Campaigners lay out new vision for mental health

The government’s forthcoming mental health strategy should commit to outlawing discrimination, providing key public sector workers with mental health training and setting a high-level target for improving outcomes.

That was the message from campaigners and service leaders today, in a report designed to influence the Department of Health’s New Horizons programme to develop a successor to the National Service Framework for Mental Health, which expires this year.

Mental health is ‘everybody’s business’

The Future Vision Coalition, which includes the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Local Government Association, the NHS Confederation and all the major mental health charities, set out four principles for reform:
● Improving mental health is everybody’s business and requires action across government.
● Positive mental health should be promoted with early intervention when people become unwell.
● Mental health services should help people fulfil their potential.
● Service users and carers should shape their own support.

The coalition reiterated calls for a cabinet minister to champion mental health improvements within government and called for a new public service agreement specifying how government services should boost mental health and well-being.

Extend talking therapies

It said the government’s programme to improve access to psychological therapies should be extended throughout the country and to all client groups, including children, older people and prisoners.

The programme is currently due to cover working-age adults with common mental health problems in around half the country by 2011, by which time funding would have reached £170m a year.

Mental health training for teachers

As part of efforts to promote positive mental health and early intervention, it said all frontline professionals, including teachers, the police and social care staff, should be offered mental health training.

The government should actively support and give employers incentives to recruit, support and retain people with experience of mental health problems to increase employment rates, which are currently among the lowest of any disabled group.

The report, A Future Vision for Mental Health, also called for concerted action to tackle prejudice, including by legislating to explicitly outlaw discrimination. It also said the Time to Change anti-stigma campaign should receive government funding when its current financing from the Big Lottery and Comic Relief comes to an end.

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