could not be prevented by promoting healthy

“Promoting mental well-being is about tackling the things that put
people at risk of mental ill-health and taking action to offer fair
chances in life to those with mental health problems,” she

The Association of Directors of Social Services said that the white
paper and the backing for a range of joined-up, community-based
initiatives were a “welcome leap in the right direction”.

ADSS president Tony Hunter said: “Many of the health secretary John
Reid’s priorities and emphases are focused very much on the
families and communities that social care services are involved
with on a day-to-day basis.”

He singled out the Communities for Health proposals, which would
bring statutory and voluntary organisations, businesses and
individuals together in campaigns to improve public health, as “an
encouraging development”.

Reid announced the 88 most health-deprived areas in England this
week that will be the first to pilot initiatives set out in the
paper such as personal health trainers, smoking cessation services
and school nurses.

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