The government’s new mental health strategy implementation framework is all about translating vision into reality. It is a cross-sector action plan for achieving the government’s six objectives:
• More people will have good mental health
• More people with mental health problems will recover
• More people with mental health problems will have good physical health
• More people will have a positive experience of care and support
• Fewer people will suffer avoidable harm
• Fewer people will experience stigma and discrimination
It is positively framed with a clear focus on early intervention, recovery, wellbeing, co-production and tackling discrimination (with a little bit of choice and control thrown in for good measure). It even wants to tackle inequality, though how public services can narrow the gap between rich and poor is beyond me. This is an agenda that many mental health social workers will be happy to work to. But there is little in here which is new, original or inspiring, and it is riddled with missed opportunities.
The government’s mental health strategy provides an ideal opportunity to join up health and social care funding to provide a seamless service for people and facilitate integrated working, but it doesn’t go that far. If assessments, eligibility thresholds and care plans were genuinely integrated, and care was funded through a single personal budget (where possible), people using mental health services may have more genuine choice and control.
As it currently stands, local authorities are rapidly withdrawing from their partnership agreements with their local NHS mental health trust and putting their social workers in separate teams to focus on arranging personal social care budgets. Mental health social workers are being de-skilled and multi-disciplinary community mental health teams are losing a wealth of expertise in working with people with complex social problems, which may ultimately undermine what the mental health strategy aims to achieve.
31st July 2012