Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Horizons an opportunity to build a healthier, happier nation

Today (Thursday 23 July) the government launches New Horizons, a major new consultation on how we should care for the mental health of the nation for the next ten years. As the current mental health strategy the National Service Framework draws to a close this autumn, New Horizons is a pivotal opportunity to move on from a model of mental health care based solely on delivering medical services, to a cross-government plan that approaches everyone's mental wellbeing holistically, and considers the impact of social factors such as unemployment and debt.In response to the consultation launch, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

"New Horizons is the chance of a generation to not only transform the lives of millions of people in this country who experience mental health problems, but help the nation as a whole maintain good mental wellbeing. In the past, our approach has been to treat the symptoms of the mental health problem, rather than treating the patient by looking at the factors that can affect mental wellbeing in the first place. Now, as well as improving mental health services, we have the opportunity to build a healthier, happier nation.

"Before we move forward, we also need to tackle the ongoing problems in delivering good mental health care. This week has seen some shocking revelations into the appalling state of inpatient wards, and people are still struggling to access vital services such as crisis care and counselling services. People should be able to access help when they need it, not just when services are able to provide it - and that care needs to be of a standard that helps, rather than hinders recovery. If we are to create a system that truly addresses the needs of the individual, the voice of those who use mental health services needs to be heard loud and clear throughout the consultation process.

"For many people, recession has hit their mental health hard, and we now need a new approach that can respond to the needs of the times. The demand for mental health care is never going to go away - that demand has to be met with an approach that tackles the causes of mental distress, helps everyone to stay well, and provides timely, high quality care when it's needed."

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