Nick Clegg pronounced, in his speech to the LibDem conference, that there was ‘outrageous discrimination’ in how the NHS responded to individuals with mental health problems and promised new funding to breach the gap between physical and psychological treatments. According to the Guardian (8.10.14) ‘mental health campaigners’ welcomed this as ‘a significant advance’.
We might be more cautious. First, we have seen similar promises in the past, like the 2011 Government paper boldly titled ‘No Health Without Mental Health’. Secondly the treatment offered is the ‘one size fits all’, short term CBT (and its variations) rather than longer term support as part of the package. Thirdly, the austerity driven Government policies continue to cut and close the network of community based, service user led organisations that people need and value.
All this against the background of the economic measures that can only increase the multiple layers of deprivation that create the anxiety, depression and dis-ease that brings so many to the attention of mental health services.
Our response is to build our work around the Mental Health Charter. It is just short of 300 signatories which include names from South Africa, Greece, Ireland and Germany, from individual service users and their organisations such as Shaping our Lives, DPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts) and reVision Liverpool. There are practitioners: mental health social workers, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists and academics. And there is a group of people who signed at a SWAN stall at the 2014 Durham Miner’s Gala.
We are also organising day conferences and meetings. These have already been held in Bristol, Oxford and Durham. In November there are meetings planned in London, Wakefield and Manchester and the London meeting reflects the breadth of concern. Speakers include Peter Beresford of Shaping Our Lives, June Sadd, a mental health survivor and trainer plus individuals from the organisations DPAC, Cooltan (a mental health and arts charity), GALOP (a LGBT anti-violence and abuse charity) and the Movement for an Adoption Apology which highlights the pressures on vulnerable mothers. Helen will be speaking from the strikes in London Borough of Barnet against privatisation of adult social care services. Practitioners will include Catriona, working with children in schools, Paul, an inner-London AMHP and Mike on ‘surviving social work’.
LONDON MEETING: ‘THE CRISIS IN MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES’ Saturday 8th November. 10.30am – 4.30pm, John Barnes Library, 275, Camden Road, N7 0JN. A flyer is attached below.
WAKEFIELD 15th November and MANCHESTER 22nd November. There will be details to follow on this website.