Charities accuse government of “betrayal” on plan for mental health

Mental health charities say the government’s broken promise to produce a new strategy focused on mental health “risks letting down the one in four people in the UK impacted by mental illness”. Instead ministers plan to include mental health within a broader Major Conditions Strategy, along with chronic physical conditions, such as cancer and respiratory disease. 

coalition of charities in the mental health sector, including the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, YoungMinds, and Samaritans, are now concerned that this move will mean there will be no long-term mental health strategy to tackle the root causes of mental health problems or provide people with the care they need and the one promised last year has been scrapped.

Chronic physical conditions predominantly affect older people, whereas mental health conditions are spread across age groups and need preventative action at a young age, as Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation noted:

The merging of the mental health plan with a Major Conditions Strategy risks excluding our children and young people, who are less likely to experience chronic ill-health, yet are the most likely to benefit from early action to protect their mental health. Prevention should be at the heart of the new plan – for all the conditions it will cover – but the government’s emphasis is on the other end of life: extending people’s healthy life expectancy.

“We need sustained investment in high-quality person-centred support for mental health and social care services, but a percentage of NHS spend should be dedicated to preventative mental health interventions, working with and developing alongside people who are more likely to experience a mental health difficulty.”

Full story on The Lowdown, 27 February 2023