New NHS Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of the government’s intention to overhaul mental health services.
In particular, we applaud the focus on young people and the recognition that responsibilities for addressing people’s mental health problems lie beyond the NHS – with schools and employers mentioned in particular. Given that around half of all mental health problems start in adolescence while currently just 6% of the mental health budget is spent on children and young people, a much greater focus on the younger age-group is essential.
We welcome the emphasis in the Prime Minister’s vision of a ‘Shared Society’ on addressing social injustice and the link between this and health. There is strong evidence for this and we are very pleased that it has been highlighted. Social comparisons are extremely damaging both to mental and physical health as demonstrated by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett amongst others.
However, the connection between social injustice and mental health is lost later in her speech where the focus returns to a medical delivery model once mental health problems have become manifest. There is a much bigger job to do where mental health services themselves are designed to address, as Michael Marmot himself said, the causes of the causes of mental distress. Things like workplace stress, poor quality work and worklessness, childhood trauma, family breakdown, injustices in the welfare system, housing insecurity and homelessness. Until these causes are routinely considered by NHS services, we will be fighting a losing battle.
New NHS Alliance Chair and Queen’s Nurse, Heather Henry says “We do indeed need better access to mental health services, but we also need to fundamentally change the way we work across the whole of the NHS to understand and foster the causes of wellness and not just the causes of and management of mental illness. The Realising the Value report published last November by NHS England and others for example clearly indicates how the NHS and others can deliver social solutions.
Chief Executive, Merron Simpson says “We know of pockets of practice that go way beyond what the Prime Minister is advocating here in terms of creating health and turning people’s lives around. There is a need to reshape our health system to enable these to be much more widely adopted”.
Notes to editors:
- For enquiries, please contact: Judy Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07717 691845
- New NHS Alliance mission is … ‘to infect the UK health system with wellness’. You can find more information here
- New NHS Alliance has a goal to make Health Creation and health creating practices a core part of the UK healthcare system alongside a greater focus on prevention. We believe that this is the best way to reduce health inequalities and deliver a sustainable health service. Click here for a short briefing paper on Health Creation.
- You can find coverage of our Health Creation Action Summit here
- We intend to publish a ‘Manifesto for the adoption of health creating practices’ in the spring of 2017