A new government strategy to improve services for people who have mental health problems is to be launched later this year, Care Services Minister Phil Hope announced on Sunday (12 April 2009).
“New Horizons” will build on the National Service Framework for mental health, which comes to an end in 2009. A series of “listening events” starts this month, which will seek views on what the new strategy should cover from a wide range of people.
According to the Department of Health, around one in four people will suffer from a form of mental illness at some point in their lives; one-sixth of the population suffers from a common mental health problem at any time; and six million people in Britain have depression and/or anxiety disorders.
“Mental illness affects us all,“ said Mr Hope. “Whether it is ourselves, a family member or a friend, lots of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives.
“Mental ill health is as serious as physical illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Individuals, employers and all sorts of organisations have a role to play in helping to achieve good mental health for all.
“So, we’re going around the country to hear people’s views and hope to publish our new vision later this year. My ambition is to create a strategy that will improve services and promote public mental health and wellbeing for years to come.”
Simon Lawton-Smith, Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We strongly support this new focus on whole population mental health. Mental ill health is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the UK. Good mental health should be an achievable goal for everyone and mental health promotion needs to take its rightful place at the centre of public health efforts.
He added: “Both the consultation and the final strategy must address the needs of those who experience disproportionately high levels of mental ill health, including older people, those living in poverty and people from black and minority ethnic communities.”
It is expected that New Horizons could help promote services already in place that can help with mental wellbeing, but which aren’t normally considered as mental health services. These include mother and toddler groups, older people’s lunch clubs, community arts projects and inner city sports projects.