Mental health gets Government commitment

Mental health gets Government commitment

By Liz Lockhart

It is great to be able to report on positive action on mental health and to join a host of other mental health organisations in welcoming the Government’s decision to retain the mental health amendment in the Health and Social Care Bill.

The House of Commons has, this week, decided to make mental health a higher priority in the much debated ‘new health system’ in England.  The news has been welcomed by several mental health organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and the Centre for Mental Health. 

The Government has decided to support an amendment to give the Secretary of State for Health an explicit duty to support both physical and mental health.    This amendment gives statutory backing which confirms the Government’s own commitment to ensure that mental health receives the same level of health care to that which is given to physical health.  It also makes clear that the Secretary of State has a duty to improve the nation’s mental health services and the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of both physical and mental health.

Sue Bailey, the President of the Royall College of Psychiatrists said ‘Whilst I'm only too aware that a single amendment in a large piece of complicated legislation cannot solve all the issues associated with mental health care, it gives us a platform to work from as we continue to push for more integration, better service-user and carer involvement and reductions in health inequalities. I hope that the amendment will, more broadly and over time, influence positive changes in attitudes to mental health, and in knowledge, priorities, professional training and practice, all of which are necessary to reduce the stigma experienced by those with mental health problems and to improve the assessment and care they receive."

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