Mentally ill people will receive more information to help manage their conditions

People with mental health problems and long-term conditions are to be given “information prescriptions” to help them stay independent, health minister Rosie Winterton announced today.

The individual information guides will point people to relevant websites, telephone numbers and local and national support groups for their conditions.

The government has provided £1.35m of funding for trials of the initiative, which will initially focus on people with cancer and mental health problems and later extend to vulnerable older people.

Winterton said: “Better access to information at the point of diagnosis and throughout the care pathway will empower people to manage their condition more effectively, taking greater control over their own lives.”

Winterton announced the scheme as the government published an update on progress on the Our health, our care, our say white paper which was published in January.

The progress report highlights announcements made since the publication of the white paper.

It also outlines future plans, including:

  • the development of regular comprehensive health checks for people with learning difficulties in 2007
  • a carers’ helpline and a New Deal for Carers (2007-8)
  • an update of the prime minister’s 1999 Strategy for Carers (timescale to be confirmed)
  • legislative changes on direct payments (also to be confirmed)
  • a framework of guidance and good practice on risk in social care (consultation due in late 2006)
  • consultation on a commissioning framework for health and well-being (late 2006)

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt said she did not “underestimate” the challenges ahead and said change “cannot happen overnight”.

However, she said the white paper’s vision was achievable.

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