UK Government mental health strategy – What does the future look like?

we need a mental health strategy
By Adam Gillett*

I am deeply disheartened that the Government has chosen to abandon their promised ten-year mental health and wellbeing plan, as well as plans for other health conditions and a white paper on ‘health disparities.’ Instead, they intend to implement a ‘major conditions’ strategy, encompassing mental health alongside five other areas, but with a significantly shorter timeframe of two to five years.

A comprehensive approach to mental health is desperately needed

This decision comes at a critical time when a strategic and comprehensive approach to mental health is desperately needed. The prevalence of mental health difficulties has been steadily increasing, and the distress caused by the pandemic continues to persist amidst a cost of living crisis. It is disheartening that we have been waiting for over a decade since the last UK Government mental health strategy, “No Health without Mental Health,” was published.

We need a replacement urgently because mental health extends beyond just mental health services; it is intertwined with community dynamics, schools, workplaces, and government policies across various departments. By committing to long-term improvements and addressing the underlying factors that affect well-being, the government has the power to make a lasting impact.

In the absence of a comprehensive mental health plan, it is vital we take a strengths-based approach as there are still crucial actions that can be taken. Adequate funding for NHS and social care mental health services to meet the rising demand must be ensured. Furthermore, the promised reform of the Mental Health Act should be fulfilled, incorporating recommendations from the recent Joint Parliamentary Committee report and providing the necessary resources for effective implementation. 

Additionally, adopting a 'mental health policy test' to consider the public's mental health in all future decisions is a crucial step forward.

While we continue to advocate for a dedicated mental health plan, the proposed major conditions strategy presents an opportunity to address existing disparities between mental and physical health. We must seize this chance to bridge the alarming life expectancy gap faced by individuals living with mental illness, setting a target to close the gap within a decade and taking decisive action to improve the overall system. Additionally, the strategy should prioritise offering better emotional and psychological support to those with long-term conditions, implementing tailored support and comprehensive reforms to meet people’s needs effectively.

We cannot afford to leave the nation’s mental health to chance.

*Disclaimer: Adam Gillett contributed to this blog post in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the view or position of Minds Ahead.

Picture of Author: Adam Gillett
Author: Adam Gillett

Assistant Principal - Student Ethos and Safeguarding
Penistone Grammar School
Learning and Development Specialist at Minds Ahead

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