Following the scrapping of the 10-Year Mental Plan and its purported replacement in the form of the Major Conditions Strategy (which covers six major groups of conditions: cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, dementia, mental ill health, and musculoskeletal disorders), there has been a significant amount of furore within the mental health sector. A number of organisations have come out in opposition of the fact that mental health has been rolled into a strategy with a number of other issues, arguing that it takes the focus away from mental health, and dilutes it’s prominence and importance. They argue that due to the lack of parity of esteem of mental health in comparison to physical health, that it should have its own focus and its own plan – not to be subsumed into a plan with other health issues.
The NCPS wholeheartedly supports a plan that prioritises and seeks to fully comprehend and address mental health in the UK; unfortunately, the Major Conditions Strategy does not seem to offer this.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood have today published a report on this issue, titled The Major Conditions Strategy: A 10-year failure for Mental Health.
The report, authored by 23 experts including Meg Moss, our Head of Policy & Public Affairs, makes six recommendations to the Government for what a 10-year strategy to improve mental health should include:
1. Prioritising prevention and increasing public awareness.
As 75% of lifelong mental illnesses begin before adulthood, the provision of evidence based mental health support from a professional in every school can help prevent lifetimes of suffering.
2. Facilitating early intervention and timely access to services.
Reduction of waiting times and improving access to practice and evidence-based treatments and therapies are essential to avoid the escalation of mental health conditions.
3. Promoting integrated, holistic services and addressing health inequalities.
It is essential that a 10-year Mental Health Plan should be cross-governmental and include co-ordinated action to reduce child poverty and inequality.
4. Guaranteeing sustainable funding for research, mental health services and workforce development.
By ringfencing funding for mental health services and research, we can ensure the long-term availability of vital mental health provisions.
5. Growing the workforce and capacity building.
The authors of the report make the case for a focused expansion of the mental health workforce to sit alongside the newly proposed NHS workforce plan announced by the Government.
6. Partnership working and dynamic collaboration between government agencies, healthcare and education service providers and other organisations.
Such a plan will only work if it wins the collective support of policymakers and all stakeholders working together to make it happen.
We are also delighted to see that this report strongly supports our campaign work, especially the areas around early intervention and timely access to services, as well as integrated, holistic services and addressing health inequalities. These are the key principles of our Direct Access to Counselling campaign, which you can read more about here: https://nationalcounsellingsociety.org/about-us/campaigns/direct-access-to-counselling
Meg Moss, our Head of Policy & Public Affairs, says, “I’m very grateful to have been able to contribute to this report alongside some prominent figures in the field of mental health, and more than that I’m so grateful that our contribution has helped to create such a valuable report; one that I hope will become a catalyst for real change in mental health provision for children and young people at a very fundamental level”.
Alongside this report, a letter, signed by the NCPS and 39 other mental health leaders, is due to be hand-delivered to 10 Downing Street asking Rishi Sunak to reverse his Government’s decision to scrap the 10-year Mental Health Strategy that was scheduled for publication this year.